Businesses have always been intrigued by the science behind choice. What influences purchase decisions? What makes customers choose one product over the other? How can a business or a salesperson manage to convert more people into customers?
These are important considerations. However, many businesses are obsessed with adding more products to their assortment and completely ignore the advice and recommendation part – something that customers need so badly to navigate through the product jungle.
Focusing on products and neglecting the value of “easy shopping” and a streamlined product discovery leads to frustrated shoppers resorting to selecting products based on single parameters such as price. For businesses, this inevitably leads to a situation in which it gets harder to compete, as price is not a unique differentiator that makes shoppers stick.
Customers love choice?
It has always been a dominant assumption that shopper want lots of choices. The truth is that, while people like choice in general, they do not only want choices, but better choices. In her famous TED talk “The Art of Choosing”, Columbia University’s professor Dr. Sheena Iyengar, who is the world-leading expert on choice, challenges these 3 popular assumptions:
1. If a choice affects you then you should be the one to make it
2. The more choices you have, the more likely you are to make the best choice
3. You must never say no to choice
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“we all have physical, mental and emotional limitations that make it impossible for us to process every single choice we encounter, even in the grocery store, let alone over the course of our entire lives […] A number of my studies have shown that when you give people 10 or more options when they’re making a choice, they make poorer decisions.”
– Sheena Iyengar
The Paradox of Choice
Customers are starting to realize that having a plethora of options can result in really bad choices. And science backs this up with studies that show that an abundance of choice ultimately leads to dissatisfaction: the joy in having a myriad of options does not compensate the insecurities connected to abandoning all the other options. To dispel such doubt, customers intuitively seek affirmation of their decision in the form of personalized recommendations and expert advice before making a purchase decision.
When experts talk, customers listen
The advent of the Internet and new technologies have practically flooded the consumers with endless choices to consider. It’s not surprising that they turn towards the same medium for rescue. People seek expert opinion or customer reviews before making a choice, be it a movie that they are planning to rent, or their new smartphone.
In the modern, fast and noisy world, there is no way customers can make the right decisions in all product categories. When buying non-commodity products customers almost always require some sort of expert advice and personalized product recommendations.
Product recommendations based on a shopper’s individual needs minimizes the number of options that customers are given to consider and eliminates the risk of buying the wrong product. Such assistance can be provided by Guided Selling – implemented in the store, be it in the high street or online, wherever shoppers need honest advice to choose. This approach is grounded in scientific findings and allows businesses to take advantage of the natural propensity of people for seeking product advice.
Interactive product advice is not only a fancy way of showing products to your customers, it is expected to become the norm in the coming years, and not tapping into the trend is a missed opportunity for your business.