In the post-online-shopping world, there are now nearly innumerable purchasing options for every style of item.
If a person wanted to buy a particular style of baseball cap in the pre-Internet world, they would have the following option:
- Go to a store
- Purchase one of the, say, 4 or 5 suitable caps that are in stock.
But in the Internet-shopping era, the process is as follows:
- Go online
- Find literally thousands of options at nearly all price points
- Find hundreds of reviews for each cap, ranging from “This hat saved my life ★★★★★.” to “This hat burned down my village and destroyed everything I ever loved. However, shipping was fast: ★★★☆☆.”
A person may be unable to decide on a suitable purchase due to two factors:
- The overwhelming quantity of options (“overchoice“).
- The incredible amount of information available about each option (“analysis paralysis“). This is especially seen in purchasing of consumer electronics (e.g. a new stereo system or a television).
Fortunately, the solution is very straightforward, and can be implemented by any web shopping site (see mockup in Figure 1):
- The user finds an item on the web site that is similar to what they’re looking for.
- The user adds this item to their shopping cart with a special button marked “SURPRISE ME.”
- Instead of adding the exact clicked-on item to their cart, the web site adds a similar randomly-chosen item that costs anywhere between 75% and 125% of the price of the clicked on item.
- The user is not informed of the actual contents of their shopping cart at checkout, only the total cost.
- A few days later, the mystery item arrives at the user’s house by mail.
Using the system above, decision paralysis can be avoided. This increases both the rate of all-devouring consumption of your customers, AND your company’s profit margins!
PROS: Could be legitimately implemented, probably does not break any local or national laws!
CONS: The rate of returns might be extremely high.