Faced with confusing choices, the online customer throws in the towel

Garnet Hill and The Company Store both sell great towels.

However, I now buy my towels exclusively from Garnet Hill. That’s because I can’t stand wasting time on the Company Store’s website.

TheCompanyStore.com is a slow-moving site with teeny-weeny pictures of products that appear in an only slightly larger version on the actual product page — c’mon guys, surely you have an original photo of the stack of towels that is bigger than 2 inches square!

But it’s not just the Company Store’s website. It’s the sales strategy — which is a bad match for online selling. They offer  7 types of solid-color towels that all look essentially the same in those tiny pictures, including 6 types of solid-color cotton towels. The prices of the towels aren’t all that different, so you’re faced with the prospect of having to click and read and click and read and click and read (did I mention that the site has no “compare” function?) to find out.

It turns out that, online or off, customers given too many choices are up to 10 times less likely to buy. Combine too many choices with a confusing website and you have recipe for customer frustration.

Garnet Hill towels

Why is this picture of Garnet Hill Signature towels so big?

I don’t have time to deal with this — I just want a great Company Store towel. Instead, I’m stuck wondering if the cheap one is cheap because it’s…cheap — and if the expensive one is worth it. Who knows? Who cares?

By contrast, over at GarnetHill.com, they have just 3 types of solid-color towels: Garnet Hill Supreme, Garnet Hill Signature, and a special line by Eileen Fisher. I click to see nice big pictures of the two Garnet Hill types — you get a choice of 6 thumbnails, all of which expand to 4 inches high. The difference is immediately obvious: “Supreme” towels cost more and come in fewer colors; “Signature” towels cost less and come in a vast array of colors — all easy to view by clicking a swatch to see a (great big) picture of the towel in the color you’ve chosen. So it’s easy for me to pick the Signature towels, check out two shades of blue, pick the one I want, and order the towels.

So: Sorry, Company Store. Your towels were great. I just didn’t have all day to spend  trying to figure out which ones I wanted.

1 Comment

Filed under Marketing Communications, Web Design

One response to “Faced with confusing choices, the online customer throws in the towel

  1. It is really something how it is “the little foxes that spoil the vine!” This is one of the smallest, but biggest things that I focus on when creating a website. If the user experience is not super duper easy and smooth, then you can guarantee that you will lose sales and profits!

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