Balananovic from lastminute.com made some superb observations based on a book by Schwartz called The Paradox of Choice. Schwartz recognised that there are two types of people when it comes to choice – “satisficers” and “maximisers”. Satisficers will find the first thing that fits their criteria and purchase that. It doesn't have to be perfect but it if suits their needs in the main they are satisfied and generally don't have a high level of expectation. Then there are maximisers. Maximisers are the kind of people who will have a set of requirements and as they search, instead of narrowing down, they start adding requirements based on their results. Let me give you an example. I want a 3 star hotel in West London. The maximiser will start looking at hotels and notice one has a swimming pool and thinks they would quite like a swim and so now they are looking for a 3 star swimming pool boasting hotel in west London. Then a gym, or breakfast included, or satellite TV. Eventually they get a criteria list that means they search and search and search for a mythical perfect hotel. This also means they end up looking through everything and feeling less than overjoyed with their eventual choice and hence expectations are set too high.
The Internet, the way it is now, is a maximiser’s nightmare. There is so much choice and so many pages of results that they could be there forever creating impossible criteria and making it harder for themselves to make a decision.
Websites that offer a lot of choice need to embrace recommendations to help all visitors make better choices. Here's the crux however – the recommendations need to be excellent. Lastminute.com says they should be relevant, surprising and explainable.
Ecommerce is the place where this will have by far the best impact. Who can you involve to make excellent recommendations such as experts, recognised authorities or celebrities?