How Many Choices are Too Many?

Sometimes too many choices can overwhelm your customers.

Don’t understand?  Let me give you an example:

A few years back, I represented a company that made ‘berry’ products (very big in Idaho).  When she first started out, she exhibited in craft shows.  And being ambitious, she had several different berry/fruit products, such as huckleberry, blackberry, blackcap, elderberry, chokecherry, gooseberry, plum, apple etc.How Many Choices are Too Many?

Sounded like a good idea as choices are always good … at the least that is what she originally thought.

Over time, she noticed that too many people could not decide on which berry jam or syrup they wanted to purchase, so they left without purchasing ANYTHING!!

Of course, it did not take her long before she narrowed down her line to four different berry products and discontinued the rest.

This all happened before I started working as her sales rep, but I could understand the situation.

As a sales rep in Idaho, huckleberry is the biggest selling product!  Most stores I worked with were not interested in any other gourmet berry product.  But those stores who did, found it fairly easy to take on the rest of her line of blackcap, blackberry and chokecherry products.

I would imagine that if her line was much bigger, I would have trouble selling the extra berry products — just like she had at the farmers markets and craft fairs.

The Artsy Shark recently posted an article about an artisan having a similar problem.  This is what they suggested:

The truth is that no matter what you have for sale, there are bestsellers, mediocre sellers and slow sellers. It’s typical that your bestsellers will make up about 20% of your portfolio. Then there are bestselling sizes, and others that are rarely purchased.

Start by pulling out those choices that don’t sell well for one reason or another …

Look at the range of images that you have for sale. A body of work that is too small isn’t good, since it doesn’t give enough choice. One that is too large creates an inability to make a decision. It’s up to you to determine through experience the size of portfolio that is just right to maximize sales while keeping your customers satisfied. Don’t give into the fear that you might miss a sale because you don’t have enough options; you might miss sales because you have too many.

If you are looking for a guideline, I found that three or four options were about all that a buyer could effectively deal with concerning a certain product.  After that, they became confused.

Of course, every product line is different.  Only three of four different styles of jewelry is probably too small.  But maybe, only earrings, necklaces and bracelets would work better than having several different types of jewelry.

One strategy that I found very effective — especially when dealing with a line that featured several options — is to create an opening ‘starter’ order of best selling pieces/items.  That removes the ‘analysis paralysis’ of having too many choices out of the buying process.

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