Are you offering your customers too much choice?

Do you ever find yourself spoilt for choice? That’s what happened to me at a restaurant this weekend. The menu consisted of something like 12 starters and at least 30 main courses. I was overwhelmed by the choices, as were my companions. It got me thinking that it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

When we offer our clients too much choice they become overwhelmed and that can mean that they defer a decision to buy. Ultimately they may even buy from a competitor who has a simpler offer.

Do prospects understand your offer?

It is all too easy to keep adding extra products or services because someone asks for it, believe me I’ve fallen for that trap too often! What tends to happen is that we become a ‘Jack of all trades’ and may be seen as ‘the master of none’. Prospects find it difficult to ‘get’ what we do or they don’t believe that we have the expertise to meet their needs so they go to a specialist. We lose out.

Does too much choice reduce your profitability?

Offering customers more choice can also have a serious impact on our profitability. The restaurant offering 30 choices of main course has to have all the ingredients available for each dish so money is tied up in stock some of which will probably have to be thrown away. It’s the same with retailers who stray too far from their core offer by stocking items that have a very small market, there will inevitably be waste.

We need to resist the temptation to say yes to all enquiries, to stock items just because one customer asked for it or to add more to our menu just because we can. We need to ask ourselves why we are adding new products or services and consider whether the one in and one out principle should apply. We need to understand our numbers. How many do we sell? How much profit do we make on that product or service? Does that product or service lead to more profitable sales or a long term relationship with the customer? We need to make our decisions based on the numbers, after all we are in business to make a profit.

1908 Ford Model T ad from Oct. 1, 1908 Life ma...

1908 Ford Model T ad from Oct. 1, 1908 Life magazine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Henry Ford understood the benefits of keeping things simple when he said of the  Model T car, ‘You can have any colour you like so long as it’s black!’ Perhaps that is just a little too extreme for the 21st century but keeping things simple makes them much easier to manage. Are you making your customer’s life more difficult by offering them too much choice?

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