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Customers love to have a choice.
And while searching for product info may not be their favourite way to spend an evening after work, they want to make sure they have thoroughly researched the product and compared available options before making the purchase.
Unfortunately, I’ve noticed this leads to some ecommerce brands following the wrong assumption that there are more choices the customer has, the higher chance of them converting.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Too many options can actually overwhelm the user to the point where they’re unable to make a decision and give up on the purchase altogether. There’s just too much going on, too much noise and the best thing to do is not make a decision.
This phenomenon is known as analysis paralysis and refers to our brain’s tendency to simply shut down when presented with multiple options that lead to overthinking and not being able to choose any of them.
Why do we experience analysis paralysis?
First, we don’t want to make the wrong decision and experience buyer’s remorse once the item arrives. It’s torture to buy a product, only to realise it’s not what we expected and feel frustrated for choosing it, so it’s natural we want to avoid that feeling.
Second, some products are more complex than others - think stocking up on something small or boring like cleaning supplies vs buying a new laptop. It can be pretty challenging for some, especially for non-experts who are unfamiliar with technical specifications.
Worst still, choice paralysis isn’t just limited to product selection. Your customers can be equally paralysed trying to choose between navigational elements such as product categories - they are forced to think too much, and so they can also give up here.
Ok, so how can you help your customers avoid feeling paralysed?
Firstly, understand that confused customers don’t buy. I know common sense dictates that giving customers more options makes the shopping experience more convenient, but this clearly isn’t the case.
Take delivery options. It feels right to offer 4-5 different courier services for the customer to choose one right for them, but what if they’ve never heard of some of them? You have just accidentally introduced anxiety into their experience that could quickly escalate and result in cart abandonment.
Second, limit the choice. Many ecommerce brands already do it - think product recommendations where only limited products are displayed, and the rest is hidden from the view.
It’s not just the products though, think about the information customers sees on your pages. Do they need to see them all at once, or are there any that should be highlighted and visible at first glance to better “qualify” the product?
Third, simplify the choice so customers can make the decision quickly and without too much overthinking. Yes, it’s about prioritising what your customer sees, but also actively helping them to make the decision faster with things like website quizzes.
It’s also always a good practice to make your customer support available quickly and easily to answer any questions your customers may have while trying to choose the right action or product for them.
Essentially, it’s about making the path to purchase as straightforward as possible and requiring as little thinking from the customer as possible.
What have you found to work well for preventing analysis paralysis?