Part of running a successful ecommerce business is the ability to keep buyers coming back for more. Excellent customer service has long been a determining factor in a buyer’s loyalty, but you may be surprised to learn it’s not the only thing you can do to make sure your customers buy again. In fact, for a guaranteed return visit, you need a quality product, excellent customer service, and choice closure.
Choice paradox is that pesky psychological hangup that occurs when buyers have too many options available. Maybe those options aren’t all available from just one online store, either. With your products and those of your competitors, buyers can get overwhelmed.
In some cases, those buyers just won’t make a choice at all. They’ll experience choice paralysis and never end up making a purchase. You can help a buyer avoid this particular situation, but again, since your company isn’t the only one selling similar products, there is no way to guarantee buyers won’t still struggle with their choice.
What Is Choice Closure?
If you work hard to eliminate choices for a buyer, leaving them with only the most obvious products, then you’re sure to earn a purchase. That’s the very lesson learned with choice paradox. If you can’t or don’t eliminate all but the obvious choice, a consumer who makes a purchase anyway may suffer remorse later. They’ll agonize over the other options that were available and wonder if they made the wrong decision.
The decision they made doesn’t always revolve around the price paid, either. Yes, getting a great deal is important to consumers, but a quality product that will solve their pains is much more important. Consider a buyer on a cosmetics ecommerce site with 400 different shades of blush. Even after you help them narrow down the shades that match their skin tones, eliminate the brands that test on animals, and include only the options that have a blush brush included, the choices may still be overwhelming.
After the purchase is made, that buyer might regret spending so much when another brand may have offered the same results. Or, she might regret choosing the cheaper option when the better brands give a more professional appearance. Without some way to reassure the buyer that she made the right decision, you leave that avenue open for regret.
How to Offer Choice Closure
In most cases, choice closure comes with a physical act. It might be testing the product in the store before making a choice. It can even be as easy as placing the purchase in a bag and carrying it to the car. That feeling of making the right choice ends the problem right then and there. For online shoppers, though, the closure isn’t there. Opening a box and removing the new purchase isn’t quite the same as doing the reverse: putting the purchase into a bag and calling the job done. In fact, opening that box and removing the new purchase could start a whole new series of regrets.
How can you offer closure to a buyer? What can you do to provide that comfort consumers need? Keep three things in mind while you decide. First, the buyer has to perform the act of closure. It’s not something you can do for them. Next, the buyer has to know the act they perform is one of closure, of completing the purchase. Finally, the closure has to happen after they make the purchase.
How you can help buyers attain choice closure:
Ask consumers for a review or rating on the purchase
Provide space for buyers to flaunt their purchase
Wrap purchases to resemble gifts so that opening takes on new meaning
Using Choice Closure Against Competitors
It’s okay to assume that your competitors haven’t attempted to offer closure to their buyers. Just think of all those customers out there struggling with buyers’ remorse because there were just too many choices. What if you presented your products to that buyer again, while he or she is still considering the many other purchases they might have made instead? There’s a good chance you’ll have a new customer next time they need something.
Then, of course, you help them avoid choice paralysis and give them choice closure. When you do these things in addition to providing excellent quality and customer service, then you have a customer for life.
Originally published Mar 17, 2016 10:30:00 AM, updated February 01 2017