Picture this. It’s the not-too-distant past, and you need to buy a new helmet for riding your bike.
So you waltz inside the bike shop, and explore the selection of eight different helmets they offer. You have a brief chat with the sales assistant about budget, features and safety ratings, and you make your selection before leaving to pedal till your heart's content.
Poof - we’re back in the present. The same purchase is going to be a very, very different experience. You don’t go to a storefront. Their selection seems paltry. Instead, you begin to shop the infinite aisle.
From the comfort of your own home, you have the choice of literally thousands of bike helmets, spread across hundreds upon hundreds of different shopfronts. All varying in price points, with varying qualities and credibilities. It’s… a lot.
It amounts to infinite choice — the kind that opens up huge freedom for consumers; but paralyzes them at the same time.
Why does this matter?
Purchase paralysis: It’s a major issue for consumers and businesses alike.
On the consumer side of the coin, the paradox of choice (a term coined by Barry Schwarz that we’ll dig into in more detail in subsequent pieces) can be crippling. The overwhelming number of products and services that are now offered can leave customers like an excitable puppy; eager to chase their tail, before they realize the task is too big and give up on it.
It’s proven: overwhelming choice, when not backed up with verifiable and trustworthy reviews and opinions, can lead customers to give up on the process altogether. (“Maybe I don’t really need a bike helmet…”)
As for businesses, online retail has never been a more crowded or competitive space. Ask yourself: when was the last time you saw an online business that didn’t have multiple competitors fighting for market share?
So for companies looking to emerge as market leaders, each would-be customer that falls off their purchase pathway (or ends up elsewhere) is a step away from success.
How can we make online purchasing better?
This is a question that underpins everything that we do at Trustpilot – for both customers and businesses alike.
When people navigate the infinite aisle, one of the main aspects that can steer them towards a purchase is reviews. Reviews can be a relief in the face of overwhelming choice. Consulting the hive mind of other consumers gives those on the purchasing path confidence and a clear sign they are heading in the right direction.
But not all reviews are created equally.
There are specific issues that take someone from hovering over ‘add to cart’, to logging off and giving up, including:
Deliberately harmful or abusive reviews
Secretive moderation practices
Lack of communication between businesses and customer reviews
To free up consumers and keep businesses looking healthy, these issues need to be called out and tackled.
Helping your customers reckon with choice
Starting with today’s blog, we’re putting out a ‘Paralyzed by choice’ vault of resources and information. We’ll explore the issue of frozen customers, why this really happens, and what companies can do to make the internet a better and more trustworthy place to shop.
We’ll explore what the modern buying process really looks and feels like for consumers with a scrolling journey titled ‘Navigating the purchasing pathway’, and we’ll dissect how companies can remedy choice overload in an eBook entitled ‘The antidote to purchase paralysis’.
Throughout all this, we’ll explore the fundamental role reviews and review platforms have to play in this.
We want to raise a flag for the online consumer experience — and then make it better. So come along with us.
Our new eBook about purchase paralysis and how to solve this problem via the trust-powered journey is available to download below.
Cutting to the chase? Get in touch with us to see how Trustpilot can help your business today.