Why you should not offer more choices of products?

Why you should not offer more choices of products?

With the growth of the Internet and the ever increasing need for products to meet the various customer demands, the number of choices being offered are also increasing. Naturally, when it comes to any eCommerce Store, the general idea has been, greater the number of product choices, higher will be the sales. Unfortunately, this is not always true.


In-fact when it comes to offering choices of products, less is more. Yes, that’s right.

Colorful Artist Acrylic Tube Paints Display Shelf

In his famous book “The Paradox of Choice” psychologist Barry Schwartz illustrates that when it comes to offering more choices, they paradoxically produce paralysis rather than liberation.


He further goes on to say that even if customers manage to overcome this paralysis, they end up being less satisfied with the result of the choice, than they would be if they had been provided with fewer choices of products.


This maybe explained as a result of opportunity costs – which essentially says when there are lots of alternatives to consider, people may imagine the attractive features of alternatives that they have rejected thus make you less satisfied with the alternative that you’ve chosen. Also Nobel Prize winning behavioral economist, Daniel Kahneman calls it as loss aversiveness. People tend to focus on what they are losing out on, rather than what they are getting.


So even though the customers may end up purchasing a better product , he may not be happy that he made the purchase. Further they may feel regret for not choosing the other product and also end up blaming himself which in the limited choice would not have happened as Schwartz jokingly says

“One consequence of buying a bad fitting pair of jeans when there is only one kind to buy, is that when you are dissatisfied, and you ask why, who’s responsible- the answer is clear. The world is responsible. What could you do?”

Sheena Iyengar, a Columbia School of Business professor also did a study in which she examined employees’ decisions when it came to participating in the 401 (k) retirement benefit plans offered ti them by his employers. If there were only 2 funds offered, participation rates peaked at 75 percent, but when there were 59 funds offered, participation rates dipped to a low of approximately 60 percent.

assortment of jam in the glass jars

In another field demonstration, a tasting booth for jams was arranged California gourmet grocery store to demonstrate the paradox of offering multiple choices.


While potential customers were passing the the tasting booth, they would witness a a display with either 6 or 24 different flavored jams. In the experiment 60 percent of the people walked to the table in case of 24 choices of flavors as compared to only 40 percent when only 6 flavors.

Why Less is More - Sheena Iyengar

White bars: Percentage of people by who approached the tasting booth

Solid bars: Percentage of people who approached & subsequently purchased jam.

Source : How Much Choice is Too Much – Sheena Sethi-Iyengar, Cur Huberman & WeiJa,ng


However, as shown in figure, 30 percent of the customers who saw only the limited selection actually ended up purchasing the jam, while only 3 percent of those offered the wide range of selection made a purchase.


Thus, while offering too many choices may be good for attracting the customers and increasing traffic to your e Commerce store it may end up leading to analysis paralysis and thus more abandoned carts.


To conclude online retailers need to re-order and tweak product choices being offered, test things out and see what works for yourself. Remember, less is more.

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