Do you know the rule ‘less is more’?
Well, it applies to online shops too.
Ecommerce businesses have plenty of products – more than any other websites. These products need to be displayed for all customers to see. But how to show them without overwhelming anybody? You see, too many options often lead to ‘analysis paralysis’ which in turn may push people away and even lead to fewer sales. In this article, we are going to focus on the problem of information overload and how to avoid it.
Why customers don’t like big choice?
It’s hard work.
You need to solve their problem
And that means helping them pick the best toothpaste EFFORTLESSLY.
Online customers hesitate when given too many options. They feel trapped and lose confidence in their choices. Some feel like not making a decision at all or even leave the website to shop somewhere else.
Now, it doesn’t mean you have to limit the number of products in your shop. But the way you display them makes a whole lot of difference. Let’s see why it matters.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology published a study in 2000 conducted by two researchers – Sheena Iyengar of Columbia University and Mark R. Lepper from Stanford University. They had set up two stands in a supermarket with free jam samples. First stand offered 6 different flavors, while the second one had 24 options.
30% of customers who stopped by a stand with 6 jams had made a purchase – while only 3% of all that visited the stand with 24 samples parted with their money. We see that by giving customers less choice we take away the hassle and make a decision process simple and pleasant.
That also translates to online shopping.
Ecommerce websites have hundreds of products for sale. Then there are shipping options, discount codes, social sharing – one page gets very busy indeed. How does a shop owner give online customers what they need without cluttering the page? The secret is in good navigation and excellent content strategy.
Let’s see how brands do it.
ASOS is one of the biggest online clothing retailers. They are selling thousands of items and offer plenty of other options – blog, market place, season’s best picks… Yet when you land on their website you are given two primary choices: Men or Women. You are not being asked to do anything else. That’s the main focus of the homepage.
Only when you hover over a category tab, you see more selection – arranged by a product type, collection, sale etc. You can either dive in and discover their famous marketplace, or find what you need within few clicks and make a purchase.
ASOS realizes that if they displayed all their links on a homepage and gave too many options at once, online customers would be overwhelmed and leave.
There’s a reason why Google is no.1 search engine and most visited webpage in the world. It has a simple design and one small function: search. In contrast, Yahoo gives us a lot of choice: should we see what’s trending, click on the video feature or check an email account? The search bar is pushed to the side and kind of swamped with too much clutter.
There are many things fighting for our attention, which may cause stress and confusion. With today’s busy online marketplace that’s something we tend to avoid, so the rule ‘less is more’ is more important than ever.
Reduce number of fields
Similar thing was discovered by brands offering subscription only services.
Unbounce, an online marketing Academy, hosts popular weekly “Master Unbounce in 30 minutes” demos. Wanting to improve their conversion rates, Director of Customer Success, Ryan Engley, decided to limit the number of field options in the online form from 4 to 3. That change alone led to 16.93% rise in subscription rate.
Reducing fields to a manageable number made it easier for people to make a selection.
That, of course, has good and bad sides.
Ask yourself what is your objective – more leads or more QUALITY leads?
The order of the fields plays a major role too.
In a recent study, MECLABS Institute discovered that by moving a telephone number field from the first step to the second, the conversion rates of their online form increased by 68%.
That proves that you should keep testing to find what’s working for you and your customers.
Online business owners are often told to get as many shares as possible. Hence they feel pressured to pluck the sharing buttons on each page of their websites.
But is it really working?
If your product page is already cluttered with too many options, adding social share buttons probably won’t do you any favors. In fact, it will be just another distraction. The focus of the page is to make online customers click ‘Buy it’ button. Anything that takes attention away should be avoided.
Remember: ‘less is more’.
Finnish hardware store Taloon.com has recently removed all the sharing buttons from their product pages. They realized they were only distracting from main purpose of the page: to make online customers buy.
Did they worry about ‘negative social proof’? Probably, but after a trial period they discovered their conversion rate increased by 11.9%. It turns out the button options were only cluttering the pages and hurting their business.
Conclusion: always test what’s working for your website and monitor the changes until you find the best results.
Limit your options
But what if you want people to share your content?
Here the ‘less is more’ rule also applies. Let’s examine it further.
This blog wanting to attract more shares, decided to give as much choice as possible. As a result, the area looks cluttered, uneven and un-cared for. Two Facebook picks?
Too many options bring zero shares.
They have only two options: Facebook and Twitter. These are also two major social media sites. If someone wanted to share their content on a different platform, they can just click on the ‘Share+’ button – simple and straightforward – resulting in hundreds of clicks.
Which social platform is best?
If you’re not sure which platform to feature, just focus on the ones you’re monitoring, or the ones that bring the most amount of traffic. B2B website will get more shares on Twitter and LinkedIn, while image oriented businesses, like wedding photography or bakery will find more popularity of Instagram and Pinterest. Key is to be brave and always run A/B testing when making the changes.
Remember – stick to a simple rule: have one objective for each page. Anything that distracts from that goal should be removed or muted.
Have one goal for each page
Just see how American Eagle Apparel does it.
Their homepage has one purpose – to draw attention to a sales tab – which offers only 3 choices: Men, Women or Clearance. When clicked further, online customers have more options: tops, bottoms, lingerie, winter wear etc.
Only after picking these it’s time to select color and size. This way the shopper journey is manageable and they know exactly what to do next. The links to other parts of the shop are present, but they are small and pushed to the edge in order not to distract from the main purpose.
Take a look at your website – is it clean and simple? Or are there too many options that confuse the buyers?
I know you want to tell your online customers of all that you offer, but remember – less is more. The most popular ecommerce websites right now have the simplest designs.
It is often hard to make objective decisions yourself as a business owner, so it’s worth consulting with a friend or hire freelance content writers to make the changes in order to improve your conversion rates.
Remember, be brave and bold with your choices and always run A/B testing to find the best results working for your niche and online customers.