How to increase sales 6X

Reduce products to increase sales

Increase sales

Maybe you are a product designer, and believe that the key to success if having lots of products.  Or a shop owner and have been buying lots of stock. Or a website developer with menus of service offerings.

Increasing your product choices could be reducing your sales.

Is there such a thing as too many choices?

Have you ever found yourself paralysed and not been able to make a decision? So you decide to purchase nothing?

There is such a thing as too many choices.

Have you heard of The Jam Experiment?

The Jam Experiment was conducted in the USA by Sheena Iyengar, a professor at Columbia University about 10 years ago, but the findings still hold true today.

In this experiment, a supermarket set up two different displays over 2 separate weekends.

On the first weekend, they set up a jam display with 24 flavours for sale.

On the second weekend, they set up a jam display with 6 flavours for sale.

The traffic to the displays and subsequent sales were tracked for each display. Can you guess which display sold more jam?

Does more of a good thing mean you’ll make more sales?

Here are the results.

For the jam display with 24 flavours, 60% of the customers stopped, and only 3% purchased.

For the jam display with 6 flavours, 40% of the customers stopped, and a huge 30% purchased.

The smaller display, with few jam flavours, sold 6 times more.

It seems there is such a thing as choice overload.

When we are overwhelmed by too many choices, our decision is often to do nothing. This is a choice! In the case of the jam experiment, 97% of the people who came to the 24 flavour display CHOSE TO DO NOTHING!

Not only can we increase sales by not overwhelming our customers, but we can also reduce our inventory costs! And drive up profitability.

What does this mean to you?

If you are an online retailer, then consider reducing your menu items. Try to group your products into logical menu items.

For example, you might be a jeweller, and sell necklaces, beaded necklaces, special gems, sterling silver necklaces and so on. Group all your necklaces together, rather than in separate menus.

If you can get the total number of menu items less than 6 or even 5, then it will cause less confusion, and hopefully increase the likelihood that the visitor to your site will stay longer.

Have you had this happen to you? Too many choices? What did you do?

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Comments

  1. t
    This is a big one for me – I am one of those who would buy from the choice of 30… To use the jam example, I am always on the lookout for Cherry Jam but it’s o9ften hard to find cos most shops only stock the usual varieties.
    It comes out in my products in that I am guilty of offering too much choice for many people… I think this needs some serious attention!!!

    • Ha! Cherry Jam. You have gourmet tastes in jam obviously.

      Just an idea …

      How about still offering the same choice, but try a displayed a reduced amount of stock.

      Then as you are assisting a customer, you may ask her what she had in mind. A particular colour? Design? Style?

      As you learn more about her needs, it might be something you have tucked away from view.

      And you know, sometimes that product that comes out from behind the counter is the one that is most desirable?

      Has anyone tried this?

  2. I too am one of those with way too much choice on offer! Certainly something that I will be putting some thinking into, as not only is there the issue of too many choices for buyers, there are too many choices for ME to create! I love your idea of reducing display stock and offering ‘under/behind the counter’ products to meet the needs of the customers, would you think a smallish sign on a market stall for example, advising that other variations in style are available, please ask etc etc would be a good idea for those busy times?

    • Hello Belinda

      Thanks for asking. That is a really good question.

      My opinion is No, don’t have a sign.

      Here is why.

      If you have a sign indicating there is more choice available, but it isn’t out to be seen, then you risk frustrating those people, who feel like you’re not showing them the ‘good stuff’.

      We are curious by nature aren’t we? And we THINK we need to see everything first. Don’t we?

      So I believe the sign would be setting yourself up for a bigger problem.

      You indicate that you might like it for the ‘busy times’. If you are truly busy (assisting the sale), then you don’t need the extra products, because you are probably already selling what you have successfully?

      So I really see it as useful when you are working with that prospective customer, and you are understanding what she needs, and you realise that you probably have what she wants under the table.

      But here is my warning.

      Don’t get anything out unless you are SURE you’ve understood her perfectly, and you’ve got a good match for what she wants. Is she being indecisive for other reasons?

      This is where advanced sales techniques really kick in, and not something I can sketch out in a sentence or too.

      How does all that sound?

  3. Hello Belinda

    Thanks for asking. That is a really good question.

    My opinion is No, don’t have a sign.

    Here is why.

    If you have a sign indicating there is more choice available, but it isn’t out to be seen, then you risk frustrating those people, who feel like you’re not showing them the ‘good stuff’.

    We are curious by nature aren’t we? And we THINK we need to see everything first. Don’t we?

    So I believe the sign would be setting yourself up for a bigger problem.

    You indicate that you might like it for the ‘busy times’. If you are truly busy (assisting the sale), then you don’t need the extra products, because you are probably already selling what you have successfully?

    So I really see it as useful when you are working with that prospective customer, and you are understanding what she needs, and you realise that you probably have what she wants under the table.

    But here is my warning.

    Don’t get anything out unless you are SURE you’ve understood her perfectly, and you’ve got a good match for what she wants. Is she being indecisive for other reasons?

    This is where advanced sales techniques really kick in, and not something I can sketch out in a sentence or too.

    How does all that sound?

  4. I have used choice to work out which colours are the most popular. If there are 30 to pick from, which colours are picked. If the most popular is taken away, which one is next.

    I could rank in order of popularity from 1 to 30 of my colour range because I’ve done a lot of testing people’s choices.

    I have one product though so it’s only a choice between colours. There are no different sizes, styles or shapes. Many customers do take ages to pick and while they’re doing that I make it fun and validate their choice once they’ve made it. Can’t have buyer’s remorse. I say things like “good idea, that’s the one you liked first”

    A matrix of options colour, style, shape, size it can be overwhelming.

  5. Hi Jenny
    I hadn’t been into the blog before this – very interesting thanks! We struggle too with if we have too much or not enough stock on display. The cakeplates take up a lot of room but try to have 8. Then there are doves and butterflies (about 20 each), 20 clocks, jewellery about 30 rings, 15 necklaces. How do we fit it all on the table? Each item is totally unique so that is an issue for us. We do keep stock under the table if we find out what the customer is looking for. Are we on track? Thanks Jane

  6. Hi Jane

    Welcome to the blog.

    Mmmm, sounds like a lot of stock, so I can see that it might cause a problem.

    One way to look at it, is that although each piece is unique, unless the shopper actually spies that exact piece, she may be blissfully happy with what she has in front of her. You know – ignorance is bliss?

    For example, you might want to drop down your clocks to 15 and also your doves and butterflies. And then as you sell one, you replace it from under the table.

    If your shopper can’t find something she loves on the table, then that is where it is important you’ve worked with her to understand just what she is looking for.

    The golden rule — DON’T tell her there is more hidden. It is a big No No. We hate to think we are missing out, so human nature is that we’ll ask you to get everything out and show. And then, not buy anything.

    Another idea — what about a (hidden under the table) catalogue of images. If she can’t choose from what you have, then that would be time to pull out a catalogue and show her? But again, only when she has described to you just what she is after, and you have understood exactly what her needs are.

    I think you’ll find that with this much stock out, she might be frozen in indecision, and by reducing the choice, you might increase your sales?

    Oh, and a final thought — keep out what you sell the most of — and keep it upfront and centre!

  7. Hi Jenny,
    This topic is certainly something to argue about. However I am with you Jenny, I get confused if I have too many choices and generally leave the place to think…
    In my experience in retail, I notice that if I put too many choices on my display customers get very confuse and devalue my product because people mix full X cheaper.
    Also is a good opportunity to tell to your potential customer that you hold more stock you just need to know what they are looking for; style, colour, special event….

    • Jenny Spring says:

      Thanks Anna.

      You definitely don’t want to devalue your product by having an excess of it. And in your case — beautiful shoes — your customer is paying for a highly desirable, limited edition shoe. I’m sure she doesn’t want to see many other people in that shoe.

      Holding stock in the back room is a good idea. Just don’t mention it until you have exhausted the options of what is on display first. Otherwise she’ll definitely have you running back and forth to fetch everything that is not on display! We are curious and don’t like to think we are missing out on something!

      Jenny

  8. Karen Cunningham says:

    Does that hold true for websites too Jenny? I’m assuming I should show everything I have on the site, but group into more manageable sized categories perhaps?

    • Jenny Spring says:

      Karen

      Good question!

      Yes, definitely!

      You should give no more than 6 options. Beyond that you risk confusion and frustration.

      If you can do the work for them, and group into more manageable sized categories as you have asked, that might be a better idea.

      Jenny

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