How Can UX Combat Analysis Paralysis?

A recent online purchase experience made me think about the extreme analysis paralysis we encounter on an everyday basis given the infinite choices available to us online. I simply needed a lightbulb for a desk lamp. Pre-Amazon, one would choose from the few options at the local hardware store and be done with it. To avoid having to walk to an actual store and interact with real people, I searched for light bulbs on Amazon and got over 200,000 results. This included smart bulbs, bulbs in different wattages and shapes and sizes, vintage style, soft white or amber warm…and the list goes on.

I spent over an hour sifting through the overwhelming number of choices trying to find the simplest, cheapest one. This is a perfect example of how we sacrifice simplicity for convenience and specificity. While it’s great to provide users with different options, having too many choices can lead to frustration. To make sure users are having an optimal experience and that your e-commerce conversion rates are reaching their potential, it’s essential to provide assistance to users when they’re making purchasing decisions. Here are a few tools you can implement that may help your conversion rates:

  1. Filters & Sorting — This is the most commonly used method of helping users narrow down their pool of options. What’s important to keep in mind here is what those filters are. What are the factors that will most influence a user to make a purchase? Does this change depending on the time of year or location of the user? Even after these elements are taken into consideration though, one challenge that still remains is that this method only works if users know what they’re looking for. In my lightbulb example, Amazon provided numerous ways to filter and sort, but it had been years since I purchased a light bulb and I didn’t know exactly which kind I needed so these filters didn’t help direct me to a decision. In this scenario, it helps to implement other tools in addition to filters and sorting.

2. Reviews & Ratings — These days, 70% of customers consult reviews or ratings before making a final purchase and as many as 79% of consumers trust product reviews as much as a personal recommendation. While filters allow users to narrow down options by specific elements, ratings and reviews provide users with real-life context and doesn’t just explain what a product is but how a product is. While I couldn’t successfully use filters to choose a light bulb, by reading through through reviews and seeing images that users posted of the product in use, I was able to select the one that was right for me. Allowing verified users to leave reviews will give consumers more confidence in their purchase and will also provide you with a wealth of data on where to improve based on user feedback.

3. Behavioral Analysis — Taking a look at what behaviors lead to certain outcomes can help you predict what kind of products customers would be interested in. This knowledge allows you to recommend a subset of products to a segmented audience based on their previous behavior, thus increasing the likelihood of a successful conversion. Another benefit of behavioral analysis is the ability to cross-sell. Even though the main product I was looking for was a light bulb, because I’ve searched for so many other items on Amazon, they served up products related to items I’ve viewed and items inspired by my browsing history that could potentially convince me to purchase additional items. While this won’t necessarily direct me to the right light bulb choice, it may remind me to fulfill and incomplete purchase.

4. Augmented Reality — A more recent and innovative technology that can enhance a user’s purchasing experience is augmented reality. By allowing users to place a product in the actual context it will be used before making a commitment to purchase it goes a step beyond reading other consumer’s reviews and allows the user to experience it first-hand. In 2017, Amazon launched an augmented reality feature as part of their app. As of right now, the products included as part of this functionality fall mostly in the kitchen appliance and furniture categories, but as the product categories grow and the user experience becomes more finessed, this tool will become a way for users to make more informed decisions on products.