It’s well documented that too much choice – ‘overchoice’, ‘choice paralysis’, ‘paradox of choice’, whatever you want to call it – rather than help people, causes a whole host of problems including a ton of anxiety and stress. When it comes to shopping online this ‘overchoice’ is just getting worse and worse.
Depending on what you’re buying, ecommerce can be nothing short of a nightmare, and the layers of choice, mismatching information, along with excessive detail we feel we have to evaluate is crazy. In some sectors, the sheer choice of brands/products to choose from nowadays is ridiculously overwhelming.
Shoppers turn to the mountain of information that they now feel obliged to wade through such as reviews, comparison sites, ‘expert’ views, product images/descriptions, YouTube, social media likes, etc. etc. This all adds to the problem though because opinions obviously differ so much. All this stuff is supposed to help, but it just doesn’t. You may even end up creating comparison spreadsheets that you think make the job of buying something so much easier…hmm. You do it hoping it will help – secretly knowing it won’t.
When it comes to buying clothes or footwear… Oh my goodness, you enter a whole new world of pain with that. Sizes mean nothing any more and they vary wildly, to the point where you need to pretty much guess which size to buy based on what other people have said. Size-guessing and sifting through other people’s reviews to try and figure out how big certain size is compared to your own can take hours. I feel like falling to my knees and weeping just writing about it.
Oh and then you may feel the need to check the auction sites just to see if someone is selling an “unopened present, but it’s sadly too late to send it back”. The temptation of finding an amazing bargain is always there, and it may just be on that next website you try. Annoyingly, you will sometimes actually find that bargain, which proves to your frazzled, overwhelmed mind that the bargains do exist… if you are willing to put on your straight-jacket and search long enough.
It wouldn’t be too bad if all the information on the ecommerce sites matched and was correct. It doesn’t and isn’t. The conflicting information on the different websites out there is truly astonishing.
Pricing is all over the place. The high street stores who now sell online are possibly the worst for this, as they simply don’t know how to handle the situation their businesses are in. They want to compete online, in fact they need to, but they need to cover the costs of their high street stores. They realize they need to be on sites like Amazon too. The result – different pricing on different stores/websites for the same product by the same seller. Some retailers try and do this in the vain hope that users won’t notice. In this day and age that doesn’t cut it because users will find out. The result is lost trust and no sale.
Does the nightmare end when you add a product to the shopping cart? Ohhh no, of course not! You may put a product into the cart only to find you can’t go through with it due to lingering uncertainty. Even when you finally place an order your relief is short lived as you find your cursor hovering nervously over the ‘cancel order’ button, and if you go through with it and receive delivery you know there’s always the option to send the product back. If you keep the product then ‘buyer’s remorse’ may kick in as you are left regretting your purchase.
The challenge with all this choice and detail is that all the retailers have felt the need to try and keep up. Sadly, most fall woefully short. Many seem to have lost the plot altogether. It’s amazing how many businesses go to the trouble of creating an ecommerce site, but then put up products with really poor descriptions/images that are simply incorrect. They just throw the products up in a rush thinking that it will do. It won’t.
This is the horror show of online shopping for many people nowadays. We are sucked into thinking all this choice and information helps us. For most people, most of the time, it really doesn’t.
What’s the solution? I can’t really think of one. However, from a business point of view, surely the ecommerce winners will be the ones who make the effort to get the details and pricing of their products right, rather than falling over themselves to hurriedly throw more on their site. Less is more. The old adage, ‘retail is detail’ has never been truer.