Consumers want product choice, but too many options may stifle their decision to buy. This is a delicate balance to master with eCommerce customers, who have to weigh seemingly similar services from a large pool of providers.
It's been estimated time and again that on average, a person makes thousands of decisions every day: around 35,000, according to a Psychology Today article. No wonder, then, that consumers often prefer simplicity.
How often have you looked at a simple restaurant menu and felt relieved that they only have a burger or a double burger? Sometimes, more choices may seem appealing at first, but will ultimately overwhelm a person's ability to make a final decision.
Here are a few reasons why customers will be more satisfied with fewer choices.
Buyers are stressed and overwhelmed
There's no doubt that stress levels can be high with modern consumers. Online shopping presents a whole new step to the process, with pop-up ads, email newsletters, product announcements and sale notifications constantly streaming to your audience.
A recent Gartner study showed that 15 percent of a customer's purchase process is spent on the "deconfliction" of information. This includes pricing comparisons and product reviews. Gartner says that if these are the circumstances under which a customer is making a decision to buy, they're more likely to be unhappy with their purchase, or they'll fail to make one all together.
And, if customers are stressed when they buy something, they're more likely to regret a purchase, Gartner says.
Why stress customers out even more with a plethora of options? By narrowing choices, you'll be a breath of fresh air to customers. They'll feel more confident about both their purchase and you as a brand they'll return to in the future.
Experiments show people are more comfortable with fewer options
You may have heard of the famous jam experiment, in which customers proved that less choice means greater likelihood of purchase. Here's how it worked.
At an upscale grocery store, customers were invited to approach a booth featuring various types of jams. One had 24 options, the other just 6. The experiment was meant to measure both how often people approached the booth and how often they purchased the jam.
The results of each were significantly different: the booth with 24 different options had only 3 percent of stopping customers purchase the product, while 30 percent bought jam when there were only 6 options.
But there's another very important note here. More customers actually stopped at the booth when there were more options available, leading the researchers to conclude that even though customers think they want more options, these extensive options end up reducing the likelihood that they'll buy.
One way to manage this revelation would be to narrow options for purchase as a customer makes their way through your funnel. This way, there will be less options for them when it's actually time to buy, which is the true test.
Customers want simplicity across the board
Customers have shown that they prefer the entire decision-making process to be simple and straightforward. A Harvard Business Review study showed that the one component that made customers convert more than any other was decision simplicity. This included simplicity within the entire buying journey, from gathering and verifying trustworthy information about the brand to option weighing.
HBR suggested that brands shift their focus to helping consumers make confident decisions. This can be done by simplifying navigation throughout the website and the purchasing process. Limit distractions during this period. You don't always need to throw in up-sell offers before the purchase, which could make shoppers lose trust in your brand.
Also, try incorporating personalized comparisons so eCommerce buyers can see relevant information in an easy-to-digest format. Don't overwhelm them; just include the basics that are relevant to the content they've been viewing.
HBR gives an example of a hair product line asking buyers a series of questions about hair type and length to finally show them the options that would work best for their needs.
The bottom line is that the easier you make the process, the more likely people are to like you. And to buy.
Don't overthink it – offer and advertise your most successful products and narrow the choices. You'll end up with more satisfied, stress-free customers.