“More or Less” for Effective Merchandising



A lot of people (and some Chihuahuas) can get very excited about choices. They love going to stores and getting to look through a large selection to find the exact right thing that’s perfect for them. And that’s true, sometimes for some people.

However, a study from 2000 found something very interesting.  In this study, shoppers were presented with 2 different displays. One display had 24 jams. The second display had 6 jams. Well, 4 times more different jams must make the first display the best display, right? Not necessarily.

What the researchers found was that the first display with 24 jams got 60% of the shoppers to stop, which Is great.  And 3% of the shoppers bought some jam from that display.

The second display with only 6 types of jam only got 40% of the shoppers to stop. Clearly, not as good, but, there’s a surprise. 30% of the shoppers actually bought jam. You don’t need statistics to see that that is a significant difference.

Why? Well, less can be more. Sometimes too many choices can be overwhelming. The shoppers walked away because it took too much effort to figure out the right choice from the larger display.

You have to put this result in context but it can help you build better displays. If your customers come to your shop to see what you’ve found, then fewer, carefully-curated items may result in better sales.  There are an incredible number of products and services that fit within this approach.

However, if your customers come to your shop looking for something very specific or for a specific task, then a large number of choices could be the right approach. Think about looking for the right fishing lure or the right screw for a wood working project. More is better in this case.

You’ll need to figure out what type of customer/products you have – and you may have both kinds.  So for each display, you’ll need to figure out which approach will work best.  Figuring this out may result in significant increases for your bottom line!

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