Using university research, I’m going to show you these important tips to test on an ecommerce website:

  • The exact number of products to have on a category page
  • Why you should not just have one product
  • This specific range of buying options will give you a conversion rate boost

If you sell one product, you may have a 9% conversion rate. If you sell two similar products, one of your products may now sell at 32%.

The study was conducted by having research participants answer this survey about a DVD player:

9% chose “I would buy the Sony DVD player.”
91% chose “I would delay the decision to look for more options.”

Then, this survey was presented to another group:

32% chose “I would buy the Sony DVD player.”
34% chose “I would buy the Philips DVD player.”
34% chose “I would delay the decision to look for more options.”

Not only did the Sony decision more than triple, a DVD decision went up by 7 times! Adding a second option can be quite helpful for encouraging a decision.

Should you add more than 2 options?

If having more options works so well, what about adding 10 or even 50 options? People love choices, but they will become unable to decide at a certain number. Analysis paralysis becomes very common in this situation — see proof in this fruit jam study.

This next study allowed grocery shoppers to see and sample 24 different jams. Then, at a different time, grocery shoppers were allowed to see and sample 6 different jams.

Results for 24 different jams
60% of people stopped at the booth.
3% of people bought jam.

Results for 6 different jams
40% of people stopped at the booth.
30% of people bought jam.

More jams caused people to stop and sample. Therefore, people desire more choice. When choice is minimized less people think they will find what they want, but it does make their decision much easier.

Perhaps, the angle that should be taken, regarding DVD player sales, is: “Answer 3 questions about what type of DVD player would work best for you and we’ll search 133 popular devices. But we will show the top 2, best value DVD players for your situation.”

MarketingExperiments then took this route with an ecommerce category page:

categorypageThey placed 3 drop down boxes to help narrow down the results — instead of links to several options. This gained 20% more conversions by helping the consumer narrow the results.

In summary, more options bring in more interest, but too many options can stop someone from buying. 2 or 6 choices can bring in more sales than 1 or 40 respectively.

Rule of thumbs:

  1. Have many options to gain more interest, but narrow down the results so the consumer can decide.
  2. Have 2-6 final options so the consumer feels confident in his/her decision.



Derek Halpern mentioned this DVD player research recently. The DVD player study was titled, “Single-Option Aversion” by DANIEL MOCHON.

Second study. “When Choice is Demotivating” by Iyengar and Lepper.

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