Some people are used to living with fewer choices. In other countries, if a person was shopping for coffee, there was one brand to buy. And that brand came in just one variety. Consumers didn't check to see which was the cheapest per ounce or had a coupon or how the best promise of aroma and flavor. They just put the coffee in the cart was done with it.
In contrast, the American consumer can now shop for a variety of coffee in the local grocery store, and consumers feel duty bound to figure out which represents the best deal in the best product that week. You can imagine them figuring out which one is on sale, whether there is a promotional coupon code online somewhere for another brand, and take into account the large size available when ordering in bulk. In the end, the consumer has taken a good amount of time to calculate which one is a better deal. This type of shopping can be exhaustive. The choices that take seconds can drag out the minutes of the popular puzzle over the variations.
The process is multiplied exponentially when the consumer wants to buy something online. If they go to say Amazon with something of mind, they feel obligated to find other sites to compare prices and choices. Inevitably, there are bad websites that come up in search that make them wonder if the product is available. Presumably, the shopper opens up another browser window and searches long and hard for other ecommerce websites that carry similar items.
Experts call a choice overload or the Paradox of choice. Even though we are all programmed to think that having more options is always better, it doesn't seem to always be the case. Much of the research is focused on things such as that huge list of investment options that employers are presented with when they opt to take advantage of the company's 401(k) retirement plan. Unfortunately, when presented with cream of choices, many workers opt not to decide and miss out on a valuable opportunity to save money for the future. That's a little more important than my wasting time and shopping for coffee.
Niche comparison shopping sites can cut down on the time researching stores for deals, variety, and related items. Additionally, product review sites combined with shopping choices make it even more convenient because they may point to the best choice in their reviews. These online websites build their reputation as experts in the specific field. Consumers find that comparison shopping and product reviews provide the consensus and social proof necessary to make a purchase decision. After all it's crucial to know that a customer from West Virginia found the new African bean coffee to be a great choice and which store offers the best coupon code.