Choice Paralysis

Choice Paralysis

Choice Paralysis

Sometimes when shopping, we feel confused when there are many options. We do not know which products we should choose, and we always feel that no matter what we choose, the other option would have been better.

Psychologists and economists study the issue of multiple choices. They conclude that too many choices can actually paralyze people or lead them to make decisions that are contrary to their desires.

Indeed, when it comes to sales, a wide range of choices can hurt customer revenue. Scientists add that it is a mistake to assume that more choices are always better. It can depend on the information we are given as we make these choices, what kind of experience we have to rely on and how much importance we give to each choice.

Choice paralysis can happen to anyone, and with the right strategies it can be avoided.

A recent study shows how even a few milliseconds of pause can change the outcome of a decision. “Delaying the initiation of the decision-making process by at least 50 to 100 milliseconds enables the brain to focus attention on the most relevant information and block out irrelevant distractions,” said Jack Greenband, Ph.D., an associate research scientist at the Taub Institute.

This delay in decision making can be detrimental to e-commerce sites because it tends to cause customers to withdraw, they get hit by decision paralysis and so they decide to walk away and think about it. This will significantly reduce the number of people purchasing. Worse still, choice paralysis isn't just limited to product selection.

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Users can be equally paralyzed when trying to choose between categories of the same product as they are forced to think too much and thus disengage from the entire purchasing process.

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So what should we do?

• Simplify selection

Some online transactions are complex in nature, presenting products and their classifications in an overlapping and confusing manner. The solution lies in dividing the choices into more decision-making parts that are easier to process.

• Encouraging quick decision making

We all know that feeling when you start contemplating a decision, we reach a point where we can no longer see the options clearly, and even when we do make a decision, we are not satisfied with it. The longer we take to make a decision, the less confident we usually are in the outcome. The sooner someone makes a decision, the less likely they are to suffer from choice paralysis.

• Reducing options reduces choice paralysis

It is true that it is difficult to convince customers to limit the variety of products or the complex options they offer on their sites, but experiments have proven the feasibility of this action. Researchers in California conducted an experiment at a local grocery store. They set up a kiosk in the store to sell jam. On some days, the kiosk sold six flavors of jam, while on other days it offered 24 different types. On days when they sold 24 varieties they saw a sales rate of just four percent. When they offered just six options, that number rose to a staggering 31 percent. This experiment perfectly illustrates both the problem and the solution. However, there is difficulty in reducing the options, so the best solution is to hide some of these options. I have found other factors that play a major role in choice paralysis. It is not only related to the number of options, but it is also related to how clear these options are from each other.

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• Make the choices unique and distinctive

The challenge is not just about the amount of options but also about evaluating the differences between each choice. The more options there are, the more similar they are often, the more difficult it becomes to make a decision. Even choosing between two items may be difficult if the customer finds the difference between the items too subtle to make a clear decision. Whether we are talking about products, product classifications, or even navigating between different pages on websites and applications, the solution is always to make the options distinct and clear so as not to confuse the user.

• Shortcut options

Instead of constantly asking users to make tons of unnecessary choices, stick to the most common ones and give users the option to change them if they need to. We can apply this principle to everything from delivery addresses to credit card information. So that you don't make your customers choose it every time.

The abundance of options makes the decision-making process extremely difficult and poses a major challenge, especially regarding sales ratios and profit rates. It is necessary to know the defects and fix them, as this will bring a lot of benefit.

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