It was Sears, that first got it right when it came to presenting product options. They had “good” “better” and “best” and that was all you needed to make up your mind.
I recently went to Sony’s site to look at 37″ flat screen televisions- so that I could figure out which one was right for me- and I came back more confused than when I started. This is bad news for any marketer, because if it’s not clear what you are selling, the customer will find someone else quite literally at the touch of a few keys.
There are some fundamental things that go into making a buying decision- and just being part of the evoked set these days is a major accomplishment. Remember that your brand lives outside the world you control, so you have to make it really easy for people to talk about your products. Need an example: look at Amazon.com. So many people go there for reviews before going to the “professionals” to make their buying decisions- so it behooves you to have your products there if possible.
I don’t know how many sites I’ve been to where it’s impossible just to link to a single product info page- very annoying for anyone who wants to write about the widget they just bought and love. Make sure you make it easy for social media to link back- and even better, give them the opportunity to build links on your site back to theirs- it’s called sharing the love.
Complex product matrices make sense to your brand managers, but often leave the consumer scratching their head. Think it’s just in high-tech? Nope, same problem with a local restaurant. They had a great brand, the name of the place- but as they grew, they added a coffee shop/cafe (first brand extension) then a “Jazz room” - second brand extension- and before long, you needed a tutor just to decide where to sit and what to eat. Keep it simple, stupid still applies.
If you need yet another example, go compare Dell.com and Apple.com to try to pick a laptop. Guess which one makes ease of buying a priority? You don’t even have to go to know the answer. Simplicity in product offerings and clear differentiation is more important than ever. Make sure you don’t over think your offering, because your customer won’t.