eCommerce

How Social Proof Messaging Helps E-Commerce Shoppers Make Up Their Minds (And Why Shoppers Find It Hard to Choose In the First Place)

By 

Marjorie Leonidas

 on 

October 24, 2018

Science tells us why we can't make up our minds. For e-commerce retailers looking to sell to thousands of online customers, faced with hundreds of product choices, this is a problem. How can social proof help them to choose?

A new batch of interesting internet statistics were released this year, courtesy of WeAreSocial. Their Q4 2018 Internet Report finds that there are apparently now more than 4.2 billion humans online, and, of those lucky to live in the world’s top economies, some 83% have searched online, with the intention of buying a product or service, in the last month. What’s interesting is that 74% of those actually bought something. And, as we’ll come onto discuss, a high portion of these will have given up because of indecision.

Shopping is social and emotional. Where we used to take a friend, partner or unlucky child shopping, for a second opinion, the rise of e-commerce and social media has seen us consult the same people over our mobile phones. But, if we don’t get the feedback that we want, or we are still overwhelmed by the amount of choice, and there are no real-life shop assistants to be found, we’ve all found it impossible at one time or another to make a decision.


It’s a challenge that I’ve heard recently from senior retail speakers at a number of e-commerce industry events. Online retail has it tough. It costs a fortune to get customers to your website, and yet more investment to merchandise your products in a memorable way. And yet, as the data shows, there’s a percentage of consumers who will completely fail to buy (and of course another proportion who go onto buy on a competitors’ site).


For the portion who can’t make a decision, the science of indecision is real. Shoppers will experience the same emotion whether they’re choosing between hundreds of red dresses, lunch choices or mobile phones. Because there are no online shop assistants or understanding about what in reality is flying off the rails, this freeze is compounded when shopping online.  


It’s a challenge that Taggstar is here to tackle. In this blog, we share how we are helping Victorian Plumbing to combat indecision, helping it to make £159,000 in incremental revenue over 30 days alone.  You’ll also read at how fast fashion brand, In The Style, saw a conversion rate uplift of 5.3% using our social proof software.


Warning! The Science Bit

Science Daily recently published a 20-year old California Institute of Technology study. Apparently indecision comes down to anterior cingulate cortex and striatum (say what?). In simple terms, it’s proven that our brains will struggle to make decisions when faced with a bunch of similar options. And this is a problem for online retailers.


In the study, the test group  was given a choice of different jams, and asked to choose. Brain activity, and ability to make a choice, was at its highest when subjects were choosing from 12 jams. But as the amount of choices increases, our brains start to tire from the mental effort and the prospect of diminishing returns. This is linked to the reduced prospect of getting the best reward as our choices increase.


Real-World Retail Indecision

Some of the retailers that we work with have over 1,500 dresses on their product list pages. If our fictional customer called Jenny wants to buy a red dress, how does she choose? Moreover, for the retailer, when faced with consumer indecision, how does a brand manage to move a customer from the initial product page, and then to the basket.  


This isn’t just a problem for fast fashion. In the case of trade sales, where failure to decide on the right right product, can hold up a job, the impetus to find an e-commerce solution is even more critical. Take our other fictional shopper, Joe the Plumber. Joe needs to buy a white ceramic loo for his next job, and can’t make up his mind. If you’ve ever tried searching on a large DIY site, you’ll understand his problem. There are hundreds or similar choices.


Every online retailer, in every product segment, will be familiar with the problem. When consumers are drowning in product choices, but are (back to the science), mentally incapable of making a choice, what’s the solution?


Social Proof As A Proven Solution

We get it. Life was simpler when we only had the shops on our local high street to choose from. And yet, despite the abundance of choice, there’s a huge proportion of longstanding, successful online retailers.


Taggstar has been helping the largest online brands to combat shopper indecision, and to successfully nudge them down the shopping funnel since 2013. We do this, by providing the next best thing to an online shop assistant.


Using product messages across the entire shopping funnel, we help customers to narrow down choice by sharing real-time best sellers, what other people are buying, what’s hot, trending, low on stock and what shoppers are about to miss out on.


Our technology can not only aggregate trends to show Jenny and Plumber Joe what the best-selling red dress or white ceramic toilet is in the UK or US, but can also consolidate international shopping patterns, to show what’s most popular, trending, or highly reviewed across the world. Our knowledge of the best messages, and message combinations, is helping the largest online retailers to deliver ‘off-the-charts’ increases in their product conversion rates, revenue and AOV.   


Need proof? Back to dresses and toilets again.


Victorian Plumbing has been able to compete with the online plumbing giants using our social proof messaging to make £159,000 in incremental revenue over 30 days alone.  Fast Fashion brand In The Style has also seen a conversion rate uplift of 5.3% using Taggstar.


Maybe it was easier when we only had the shops in our local city centre to buy from, but for the 4.2 billion humans online in the world, we’re ready to support the new age of e-commerce.


For more information about adding social proof messages to your website, or to read more of our customer stories, visit www.taggstar.com.

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