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Why More is Less in E-Commerce – The Paradox of Choice

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As consumers, we like to think having more choices is always a good thing. After all, why would we want to limit our options when shopping for that perfect television? In reality, too many choices can leave us paralyzed, staring blankly at a sea of T.V.s without any idea where to start. As an online retailer, eliminating this overwhelming feeling in your customers is becoming increasingly important; so important that product recommendation software, such as BestMatch, will be the future of online consumer commerce.

The phenomenon of too many choices was examined scientifically in American psychologist Barry Schwartz 2004 book, ‘The Paradox of Choice.’ In the book, Schwartz develops a happiness scale with which to measure a consumers’ experience when presented with choices. What he discovered was that too having too many options leaves us feeling depressed and isolated, as we become overly concerned with our potentially missed opportunities.

Surely we can all relate to the feeling of wishing we had made a different choice. At some point or another we’ve all asked ourselves: “what if… What if there was a better car or stereo or television that I should have bought.” When we have too many choices, we tend to linger on the ones we didn’t make, rather than praise ourselves for the ones we did.

In light of this data, Schwartz argues that eliminating, rather than adding to, consumer choices actually improves ones’ happiness. Presenting customers with a streamlined selection of the best matched products allows them to focus on how happy they are with their chosen product, as opposed to how happy they might have been had they chosen a different product altogether. Applying this fascinating principle to E-Commerce, one can clearly see the powerful ability product recommendation software can have on improving your customers’ happiness.

Product based happiness refines your customers’ choices to only those most relevant to them. It shrinks the overwhelming chaos of your online inventory to a manageable portion that is sure to be better received by your customers. Reducing the number of superfluous choices for your customer will have three positive outcomes: first, it will improve the quality of their decision making. Second, it will make their process of buying the right product significantly less stressful. And third, it will ensure that once they buy a product, they will be more satisfied with their decision. As an online retailer, these three outcomes are enormously beneficial to customer retention and return sales.

Product recommendation engines such as BestMatch are hugely beneficial to retailers, as well as consumer. Through calculated algorithms they help refine the dizzying array of consumer choices, working to eliminate Schwartz’s Paradox of Choice. Integrating a BestMatch engine into your online store will not only ensure your customers purchase the products that are right for them, it will also contribute to their emotional satisfaction as consumers.

The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less – Schwarz, Barry – HarperCollins, ISBN-10: 0060005696, ISBN-13: 978-0060005696 http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10639.The_Paradox_of_Choice?from_search=true


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