Want to learn how to easily get your first 5,000 subscribers? Download this free eBook to learn how.

How to Increase Online Sales By 600%
Last Updated January 18th, 2011

There’s a way for you to increase your online sales by 600%. And don’t worry, you won’t have to do anything shady or participate in any shenanigans.

When most people start selling stuff online, they often create extensive product and service lists. They think having a little something for everyone will help them get more sales.

The problem is, people think “more is better,” but in the real world, long product lists are conversion killers.  And if you want to increase your sales by 1,000%, you must streamline your offerings.

To illustrate, let me share Sheena Iyengar’s famous field test.

How to Increase Online Sales: Fewer Options, More Sales

Sheena Iyengar, a professor at Columbia University, set up a free tasting booth in Draeger’s supermarket—an up scale grocery store, known for an extensive product selection—on two consecutive Saturdays.

One Saturday, 24 flavors of jam were available, and on the other, 6 were available. 

Now take a guess. Which display sold more jam?

Given the “more is better” mindset, you’d think the larger display sold more. But that’s not what happened.

When 24 jams were available, 60% of the customers stopped for a taste test and 3% of those bought some. When 6 jams were available, 40% of the customers stopped for a taste test, but 30% bought some.

Huge results. While the larger display attracted more people, the smaller display sold more jam. About 6 times more. A 600% increase in sales.

Why Fewer Options Lead To An Increase In Sales

Buying products and services is mentally taxing. In most cases, it’s not a “black and white” answer. You need to understand the available information, evaluate if it is the right fit, compare it to competitors, and then decide whether to buy or not to buy.

When you have an exhaustive product list, your prospects will have to go through the above decision-making process for each item on the list.

That’s a ton of work!

And it also leads to what social psychologists call choice overload. To summarize, when people are confronted with several options, they often pick none of them and move on to something else.

This was evident in Sheena’s experiment. When 24 flavors of jam were available, 97% of people chose none, whereas when there were 6 available, 30% bought at least 1.

But the question remains…

How Many Options Should You Give Your Customers (and What’s Best For Increasing Sales Online)?

Fewer options means more sales in a supermarket. But how does this work online? Is there a “magic number” of options that give you maximum sales?

While this varies between businesses, in my experience and research, the magic number falls between 1 and 6. Let me explain.

Online Retailers (Customers Often Browse)

If you’re an online retailer, you should aim between 4 and 6 options.

People who shop retail tend to browse, so showing off more options allows you to capture their attention without giving them choice overload.

For example, Amazon, who is known for their rigorous sales testing, shows up to a maximum of 6 books in their “customers who bought this also bought section.”

Note, actual number depends on the width of your browser.

While I don’t have specific sales results, it’s safe to assume this works. Customers who buy jam are similar to those who buy books. They browse before they purchase. And considering it’s Amazon, I’m sure they tested it.

Software as a Service Providers (Customers Need Service)

If you’re selling software as a service, as in, you require a monthly fee in exchange for using your software, the magic number seems to fall between 4 and 5.

In general, when people need service, they don’t want more or less then they need. On one hand, you need to satisfy your light users, and on the other, you want to satisfy your heavy users. But in both cases, you don’t want either group to feel like they’re getting more than they need because they may cancel the service.

For example, fire up 37signals.com, which is another company that is known for its testing. They offer between 4 and 5 plans for each software service. Is it a coincidence? Probably not. Even Netflix offers between 4 and 5 levels of service.

Information Product Sellers (Customers Need Advice)

If you’re an information product seller, you should focus on one product at a time. That’s how all the big info marketers do it.

The reasoning is simple. People want to buy information from people who are experts. So, if you split up your focus, people may doubt your ability to teach them.

What if you have information in different niches? For starters, many of the top info marketers use stage names in different niches. For example, Eben Pagan uses his name in info marketing, but David DeAngelo in his dating products.

You may doubt the authenticity of this type of marketing. But the key takeaway is that you need to make sure you stand for the one thing you’re currently trying to sell. And if you’re offering various types of services, you should consider giving each of them a different home on the web.

The Bottom Line

Now I’m not telling you to eliminate products. Instead, I’m showing you how streamlining your offerings could potentially increase your sales drastically.

How do you streamline? You could create specific, specialized categories. For example, if you’re a web designer, you could offer three different options:

First, you can offer the “getting started online” package, which helps people get a domain, get hosting, and a specialized web design.

Second, you could offer “remodeling your online presence” which helps people with branding and logo design.

And Third, you could offer a “custom option” which is as per the client’s request.

What do you think? Have you had any success streamlining your products to increase your sales? Leave something in the comments.

And don’t forget.

If you want me to distill psychological research and real-life case studies into nuggets of information that you can apply to your online business, sign up for the email list.

Spread the love!

Join OVER 200,000 subscribers


Click here to sign up

Need more? Choose your path below

93 comments Leave a comment
Sandesh M

Putting up an explainer video on your website can give you more sales. As instead of going through pages of content, your visitors can easily understand what you’re selling just by watching a video that talks about your business! Get your explainer video at clickcode media.


Sandesh M

Putting up an explainer video on your website can give you more sales. As instead of going through pages of content, your visitors can easily understand what you’re selling just by watching a video that talks about your business! Get your explainer video at clickcode media.



AB testing always works and every online shopping portal should try this. You should have 2 options to major your sales growth. We in our organization also implemented this and believe me we had excellent results.

Derek, you did great job by posting this article to let people know about different aspects of increasing sales apart from marketing. Thanks for sharing.

Cheers !!


Thanks for this post. What would you say the following fall under?

1. Personal coaching. Currently I’m offering single sessions and session packs, but wondering how many options would be best for this kind of thing. I also have a few different types of coaching for different focuses.

2. I’m developing some online courses as well. How many options would be ideal for these? I like the ideas mentioned in the comments here of having two options: a basic and a premium.


I am anxious to start using the information. Thank you.


Hi Derek,

That was very informative, thanks for sharing. I had never thought of products to be narrowed down quite like that but it makes sense. Thanks for the great content even though you say content it not #1. It is up there as an important thing to keep them coming and in providing value.


Great article. How about 1 product available in many colors? If we sell a phone for example, is it better to have it in 3 or 6 colors? Any feedback on this?


Have you read Gretchen Rubin’s book, “The Happiness Project?” In it she describes people being in one of 2 groups where decision-making is concerned. ( Not sure if she coined these terms or not)

The first group is the “satisficers.” These folks have their needs in mind and make a decision when they find an option that meets their needs/requirements. Example: Goal: Buying a used car with less than 100k miles, greater than 30 mpg for around $4000. Satisficers cruise CL, find a car that meets those criteria, and buy!

The other group, termed “maximizers” don’t just want a car that meets their requirements, they want the BEST car available with under 100k miles, greater than 30 mpg, and costing less than $4,000.

I would wager that maximizers are more prone to sales confusion than the satisficers, but agree that too many choices is detrimental to sales to both groups.

Ps- I’m a maximizer; it’s exhausting!

Rebecca Jones

This is such a perfect article for me because – I sell JAM!! I also sell jellies, marmalades & chutneys and I’ve often wondered about how many varieties and flavours I should be offering.

It’s hard to say “no” when customers ask for something specific – I’ve been considering organic options and low-sugar options as well as custom flavours. Now I’m realising that trying to please everyone might just be counter-productive in terms of sales. Thank you!

I’m curious though, do you think that offering ‘custom’ products is a good marketing strategy? How about ‘seasonal’ or ‘limited edition’ products?
It’s hard to resist providing new flavours and products when you’re passionate about what you do.

Thanks so much for a great article!
Rebecca Jones


great article, very useful information on how to increase sales. i will be trying this technique for my diesel performance parts website. i will let you know how it goes. thank you for the great article!


Hi Derek – Do you believe that this strategy applies to online fashion stores? I believe in your strategy explained above but I’m not sure it applies to clothing and accessories etc. I would really appreciate your opinion on this matter.
I look forward to your reply.
Best regards

Martin Poldma

Thanks for sharing this information.

Even though it is counter-intuitive, it does make sense that people actually don’t need a million different features and a ton of choices, to make the decision, because it does really get confusing then, and eventually you won’t make any choices at all then.

This is probably the reason why Apple has also only made one phone and one tablet, even though they could create a ton of different variations to them as well, because both of these products to the job, and you don’t have to start figuring out, which one to buy, like it is the case with Samsungs, Nokias etc.

Walter R. McDaniel

Hone your negotiation skills before you go to the lot. Practice with friends and family to help you prepare for the big day. Read online to find out what sort of sales tactics dealers use. This will give you the answer to any question they ask, keeping the power in your hands.


Either way, there are limitations. I had a lot of problems with my online business. It turned out that what is simple is brilliant. You should focus on a specific strategy.

I checked the man who earns and gives full current methods that exist in the network. My sales have increased by 55%. A few days on the pages and servers and amazing effects. There’s a lot of positive reviews: http://tinyurl.com/q5cp7tw

Google changes the algorithms so you have to go with time. 2012 was different from the current year and 2014 will be different from 2013 …


Interesting. What would you recommend for an online retailer that sells one of a kind products though? Such as vintage or antiques? I would think more IS better when there is only one of it? Curious.


Do you maintain the ‘simple’ option choice throughout the stages of client interaction? For example: we sell downloadable landscape plans……On the first page there is only 2 options….frontyard or backyard…but once they get into the next step they have many to choose from…. 21 thumbnails on screen at any given time. Should I increase the size of thumbnails so that only 6 are visible per page as your example with Amazon or have I already accomplished the goal of ‘simplicity’ with the first stages 2 options?


Hey Derek, cool post.

Seems to make sense logically. The niche i am in and make my living from, i have tested both providing lots of options and fewer options. I have found that cumulatively, the more options i offer the more sales i offer.

My niche is free offers, specifically free bingo. I have tested this. Any idea why this might be? I have found that a lot of my customers bookmark my site and just come back for more all the time since its the #1 resource for free stuff in this niche.

I do “highlight” a number of featured offers by separating them from the other, which compromises of a table of 6 offers and are pegged as my “hand picked best offers”, these seem to send more sales than the rest, however if i remove all of the other ones, the browse rate on my site and overall number of sales declines.

Anyway, cool post, i really enjoy your work and how you approach it with a scientific approach. Kudos!


Derek, I am in the process of starting a company that sells sunglasses. I was trying to use this idea with our company and I get stuck because I want to offer many different colors and color combinations. Ie. Lense color and frame color. (12 to start, with many more planned to be releases in time) People tend to really enjoy the selection when surveyed. We also hope people buy multiple pair for different outfits and situations. However we are having a very few options for type of sunglasses (3 different frame styles). So I think we are following this principle with the frames, but are we going to overload people with color and color combination choices? Should we just limit it to a few colors that we think people really want or do we keep it the way it is to give people many different color options?


Thank you for applying time in order to compose “How to Increase Online Sales (The
Secret is Less is More)”. Thanks for a second time -Donna

Aradia G. of Aradia's Hand

I’ve got to tell you this makes me cringe a bit – I’m verbose to put it mildly and I have this tendency towards distraction so I’m always excited about loads of choices. But I completely see where you’re coming from and the reality of it. Making it easier is the way to go, convoluted methods usually just irritate people anyway.

That being said, I’m going to turn twelve “collections” into a much more basic “what the hell is this for” five categories (Instead of Knit & Crochet & Jewelry it’ll be Accessories, Home Decor, & Jewelry). Love the article, can’t wait to read the next four!

David Alger

Great article. The limiting can begin at that top in broad categories that way the visitor/client is segmented and doesn’t have to see the alternatives that aren’t appropriate. I played with the navigation on one of my sites once just making the three main categories available. I think the links were: about, classes and shows (for an improv theater). Each category would lead to the three more specific choices (the purchase options). It worked well. Don’t remember why I changed back to a more traditional approach.

Milan Jara

Our customers always say.. The only problem is that you have so many options.. And I am like ” I know, I know” I am not eliminating products but showing less and also going to be adding finished projects in the product categories right below the products to prove that the products work….(Cuz I just saw the video on videos)

Derek, you are genius! I love you and I hope I will start making more sales.

Craig Jones

I love your quote: “By now you know that if you give people too many options, they often choose none because they slip into “analysis paralysis.”

Danelle Karth

Very interesting article. I am working on finishing up my first ebook and I keep thinking of additional things that I would like to add. I was thinking that I could make a bunch of separate products, but I suppose I don’t want to get too many options out there. Will probably have to re-think my plans.



Thank you for the insight, one thing that worked really well for us was live chat (ClickDesk) implementation – of course we are medium size business and our issue was conversion rates. Beyond a certain level, the strategy to increase sales is a very specific issue, for which solutions are never straight forward.


We are experimenting with various bundles having a goal to streamline choices for our audience. It wil be interesting to see the analytical next month. Thanks for the insight.


Nice article, very practical especially in the case of blogs.

At one time I had ads for all kinds of stuff plastered all over my blog and while that worked for a hot second it died down real quick.

Since then I’ve redesigned my blog and gave it a much cleaner look with more of a focus on getting subscribers.

I’m happy to say that you’re advice has helped me to increase my optin rate giving me additional marketing opportunities on the back end.

Mike Cook

some good suggestions there.

Another way to boost web sales is by increasing consumer confidence in the business behind the website. This can help improve conversions and reduce abandonment rates. One way of doing this is via our Financial Trustmark – Please see website for more details.



David Hamilton

You never fail to deliver Derek. Lean and mean like my grandpa used to say! I’m been going lean with my offerings in course and coaching with 3-4 offerings max at this point. This post confirms I’m on the right track yeah!

How To Turn Your Homepage Into The Ultimate Selling Tool

[…] a minimum. Even on the homepage. If you offer too many choices, people will get shell-shocked, and slip into analysis paralysis. That’s why categorizing them into the next step is such a powerful way to drive people […]

One Tip that Makes Writing Blog Posts Super Easy | Write to Done

[…] I recently interviewed Derek Halpern of SocialTriggers.com. He’s a super successful blogger and most of his blog posts follow a certain structure:  he focuses on one actionable topic. Here is an example: How to Increase Online Sales by 600%. […]


What a great article. Giving very specific information or breaking down into details seems the right way to help customers needs. Nowadays, online shopping business spreads out not only nation wide as well as the entire world. Details and right information of any merchandise besides qualities certainly will attract people. This article makes great sense involving a psychology theory. Could not agree more!

Tram Tran

1. I love the title. Awesome work grabbing my attention
2. This reminds me of the KFC case study. They successfully reduced their menu from 100 dishes to just a few( as we often see today) and saved themselves from the edge of bankruptcy. Less is always more for shooo
3. Three points are always better than 2 😉


I’m definitely trying to sell as small as possible online. People tend to focus more on a few specific products than get confused and stressed with all the offers and choices. Selling shirts/apparel is hard work and so far limiting the options is working.

Follow up question Derek,

How if you have multiple products perhaps more than 15, what kind of test would you suggest? Does this trick still work or would you suggest to rotate the products on the homepage?


Very similar to how Apple does it. Releases a limited amount of options for laptops, ipod, desktops, even speakers. I much prefer to shop Apple for that reason than wade through endless PC options. Not to mention the features, etc, etc.

This also confirms my suspicions about an Etsy store I’m launching. Everyone claims mass inventory is better. But my gut tells me a set, limited amount of quality options is better.


I sell over 100 different weight vests. They vary in size, shape, weight, and quality. Like shoes, my vests fill a particular need. Would you suggest offering my main sellers on the shop page and the other options linked on the side or eliminating the options from my site altogether?

Sandy Shore

Too much choice can, often times, create mental turbulence. This turbulence – or distraction – impairs our ability to establish the associations we need to make decisions. It’s kind of like trying to focus on a distant point looking through a pair of binoculars while standing up in a small boat that is bouncing around in the water. We end up taking in a lot more than the object we are searching for. Too many options can cause us to lose sight of our traditional decision criteria (those we feel comfortable with). This creates uncertainty and can often lead to a ‘no decision’ decision, or deferral of a decision. ‘Less is Best’ is a good place to start when evaluating a marketing strategy.

Christopher Knopick

Where would a site that does primarily affiliate marketing, where you’re trying to get people to click on affiliate links to things you promote, fall? I can understand the less is more and focusing your message but would that fall under 1 or more than that?

Vp Ahmed

Nice and very effective article

Here’s How Many Categories Your Blog Should Have (Use More At Your Own Risk)

[…] you ever heard of the Draeger Jam Study by Sheena […]



This is an interesting article and very good advice that I will follow. I sell real estate and I find that I get buyers to select a house faster when I show them only 3-5 versus givning them a list of 50 houses to choose from.

The key is getting them to define what they want so that the choices narrow down to 3-5 houses

Craig Wilson

Very good article and timely to boot! I’m in the middle of creating a “resources manual” of SEO, video marketing, traffic sources to sell. I’ve had this inner struggle to OVER deliver (I’ve had this affliction for a long time 🙂 I ALWAYS want people to know that I deliver quality and not junk….IE. they get more than their moneys worth.That said, I know I add too many things that could lead to indecision for the reader and I want to avoid that. I might consider breaking up my info product in parts #1,#2 and 3…not sure yet, but this gives me food for thought. Nice post


Derek, I’m sure you missed my previous comment by mistake. I’d still love to have your inputs to my query. Thanks 🙂


Thank you for this insightful article about less is more and will think more on how it relates to my own services.

Bob Shekhar

This is really an very simple but yet most effective article. The example are almost perfect.

I in my Sales Training seminar use to advice to go narrow while promoting and product but not yet tested or tried the same advice of mine Online.

Its a good reminder to link the experience. Thanks

Rainbow Zebra

Great pieces of advice in this article. We currently offer 6 ‘featured products’ on the home page but then have an extra set on the left hand side in smaller boxes. It seems to work at the moment but will definitely remember these tips for the future!

Here’s How to Plug 3 Website “Leaks” that Cost You Valuable Subscribers

[…] (The less options you give people, the more likely they’re going to take action because they won’t be overwhelmed). […]

The Two-Step Formula to Building a Thriving Online Business

[…] Don’t miss out on “How to Get 1,000% More Sales Online” […]

Google Panda Update: Content + Design = Usable, trustworthy websites

[…] of Derek’s tips include: Cluttered, busy layouts (Less options, higher conversions) Problems (See the header removal test) Boring web design (Yes, this one is aesthetic) Slow load […]

The “Content is King” Myth Debunked

[…] Flags” of Web Design1. Clever site names (clever is confusing)2. Cluttered, busy layouts(Less options, higher conversions)3. Navigation Problems(See the header removal test)4. Boring web design(Yes, this one is […]

Dawson Van Pelt

This is a great article! It definitely makes perfect sense that to many options would make the buyers run. But, my apparel company’s website has about 30 options and it still seems sparse. I couldn’t imagine only offering 6 shirt options at a time. I’m struggling with online sales though. So, it might be worth a try.
Thanks everyone and great article!


during the last 10 years selling online is unquestionably one of the hottest topics for businesses of all types and regarding product type its all the more competitive. The point about Amazon showing at least 6 products is good but amazon are far more clever these days and use cookies to hold browsing info to show related product types, amazon really go to town and keep you hooked in, at least thats my online shopping experience.

some of the ecommerce sites we have developed are limited in product ranges so they struggle to a) get lots of traffic and b) don’t have many products to show off and it’s difficult to break through this barrier if buying in more stock is a problem. Drop shipping can overcome this problem as it allows a store owner to display more products than they hold but relying on 3rd party suppliers can be a customer service headache.

It’s such a tricky subject to cover but your article is really very useful and covers some fundamental points about online sales thank you.

Rick Henderson

I can really get into this article, I’m suffering from choice overload by trying to figure out which blogging advice I should follow! 🙂 That and being unable to really pick a product/niche and stick with it.


    Hi Rick,

    My advice is if other people are making money in the nich, theres no need to change to a different nich. just imporve what your doing.

    At the end of Scientific Advertising, Claud Hopkins tells the story of the massive river and the tiny water wheel.

    How most advertising is like the tiny water wheel, its not the river(market) thats the problem but the ineffectiveness of the advertising.

    He goes on to say something like excellent advertising is like a dam and underwater turbines. same river, much more power generation.

    so pick a nich and dig in is my advice.

    Also you want to build a following, if your in 6 niches you will have 6 followings who all want different stuff. that’s 6 times as much work to serve them.

    So my advice is pick a nich and stick with it until you have an underwater turbine system in that nich market. Wether it takes 6 months, a year, or 3 years.

    as Ken Mccarthy says, “one business at a time”


I have an online store with millions of products. This post made me think, may be I only need to concentrate on few items that I am using them myself, and I know they are a good products.

Thanks, Derek. Now I know that I have to sign up for your newsletter. 🙂

Online Marketing and Sales Resource for Lawyers: SocialTriggers.com

[…] sales strategies at socialtriggers.com, I truly believe the information there is vital to your online marketing strategy and I suggest subscribing so you don’t miss a […]


Thanks for the insight Derek. I’m one of those who thought more is better. I’ll have to go back to the drawing board on offering to many choices. My problem is that I want to design many products and offering 3-6 choices won’t satisfy my urge to keep designing. Do you think having multiple sites, selling similar products, keeping the product choices between three and six would be more successful than one mega site?

Marlene Hielema

Wow this is great to know as I’m one of those people who does many things, thinking I was catching every type of client possible. I shall remove some things from my list of offerings and concentrate on my best and favorite three and within those categories pare down the choices as well. I stress about how I’m going to fulfill everyone’s needs, and now the pressure is off! Time for a few of my own experiments using this research.

In my experience, people will still ask you if I you such-and-such, (wedding photography in my case, which I don’t do) because they know, like and trust you. So if that happens and you want the work, you will still likely get it from existing clients.

Blog Building For Your E-commerce Site - Why It's Different But Not — The Entrepreneurial Daddy

[…] owners would realize the almost super hero powers of having even a simple blog and how they could increase the amount and the quality of sales and […]


Very interesting and entertaining analysis. We all assume more is better, but I would agree with the findings. I never realized how choice overload could cause reduced sales. When there is less to chose from, you tend to get yourself invested in one of the choices and more engagement means more conversions.

    Craig Wilson

    I whole heartedly agree with this…I believe this too! Say a guy wants to buy a car and the lot has only 5 models…The name of the lot is top of the line motors…Which implies the cars are the best of their kind.

    When faced with less options you assume that these are narrowed down the the best there possibly is so the choices are easier. Now if this same lot had 25 cars, subliminally your mind is thinking now wait a minute, I have learned that you can’t have 25 “best” cars…only a few or ONE is “best”.

    We learn this in grade school especially with sports. Either this dodgeball team or the other is “best”. Amazon can get away with 1,000’s of choices, but small time info marketers need to stick with the 4 to 6 options choice I really think…My 2 cents

May Busch

Excellent article. Here is another data point on the “right” number of ideas to put in front of clients: I understand that McKinsey, a leading strategy consulting firm (so their product is insight and advice), advocates that presentation slides have either one or three bullet points.

The interesting takeaways for me were: (1) less is more (as others have said), and (2) these very smart, experienced people say if you are making more than one point, then three points are better than two — more evidence that groupings of three seem to resonate with the human brain.

Dan Williams

With 3,000 + messages coming in a day – our prospects are numb. Less is better, much better.

Naomi Niles

I read about that study and thought it was interesting too.

I think it also depends on how complex your offerings are. If you have different offers with just one variation between each, then you could probably get away with offering more options. For example, if you are offering jams and the only difference between one and the other is the flavor, but the price and all other variables are the same, then you could get away with offering more flavors.

But, if each option is complex in itself, then you’d want to limit your numbers. That’s one of the main reasons we decided to only present one design concept when we take on a new web design concept. I detail it more in my blog post here: http://intuitivedesigns.net/blog/post/one-concept, but basically, we figured out that when we would present more than one concept, clients would get overwhelmed and start mixing and matching and creating a “frankenstein” design.

I think this has a lot to do with how many variables are involved. From one design to another, you have a large number of variables in the first place (colors, typography, layout, elements, style treatments, etc.) and then adding a whole other choice on to that multiplies the number of choices a person feels compelled to make.


    The funny thing is, the sales went up when options were limited in the jam study. So, I’m thinking that you should limit your options even if the variations are quite small. But then again, people should always test the results before they take anything as fact.

    Also, Naomi, I know I owe you an e-mail response. Don’t think I ignored your quote 😀

      Naomi Niles

      “So, I’m thinking that you should limit your options even if the variations are quite small.”

      That’s true. I was just thinking that you might be able to get away with offering near the top amount of 6 rather than 2 or 3 or whatever. But yeah, the more you can narrow down your options all around, the better. Simplicity is a good thing.

      No worries on the email response. I wasn’t worried about it at all. I know we’re all busy. 🙂

Nicholas Z. Cardot

Interesting study. Years ago, two brothers, Dick and Maurice, made their mark in the California landscape by offering a very limited menu with high quality and quickly served food. Years later we see the results of that business model. The McDonald brothers have transformed their business into a household name throughout the entire world.

Less is more. Great analysis of this concept. I enjoyed it.

Nick Donnelly

Interesting article

Sorry to be picky its ‘Fewer’ Articles – not Less.

    Nicholas Z. Cardot

    Your use of the word ‘its’ should have an apostrophe as it’s being used as a conjunction and is not being used in its possessive form. I just thought I should mention that since we’re on the topic of grammar.


      Nothing to do with me, but in my opinion the subjects of sales, marketing and persuasion are not just the domain of the grammaticaly correct. I would like to think that anyone can comment here, regardless of whether or not they press the keys of their keyboard in the right order.

      I sincerely hope that no-one has been put off posting their valued opinions here for fear of mistyping a word or leave punctuation out.


    Thanks. I fixed it.

Here Are Some New Articles I Wrote Recently

[…] There’s a way for you to increase your online sales by 1,000%. And don’t worry, you won’t have to do anything shady or participate in any shenanigans. Click to learn how to get 1000% more sales online. […]

Online Sales: 3 Social Psychology Books You Should Buy

[…] This wonderful book by Sheena Iyengar came out in March 2010. In it, you’ll discover how and why people make choices in business, political, and social settings. If you’re an online marketer armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to construct better sales page that sell and convert like crazy. If you want a preview, check out my previous blog post about online sales. […]

Andy Fogarty

Could not agree more.

This is definitely in my top 3 that I’m always telling clients. In my world, the online shopping cart world, there seems to being a growing tendency to offer a ton of options in hopes to 1-up, or should I 10-up, the competition. Shoppers, like you mentioned, like to browse and if there’s too many choices they just browse right on by and out the virtual door.

Simplicity almost always wins in the ecommerce world.

Great post!

Mermaid's Purse

Interesting….this really comes home to roost for me. My husband has always sent me off to wade through the vast selections of everything on the market. Bring back (choose) 3 or 4 of the best or what I like…then we’ll decide together. As far as I was concerned I always won out because I did the selecting. However….I was under the impression this is a guy syndrome. Do you have stats on jewelry? Does this still hold true? Women seem to endlessly want more to choose from. This Mermaid would love to know if this is more gender oriented than shopper oriented.

Fair Winds and Calm Seas,
Deborah Leon


    I don’t believe it’s gender related. Its related to simplicity. When you provide simple offerings, there’s less chance that your customers will be confused. And as they say, confused consumers don’t buy.

    With regard to jewelry, I don’t have any specific research examples. However, I do think jewelry companies could benefit from simplifying what they offer people. Especially online.

    For example, instead of barraging people with 30-40 different items to browse, you can simplify choices by making recommendations to your customers. Or, you could test how many products people often look at before a purchase. Do you know what I’m saying?

DJ Morris

Very useful information and sharing the Saturday Jam test made a lot of sense, especially when it is proven and tested without being someones opinion.


    That’s the plan over here. Everything I suggest, will either have research to back it up, or real-life case studies. I don’t want any platitudes or broad generalizations here.


      Derek, this is an awesome blog. This is my first comment here, although I’m hooked and reading just about every post of yours.

      Anyway, back to the topic… How do you go about finding proof (like the Saturday Jam experiment) to back your advice up? I’d love to know this one thing. I think this is your biggest advantage, and it’d be awesome to hold in my (currently small) arsenal and use it.

      Thanks 🙂


        Try reading a current textbook on Social Psychology or Consumer Behavior (online versions are almost always available and can often be purchased or rented one chapter at a time) and their accompanying or related websites. You’re more likely to find a higher concentration of actual research studies there that you can follow up with a google search for practical applications than you will going straight to blogs or websites. David Meyer is best.

        Derek Halpern

        What do you mean “how do I find the proof?”

        I read nothing but non-fiction books and scholarly journals.

        There’s no secret… just read.


          Oh ok, thanks. 🙂

          I was wondering if you use a source like MarketingExperiments(dot)com or something to find relevant real-world examples.

Maren Kate

Great post, just found this blog & I’m hooked 🙂 I agree that 6 is FAR better than 24… I’d almost say 3 🙂


    I think 3 works in a lot of cases. It lets you hit the luxury, middle, and economy priced markets all at once. However, sometimes you need a little bit more customization.

Link Journeys for March 20, 2010 - Remarkablogger

[…] How to Get 1,000% More Sales Online – Subscribing to Derek’s blog is like having a secret weapon. Posts like this one is why. […]

Joshua Guffey

I love how you put this idea into the context of different market situations. One size fits all solutions are generally not as effective (if at all) as could be.

I too have found that too many options confuses buyers and leads to lost sales. Someone once said “a confused mind doesn’t buy” and I’ve found this to be very wise advice. Sometimes we can become over zealous and actually drive our buyers away in our well intended efforts to offer a great degree of options.

I’m wondering now if anyone can think of instances wherein having a multitude of options DOES work well. Perhaps in the case of Baskjn Robbins it works because their whole marketing and brand image is designed around this idea of many options.

I still imagine though from my own experience that I’m more inclined to visit an ice cream shop whose branding showcases the high quality of their existing flavors. After all, I’m not going to eat them all today.

More thoughts on this awesome topic?


    Having a multitude of options works for destinations. For example, think about a Chinese restaurant. It works there because people tend to know what they want.

    I believe Baskin Robins is the same case. People go there knowing that they want to try several flavors of ice cream.

    The funny thing is, Draeger’s supermarket, the upscale grocery store where the study was conducted, is known for having tons of different things (200 types of mustard for example). And even though it was known for that, less still meant more.



      I’ve been teaching the concept of choice overload in Social Psychology courses for years. I always gave my students the example of shopping at Aldi, where I can get in and out with a list in 20 minutes, vs. Walmart or Woodman’s (similar to Draeger’s), where you’ll find me two hours in staring at the plethora of peanut butter options. The end result: I HATE grocery shopping and simply avoid it at all costs, sending my 17-year-old, whenever I can convince him to go instead.

      This concept is universal and applies in every industry because it has to do with human nature (I devote almost an entire chapter of a book to how choice overload impacts the hiring process). So, if you find yourself saying, “but my customers aren’t like that…they tell me they want a multitude of different things,” remember that, no matter what product or service you offer, what you’re really offering (and what your customers are really asking for) is a solution to their problem. When your customers or audience are specifically describing what they want you to produce or provide, you’re missing the mark somewhere, or failing to communicate that you truly understand them or their problem. It’s not the customer’s job to make the connection between how what you do/offer solves the problem they are struggling with.

Sarah Merion

Great article, Derek! I love the case studies and completely agree. In my personal life I’ve found that with less, it is easier to make choices. When inundated with too many options, it’s easier to forgo whatever it is I want instead of rifling through all the factors in the decision.

uberVU - social comments

Social comments and analytics for this post…

This post was mentioned on Twitter by derekhalpern: How to Get 1,000% More Sales Online – http://bit.ly/dglFg9

Molly Gordon, Self-Employment Coach

Nice job. I especially appreciate the specific examples.

Two thoughts.

Information marketers may do better when they offer two levels of the same product. Sean D’Souza of psychotactics.com calls this the Yes and Yes strategy. By offering people basic and premium options that are close together in price, you give them a way to choose without confusing them.

Standing for a single product is closely related to standing for a highly specific niche. The key to both, IMHO, is to know your just-right clients so well that you can quite accurately name and respond to their biggest need.


    I think two similar products could work. I know when John Carlton launched his simple writing system, he had two options. The first option was expensive that included personal interaction, and the other was a “home-study course,” which didn’t have the personal time, but it was like half the price.

      Mel the Dietitian

      First, great site Derek.

      It seems you’ve implemented the selective options on this site, too. Something I should maybe look at as my bounce rate can be quite poor.

      I’d love you to elaborate on this aspect brought up by Molly. Do you think offering a product at $67 and a premium version at $97, is better than just having one option? I knowing testing is necessary for concrete numbers, but if you’ve tested it or have any studies I’d be very interested.

Leave a comment