Simplify and Personalize the Route to Purchase

A couple years back, I had the opportunity to be one of the coaches for the Elk Valley Dolphins Swim Club. It was my first go at coaching and Cath Liversidge gave me a crash course. One of the first, and most valuable, things she taught me was you cannot focus on more than one thing at a time. If she told me to think about my arm position, breathing, and kicking all at the same time I was able to improve none. To improve as a coach I took workshops and read books. This theme of focusing on one thing at a time kept coming to the forefront. If we were working on arm position, that was all we worried about and the other pieces we could deal with another time. Perfect that one thing and then it will work with the others. We had to simplify what we worked on and refine each piece on its own to go faster.

As consumers, we like things simple as well. Researchers Patrick Spenner and Karen Freeman developed a “decision-simplicity index.” This index gauges how easy it is for consumers to gather and understand (or navigate) information about a product or service. They found that the higher the index (the easier the purchase decision) the more likely a consumer is to purchase, to re-purchase, and to recommend the product or service. In a Harvard Business Review article, Spenner and Freeman note three ways you can improve our decision-simplicity index.

1. Aiding Navigation
Customers will seek information about you through your website and your staff. Are you giving your customers a clear path to what they want? Look for ways to create an efficient path to the information they want; the more you can personalize the route the better. Your customers are looking to understand how your product and services meet their needs, and they are also looking for reviews about your products and services. Are you making it easy for them to find this information? I was recently on a national electronics company’s website. I abandoned my search because the pathways were hard to follow and I kept ending up away from the product I was looking for and feeling like I had to start over. Keep the navigation simple.

2, Building Trust
Think about the last time you were researching a purchase online. Did you read product reviews? Deloitte reports that 81% of people read reviews and check ratings on their path to purchase. Reviews and information gathered by the consumer are tools you can use to build trust. Make it easy for your customers to access reviews while ensuring transparency in the information you are providing. Gather reviews from people who have used your products and services that speak about their experiences. The decision-making process is simplified when consumers trust the information you are presenting.

3. Making it Easier to Weigh Options
In helping consumers make purchases, sellers will often provide technical details, use industry jargon, and provide side-by-side comparisons. However, this does not help the consumer answer their questions. For example, I really don’t want to learn the difference between an i3, i5, and i7 processor for my computer. I want help choosing a computer for work (or for gaming or for design). Are you making it easy to understand your products’ features and benefits in terms that make sense to your customer? Instead of side-by-side comparison, why not educate your consumer with tools that help them identify and weigh the features most relevant to them. You must identify the essential features of your product and explain them to the customer. For example, the quality of diamonds is measured by the “4 Cs” (cut, colour, clarity, and carat). Knowing what makes a quality diamond, the consumer now has tools to weigh essential features and make an informed choice.

There are a lot of actions to help increase your decision-simplicity index. Just like the athletes, tackle one piece at a time. Work on navigation with simple paths. Build trust around your product and services, and assist the consumer in weighing options. And then build simple paths to your products and services that help the consumer find what they want.