Everyone likes feeling like they have a choice but how much choice is too much? Nowadays we have simply too much to choose from. Looking for a book? You can check out the iBooks Store or pick up your Kindle and there are millions of titles to choose from.
How many times have you said, thought or heard the words “There’s just too much to choose from”?
Psychologists call this the ‘Paradox of Choice’. In his book of the same title, Barry Schwartz explains that an abundance of choice leads to an inner paralysis, poorer decisions and discontent.
To put this theory to the test, a supermarket set up a sample stand with 24 types of jelly. Customers could try as many as they like and then buy them at a discount. The next day, the supermarket carried out the same test but with only 6 flavours for customers to try. The result? The supermarket sold twice as much jelly on day two. The experiment was carried out several times with different products and the results were always the same. Customers who tried to choose from 24 products couldn’t come to a decision and so just gave up and bought nothing.
When it comes to technology, competing products often have a long list of technical specifications that customers would need to choose between and sometimes a particular product may even have its own list of varying specifications which makes the situation even worse. A good example is the range of products available on the smartphone market. Even if you’ve decided you want a device running Google’s Android operating system rather than Apple’s iOS, and even if you’ve decided on one of the flagship devices from one of the major manufacturers, you may need to decide between the range of colours available, the storage capacity options, the choice of accessories etc. Then there’s the contracts to choose from! How much do you want to pay upfront vs the amount you pay each month? How many texts, minutes and data do you need? Do you want 4G or super fast 4G?
How can customers be sure they are picking the best product when there were hundreds to choose from? They can’t. So when they HAVE to choose something, they fear that they might have made the wrong choice, and are often dissatisfied afterwards.
When customers have too many attributes to decide between, they often just select one attribute and choose based on that alone. This may lead to a poorer decision but when they MUST choose something, this is their way of coping with the problem. They might choose the cheapest product or the product with the biggest discount and miss out on an alternative with better value.
If you have particular products that you want to promote, you can focus in on the attribute of that particular product which ‘beats’ the other products in that range.
This highlights the importance of helping customers make decisions by offering not just a huge range but a great range of products and by making intelligent, personalised and timely recommendations. It’s also important that you not only give them all the information you can about a product but the ability to sort through and filter this information quickly and easily.
Have you got any examples of great shopping experiences you’ve had recently? How did the seller/retailer help you choose what to buy?