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CHOICE… ARE WE OVERLOADED?

Living in a world where there are more brands and products than ever before, sometimes you can be left feeling overwhelmed? It doesn’t really matter what your planning on buying, clothes, beauty products, services and everything in between, we are inundated with choices. To some extent having a huge range of choice is astounding. Ulf Bockenholt, a professor of marketing at Kellogg states ‘Having a choice is a very basic need’.

Choice Overload

 

With this basic need, we can find ourselves with more and more options both offline and online and fall into a ‘choice overload’ scenario.

Having choice allows an element of exploration and discovery but having too much of it, can create stress and push you into abandoning your purchase, or simply reverting to products you already know or have.

Therefore, it’s important that customers are taken on a journey much as you are with a story. You do not walk into a room with every page laid out across a wall and forced to take it all in. Instead you are presented smaller, manageable pieces of information that you can comfortably process and more importantly enjoy and connect with on an emotional level. This applies to any purchasing process whether it be physical or online.

Online & offline

 

Online shopping is convenient, you can do it anywhere, wherever you are in the world with virtually limitless options.

Due to the sheer volume of products we often filter down to what we think we want, reducing what is presented to us. By doing so, we are at the risk of falling into a trap of removing a whole world of products and options. As customers we crave inspiration and surprise, but these feelings can often be supressed by the filtering process. From personal experience when shopping I leave the house with a vision of what I want but invariably return with something else, driven by the serendipity of discovery within the physical environment.

Physical environments can provide a greater playground for engagement and inspiration. As human creatures we love the sense of discovery and opportunity to explore and play. These spaces do not allow you to filter out what you do not want to see, it is an opportunity for brands to not only present customers with what they’re looking for, but also provide them with greater inspiration and hopefully something unexpected.

We believe this is what makes Selfridges such a successful brand and experience. Selfridges is a retail destination, a playground of inspiration, products, great service and most importantly choice. People don’t go to Selfridge purely for what they think they want; they go to be engaged, inspired and surprised. Hoping to find a product that makes them feel amazing or a gift that will make the recipient feel truly special. Similarly, we can go to online art galleries or exhibitions to be inspired (which is something that has exploded in recent weeks) but will never replace actually being there, we wouldn’t be able to truly see it, hear it, smell it, feel it and this is no different for physical retail experiences.

We like to have choice but more importantly we like to feel an element of control. We are all very different in the way we shop across the retail landscape demographically and behaviourally, in some cases these will be linked, in other cases they won’t be. The challenge that brands are faced with is how to hit the optimal point of providing their very different customers with the best experience possible, allowing the decision-making process to be a pleasurable one.

 

Our choices should continue to evolve and adapt to our customers’ needs stretching from the expected services and products through to richer brand connections providing places for customers to socialise, learn, rest, work and grab a coffee.

 

 

We think it is about giving your customers choices, just not too many. One is about enjoyment, pleasure and learning the other is about convenience. By understanding both options you can tailor experiences to customer needs.

What we believe…

 

 

 

Online

 

1_

With UX and A.I. being the most important aspect, provide your customers with a sense of discovery and filters in minimal clicks to help them make the right choice for them.

2_

Dedicated areas for discovery by curating your products ensuring customers can easily articulate their needs throughout their experience.

3_

Limit assortment size by curation and personalisation, hierarchy of categories don’t have to be the standard.

 

 

 

Instore

 

1_

The environment needs to be created with an exploratory methodology at its core.

2_

Say goodbye to the ‘typical’ customer journey. It does not all have to be selling, create spaces that are not purely dedicated to products, but areas of inspiration and community.

3_

Helpful or unhelpful, we’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Store staff need to be the best reflection of a brand purpose and are your greatest asset. The personal touch can often be the best way to present you with curated choices.

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