It seems like giving your customers lots of choices would be a good thing. The more choices, the more likely they are to find exactly what they are looking for right? It turns out that too many choices actually results in fewer sales. In this article, we’ll talk about why too many choices is a bad thing and how you can increase conversion rates by reducing choices.
The problem of choice
A few years ago I built a website for a company that sold reverse osmosis water filters that fit under your kitchen sink. This company had a great product that provided awesome tasting, incredibly pure water. The problem was, the filter system was really complicated to purchase because they have an incredible number of options.
- Filters for artesian wells
- Filters to remove iron
- UV lights
- Anti-microbial tubing
- Pumps to increase the efficiency of the filter
- Various sizes for the tank that holds water after it’s filtered
- 20+ choices for the color of the spigot that dispenses the water
- Optional refrigerator kit to filter the water to the fridge
…and that’s not even all the choices. So, if you want to buy one of these filters, you have to sort through all these options. Rather than winning customers by allowing them to get exactly what they want, they are actually turning away customers because they don’t know what they want and, therefore, don’t buy anything.
To solve this problem, we created a separate micro site that only listed the top selling features as a single, complete package. All the choices were stripped out and now the customer shows up at the website and the only decision that needed to be made was “Do I want this water filter or not?” The microsite more than tripled the conversion rate for this product! Creating a microsite for each of your products is not usually necessary. Again, the water filter example was an extreme example to illustrate the point. The general idea of packaging up your product in a way that allows your customer to buy with as few decision points as possible is the goal.
- Eliminate unnecessary and/or unpopular options
- If your product needs accessories, create product “bundles” that include everything required
- Streamline the entire purchase process to remove decision hurdles
- Don’t force your customer to study, research, and analyze in order to make purchase
How to get choices out of the way
The most important choices to clean up are the ones directly related to buying the product. The water filter example is an extreme case because it has a ton of options and all the options are required choices. You can’t have the water filter without the tubing, or the tank, or the spigot. Making the product as simple to purchase as possible is very important.
Choices show up in more places than just product options. The other key place where choices can crash your sale is with shipping prices. We’ll discuss how to set shipping prices for your store in another lesson, but the idea is to just have one, fixed price shipping choice. Ideally you offer free shipping and bundle your average shipping cost into the price of the product. If you can’t offer free shipping, the next best thing is to have a shipping cost that is known up front, before the customer reaches the checkout page. If you calculate a unique shipping price for each customer on the checkout page, you are introducing another choice right when you want to be closing the sale. Now, your customer is going to “shop your shipping” to see if cheaper shipping can be found some place else.
The main point is that you want to make purchasing from your site as easy as possible. Don’t clutter the path to checkout with lots of options and choices. You want your customer to purchase on impulse without having to analyze the transaction. The more analysis that is required to purchase your products, the lower your conversion rate will be.