‘Less is more’ when competing with Amazon
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the IMS Results Count blog.
When is too much choice a bad thing? Brain scientists and psychologists have discovered that too many choices overwhelm our brain. Too many choices become intimidating, frustrating and can result in fewer sales. Amazon.com has literally been creating a “store of everything.” Few retailers can afford to compete with the “more” of everything in Amazon’s ecosystem.
However, retailers can offer customers more relevancy and value by narrowing choice through curation.
Barry Schwatz wrote in “The Paradox of Choice“ in 2004, “We can imagine a point at which the options would be so copious that even the world’s most ardent supporters of freedom of choice would begin to say enough already.”
We have reached enough already. My recent search for “smarthome light bulbs” on Amazon yielded over 5,000 product choices! We as consumers cannot begin to read all of the descriptions, specs and customer reviews. The danger for every retailer, even Amazon, is that we become frustrated, fear that we will make the wrong choice and abandon our cart.
Instead of showing and stocking more, retailers must focus on showing less and leveraging curation at a number of levels:
- Curating assortments: All choice options for both physical and digital retail need to be constantly tested. Less is only more if curation improves customer experience, increases conversion rates and grows sales. The presentation of choice options online and in store also has to be optimized to make it easier for customers to decide.
- Curating knowledge: The best way to help customers decide is to curate rich content, which illustrates how a product is used by customers in their daily lives. More stuff and details on the product packaging or web product page do not make it better. More photos do not make it better. Customers want essentials.
- Curating talent: Apple is the epitome of less is more in stores. Its stores are clean, uncluttered and focused on customer experience. However, its real differentiator is in selecting talented people and training them to ask questions that will help customers decide to buy what is best for them.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is “less is more” a viable approach to differentiating from Amazon and other mass assortment rivals? Do you see other ways successful retailers apply the less is more approach beyond product assortment?