Hi everyone. Today we’ll be talking about something that affects us all and yet remains unknown to most of us: decision fatigue.
“What is it?”
Regardless of who we are we have all been through it at some point in our daily life. But what is it exactly? It is “the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making” (online dictionary) it is often linked to our willpower to accomplish tasks.
In other words, your brain is like a muscle that you use throughout the day and every decision you make is a new exercise that will eventually make it tired. Once you reach that point of tiredness, even the easiest choice becomes a burden and something you would rather not do.
Put it this way: say you’ve just been out for a run, once you’re finished with that the simplest moves such as crouching or going up the stairs becomes painful and you would try to avoid this uncomfortable feeling of pain in your legs. Well if you do it for your legs, why not do it for your willpower?
Psychologist Barry Schwartz suggests in his book “The paradox of choice” that too much choice can lead to:
- A higher chance of taking bad decisions
- More anxiety
- Higher chances of dissatisfaction and paralysis.
This means that too much choice puts the potential buyer in a situation that will lead it to postpone the purchase or cancel it altogether because the thought of exploring all the options and deciding which is best is just too overwhelming for them. In a similar way, people experience the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO): you always think something better will turn up so you keep waiting and eventually end up not doing anything at all.
Furthermore, with more choice comes more space for post purchase regret: you settled for an item, but you keep thinking how the other option could have been a good fit too, if not better. Decisions become unnecessarily harder to make; each option has a trade-off. This is not something we want to feel for something that should be pleasant like shopping or ordering food.
“Can we stop this from happening?”
Sadly, decision fatigue is not something you can just delete out of your life, it will happen at some point depending on how intense your day is. The good news is, there are ways to prevent it from happening too soon and affecting your decision making:
- Most researchers and articles related to that matter suggest that prioritising your decisions will help you out a lot: taking the most important and impactful decisions first and simplifying the “secondary” choices as much as possible.
- Simplify your choices by reducing the number of options: this will stop you from overanalysing each situation and it will surely save you some time and effort. The lucky number you are looking for here is three; that way you have enough possibilities to make a thought through decision without having to spend ages on it. Also, we are unconsciously facing 3 choice decisions during our everyday lives. Think about it: a podium has 3 places, we have 3 primary colours, 3 sizes (S, M, L), even Goldilocks had 3 beds to choose! This is why we feel more comfortable having 3 possible solutions.
Although reducing the number of possibilities to examine is a sure way to help you decide, some people argue that not everyone will agree on which choices and criteria to eliminate or keep in every situation. This is true, everyone has different needs; Which is why most websites offer you to filter your criteria yourself. Apps like Pickzen go even further and allow you to take a personalised quiz to assess the best outcome for you and select three products for you to pick from.
“But how does that apply to my business?”
Decision fatigue is what visitors on your website may experience when browsing.
You have a large variety of products, all with different features that range from generic to specific to fit any possible customer, that’s great. However, all these options can be destabilising to an extent: “Which one is best for me?” “What makes that one a better option?” “Is that enough for what I will use it for?”
Don’t get me wrong, choice is good and everyone should have the opportunity to choose in any situation. But what Schwartz says is that more choice gives you higher expectations that often are too high and will end up disappointing you regardless of what you decide on buying.
This does not mean you have to create less products, it means you should help your customers make a conscious decision that will make them happy. Obviously you cannot make a decision for them, however you can give them the possibility to guide them and help them find the product/service that best fits their needs. Pickzen helps you (and ultimately, your customers) narrow down the selecting process. How? Quite simply, by just asking. As mentioned above, it will narrow down the choice and make it easier for your consumers to pick. Additionally, it will give a better consumer experience altogether: it gives more assistance than ordinary filters, is responsive and dynamic and will adapt to your client’s answers.
And voilà, here’s what decision fatigue is. If you’ve felt this way before and want to find out more about it I suggest you check out this video of Barry Schwartz that explains it in more details.
If you have an e-commerce business and feel that Pickzen will help you make your website more user friendly and assist them in their search for the perfect product, come try it out here and check us out on Shopify.