A couple of weeks ago I was on the phone to a customer who was interested in commissioning a portrait of one of her dogs.
I had spent a few minutes going through several available options for the style, colour, and print surface of the portrait, and when I asked ‘what size canvas do you want it on?’, her reply was ‘Oh, don’t give me any more decisions to make!’
By giving her so many options, most of which she hadn’t even considered before speaking to me, I had overwhelmed her and made the buying process hard work.
The Easiest Choice
There’s a famous study where two stalls were set out selling different flavours of jam. One stall offered 6 varieties, and the other offered 24 varieties. In the end, the stall offering only 6 varieties sold a lot more jam than the one offering 24, suggesting that it’s not always a case of the more choice the better.
Often, when faced with an overwhelming number of options, people will take the easiest choice and choose none of them.
If you give people too many options, they will choose none of them (Tweet this)
Tell People What They Want
In the end, my customer let me make the decisions for her, and I gave her the options that I thought would best suit the portrait.
Since then, I have made the ordering process much easier, by removing a lot of choice. I now have just two standard size options, and all portraits come printed on canvas as standard. Customers no longer have to make difficult decisions which may put them off making the purchase.
The fact is, a lot of people don’t really know what they want until you tell them. So you need to make sure you are at least suggesting what your customers might like, rather than having them make all the decisions.
However, as some people do like to choose every detail, I make it clear that custom sizes are available on request, so that people who want to make more decisions can still do so, but the people who like to have the decisions made for them won’t be put off.
Are you giving people too much choice?
If you offer a service such as commissioned paintings or custom-made crafts, how many decisions to your customers have to make before they can buy something from you? Could the number of choices available be driving people away?
Think about whether there are any choices you can remove. Do you have a most popular option, which you could offer as your standard product? Can you make any of the decisions for your customers to make it easier for them?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you agree that too much choice can be a bad thing, or do you think the more options the better? Leave a comment below and let us know about your experiences.