How Limiting Choices Can Improve the Ecommerce Buying Experience

In the world of ecommerce, offering a seemingly endless array of choices to buyers has been a common strategy to attract and retain customers. However, recent studies have shown that too many choices can actually harm the ecommerce buying experience. In fact, limiting choices can often lead to a more positive and satisfying customer experience. In this article, we will explore why this is the case and provide references to three academic studies that support this claim.

The Paradox of Choice

The idea that having more choices leads to increased happiness and satisfaction has been challenged by the paradox of choice theory. This theory suggests that while having a variety of options may seem appealing, it can actually lead to anxiety, indecision, and dissatisfaction. When faced with too many choices, customers may feel overwhelmed and find it difficult to make a decision. This can result in them abandoning the purchase altogether or feeling regretful about the choice they made.

Three Studies Supporting the Limiting of Choices

  1. In a study conducted by Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper, they set up a tasting booth in a gourmet food store with either six or 24 flavors of jam. They found that although more customers were attracted to the booth with 24 flavors, only 3% of them made a purchase. Meanwhile, 30% of those who visited the booth with only six flavors made a purchase. This suggests that too many choices can lead to decision paralysis and a decrease in sales.
  2. A study by Columbia University and Stanford University researchers found that when consumers were given the option to customize a product, they were less satisfied with their purchase than those who were given a limited set of pre-set options. The study showed that having too many choices can lead to analysis paralysis and lower satisfaction with the final decision.
  3. In a study by psychologists Barry Schwartz and Andrew Ward, they found that employees who were given a limited set of retirement plans to choose from were more satisfied with their decision than those who were given a wider range of options. Additionally, those who had more choices were more likely to second-guess their decision and feel regretful.

In conclusion, offering too many choices can have a negative impact on the ecommerce buying experience. Customers may feel overwhelmed, experience analysis paralysis, and make less satisfying choices. By limiting choices, businesses can help customers make decisions more easily and ultimately create a more positive buying experience.

What can be done? can help e-commerce businesses limit choices for customers. Our Shopify app allows businesses to create intelligent product quizzes that guide customers through a series of questions to identify their needs and preferences.

Based on the customer's answers, the app suggests a limited set of products that best match their needs, reducing the amount of choices the customer has to make. This can lead to a more positive buying experience for the customer and ultimately boost sales for the business.


  • Iyengar, S. S., & Lepper, M. R. (2000). When choice is demotivating: Can one desire too much of a good thing? Journal of personality and social psychology, 79(6), 995–1006.
  • Scheibehenne, B., Greifeneder, R., & Todd, P. M. (2010). Can There Ever Be Too Many Options? A Meta-Analytic Review of Choice Overload. Journal of Consumer Research, 37(3), 409–425.
  • Schwartz, B., & Ward, A. (2004). Doing better but feeling worse: The paradox of choice. In E. Diener & D. R. Rahtz (Eds.), Advances in well-being: Research, theory and application (pp. 171–191). DEF Publishers.

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