A confused mind does not buy, and offering customers too many choices can cost you sales.
Conventional wisdom is that the more choices customers have, the more likely they are to buy. That may be true when customers have very specific wants or needs, and they know what those wants or needs are. However, often having lots of choices just confuses customers and they do not buy anything. This is especially true if the customers believe the choices are very similar to each other.
One company tested this idea this way: They put 26 flavors of jams and preserves on a table. Customers could taste any or all of them, and if they made a purchase they got $1 off. People circled and chatted, but they didn’t try and they didn’t buy. There were more choices than they could effectively process, so they withdrew. Buying jam is not a life-altering decision, yet customers opted to make no decision rather than risk making a “wrong” decision.
Later, the company repeated the exercise with just six flavors. This time, people sampled and they bought. After all, it is easier to make a choice between raspberry and grape than it is to choose from among red raspberry, golden raspberry, black raspberry, golden red raspberry . . .well, you get the idea.
Do your customers have a hard time deciding where to start or knowing what products or services they need? Ask a few questions to determine their needs, then make a strong recommendation of the right starting point. After all, you are the authority and they are turning to you. If they seem tentative about committing, make their first experience with you low-risk. Don’t suggest they take the most expensive option or make the longest commitment. Recommend an entry-level product or service safely within their comfort zone that will help them get the results they need.
If you find that your customers are knowledgeable and opinionated, and they want lots of options available, you can offer choices while still making it easy for the undecideds. Offer a “standard” or basic product that meets most customers’ needs. Make options available so customers who know what they want can get exactly the right mix. Then, package some of the most popular options together. For example, Dell Computer has standard computer configurations you can order. If you aren’t sure exactly what components you need, you can buy one of their standard configurations. Or, you can start with one of the standard systems and add and subtract components until you get the system that is exactly what you want.
Bundle products together so that customers don’t have a lot of decisions to make, and they will appreciate how easy it is to buy from you. To make the bundle more enticing, offer a discount for the package. The same principle works for services, as well as products.
Somewhere between Henry Ford’s, “You can get it in any color, as long as it’s black,” and today’s trend of too many choices, will be the level of choice your customers find comfortable. Find that level and you’ve found your customers.