Twice recently, I’ve come across a classic study on consumer decision making. The original was first presented in 2004 in the book The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz. He’s also given a TED Talk on the same topic (It’s well worth a look). It got me thinking about how we could apply his conclusions in our business. His key idea is that limiting choice actually reduces buyer anxiety and post purchase remorse – it makes us happier shoppers!
He conducted an experiment in a deli, where customers were given the chance to taste a range of new jams.
On one table, there were 24 different jams on offer. On the other, there were only 6. Both tables were popular, but when the sales from each were tallied, there was a shock result. The table with only 6 jars generated 10x as many sales as the other table. Choosing between 24 jams was just too hard, so people did nothing.
I started to think how we could use that knowledge in our printing business, which serves a broad range of small business customers, from startups to established enterprises on a fast growth curve. I think there are at least 3 areas where we could learn something from the jam story.
1. Website Product Display
Do we have too many products and services promoted on our website? Maybe not, but they could be sorted into a smaller number of readily understood categories. The options available are not always as easy to find as they might be. This means we often get asked the same questions by prospects and new customers. We’re currently rebuilding our website, and this will be in the forefront of planning for the new site.
2. Too Many Products?
We probably don’t want to reduce our product range substantially, as one of our points of difference is the ability to print exactly what customers need. Being flexible and responsive to their specifications is an important benefit of buying from us. However, in our initial sales conversations (keeping the jam example in mind), we need a smaller introductory range to start the product selection process. For many customers, that range will hit the spot immediately, and for others could help rule in or out the options which will meet their needs. Overall, it could make the buying process easier and faster for most people.
3. Buying Process
Managing this is a big one in our business, because of our diverse product range. We are working hard to standardise provision of customer information and pricing, and order processing. Because ours is a personalised service, that can sometimes be challenging, but I’ve noticed every time we create a standard package or process, the buying experience is better for customers. They know exactly what they have to do, and what to expect from us. And it makes our lives easier! It doesn’t mean we can’t make exceptions, but they become just that, whilst most people are looked after in a streamlined and efficient way.
I know we can lift our game in all these areas by using the “less is more” philosophy.
Have a think about your own business. Is there room for improvement? What might happen if you tried “less is more”?