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Paradox of Choice for First-time Buyers

Paradox of choice for first-time buyers is a real problem. The average shopper is making around 35,000 choices in a day. That’s a lot. The problem is only compounded for first-time buyers.

First-time buyers are people new to your site who have never bought from you before.

My “western boot” story

I watch PBR so I see Ariat on TV a lot.

I’ve never worn a western boot. But want to.

So, I did a Google search for “western boot” …

Google search for "western boots"
Google search for “western boots”

… and landed on: https://www.ariat.com/men-western-footwear-cowboy:

134 options. That causes paradox of choice for first-time buyers.
134 options

There were 134 designs. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

We know from research shoppers struggle with more than 6 choices (Sheena Iyengar’s famous jam experiment).

After 30 minutes I settled on their Men’s Sport Wide Square Toe Western Boot.

There was a video at the lower half of the page. In the video, at the 1 minute mark, the boot expert said: “if you are new to western boots, and have never worn one, you need to this”

This video really helped solve my paradox of choice dilemma.
Helpful video solved my first-time shopper anxiety

And I was like, “bingo, that’s me!”

This video solves a first-time buyer’s dilemma.

But here is the thing, I only serendipitously found this video. There was a 1 in 134 chance I would have found this page (that’s how many designs they show) and then, only a 10% chance I would have found the video buried way down on the page.

Paradox of choice for a first-time buyer.
Video is pretty low on the page

Let’s assume 10% of visitors to Ariat are new to western boots. For Ariat this a key demographic.


Because people who buy their first western boot will likely be buying more in the future. If Ariat can convert these folks it represents a significant opportunity to drive up customer lifetime value.

Our idea to solve the paradox of choice issue for new visitors.

On the landing page, they could have added a little “new to western boots?” call out. People who click it could be taken a custom-designed page 100% dedicated to helping shoppers see how Ariat is THE place to buy western boots. Once that pitch is made they could show their top 3 picks for the perfect western boot for a first-time buyer.

Why give 3 options?

Because of something called Single-option Aversion. The basic idea is that while shoppers do get overwhelmed with too much choice they also hate too little choice. 3 is the perfect goldilocks zone 🙂

Key lesson: avoid paradox of choice for first-time buyers at all costs. If you solve it it’ll magically improve your conversion rates.

A little about us

Thank you for reading this article about the paradox of choice. We are Frictionless Commerce and over the last 11 years, we’ve thought about just one thing: how do we get online shoppers to convert? We’re fascinated by buyer psychology. And once we understand how your site visitor thinks we use our 9 point copywriting process to convince and convert them.

If you’re on LinkedIn much you can should definitely connect with me. On LinkedIn, I post ecommerce conversion ideas every day, multiple times a day.

Other buyer psychology-based eCommerce conversion ideas

If you liked this article you’ll love our other ideas:

“Is My Marketing Working?” A Unique Product Page Design Idea

Price Insensitivity Priming

Product Reviews & Buyer Psychology

Making Long-Form Content Mobile Friendly

Personalized Product Description


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