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Make It Easy to Choose Two

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on September 10, 2010

Can’t decide between the peach and the cherry ice cream for your cone? Then have a scoop of each.

Researchers at Yale University find that by encouraging your shopper to buy more than one of the available alternatives, you make it less likely they’ll turn around and walk out of the store or abandon your e-commerce shopping cart. When presented with a large set of similarly attractive options from a product category, consumers who feel constrained to select only a single alternative become tempted to put off the purchase. So make it easy for your customers to choose at least two. Consider the following tips:

1. For the consumer, the main downside of the double scoop is the additional expense. Give a discount for the second item. Set a package price that results in a lower per-item cost, such as six pairs of socks, two each of the three most popular colors. Waive the shipping fee. Researchers at the University of Texas-Austin and University of Southern California report that, on average, when customers saved an average of $8 on shipping and handling, they ended up spending $15 more on merchandise.

2. As another approach to pricing, offer tasting packages at a higher per-quantity price. On the menu, include an entry for six small glasses of beer—one each of six unusual brews—at a price that’s more per ounce than if a customer buys a large mug of one brew. The customer pays extra for the value of avoiding indecision.

3. In your offerings of items available in an assortment to satisfy tastes—such as colors of a sweater or flavors of yogurt—anticipate that the customers will want to buy more than one variety. In face-to-face selling, say something like, "You probably noticed that this sweater comes in other colors as well. Which of those colors might you want to look at?" In signage, list the available flavors along with the text, "How many different flavors do you like?" In e-commerce, have a small square on the screen for each available color and instruct the customer to click on each square for items they’d like to see if those items are available in their size.

Bruce D. Sanders, PhD
Consulting psychologist
Vacaville, Calif.

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