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Are Your Sales Suffering Because Of TMI?

If your ecommerce site has lagging numbers, it might be a case of your sales suffering because of TMI. While many sellers believe that product information is a crucial factor for consumers, especially online, we think this common assumption is a bit off and providing too much information actually can cause more harm than good.

While a little information is good, too much information can be bad.

Assumption vs. Analysis

Most people have heard the saying about “assume” that you “make an ass out of you and me” and that certainly seems like it is the case when it comes to this topic.

Recent analysis of online retail statistics shows us that over 80% of retailers feel that providing product information is a key aspect to attract customers. The logic is fairly simple; by properly informing a potential customer with product details, reviews and technical information they can make the best informed choice.

Of course that is the assumption. Retailers assume that people want to be smart shoppers and will take the time to utilize that information.

However the reality of further analysis in the form of A/B testing shows us that people are less likely to purchase a product that has an abundance of information compared to the one with just a product image and some general details.

Logic vs. Emotion

The interesting thing is that people surveyed do not realize that they are making a choice because of receiving too much information. From testing, the focus group repeatedly stated that having product information plays a primary role in the decision of whether or not to purchase.

What this shows is the common occurrence of how we often mistake decisions of logic for decisions of emotion.

There is an idea that we as humans are logical creatures and when we make base economic decisions it will be done in a logical manner. However while this is sometimes the case with products that have to meet very specific criteria or goals, for the most part logic takes a back seat to emotion because often retail decision making is an emotional process tied to impulse.

People use intuition or hunches to make many decisions, which is actually something developed via emotion-based learning. That is where we apply the emotional memory of something that happened in the past to current scenarios, which takes place subconsciously.

For example, when you ask or tell your wife that you will be staying out with the boys for another hour to watch football and she says, “That’s fine,” in a specific tone; your emotional memory reminds you that no, it most definitely won’t be fine which is why you leave fifteen minutes later.

TMI and Impulse Buying

So now that we have worked our way down to understanding the difference between a logical process and emotional process for shopping, we can focus on why too much information is bad for ecommerce.

Exposure to too much information psychologically forces users to invest more time and energy that they planned on using. People can’t help it; with a lot of informational available they are typically compelled to review it to ensure they don’t logically make the wrong decision, which in turn limits the possibility of an emotional impulse purchase.

That exposure to information triggers the logical side of the brain and our normal rational thought process which makes the entire purchase process much more complicated. Do I really need this? Are there other, better products than this? Only 4 star ratings, why not any 5’s? Have I researched prices enough to know if this is the best deal?

By providing too much information you are opening the door for second guessing and doubt and removing impulse from the equation which is going to limit sales.

Is there a better method?

Ideally now knowing this you will look to cater to more of an emotional response with customers. That means focusing on the brand and appearance of a product to create an intuitive and emotional response. Some data, of course, is useful, but not so much that you encourage a rational analysis.

Lengthy paragraphs about features should be trimmed down to simple bullet points. Technical language should be relatively non-existent. However if you must have the information, make it available with tabs or other on-demand design aspects so that people can access it if they want for the market segment that finds it important.

But is this tricking a user? The answer is no because if someone wants to buy something they will; it just might not be from you and your site because someone else might appeal to their emotions rather than logic.

The bottom line is that if your sales are suffering because of TMI, the logical response should be to perform some analysis and testing to see if less is actually more when it comes to selling in your market and if so then adjust and enjoy the results.



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