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Episode 112 - Help Your Customers Make Decisions

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Hey, Scott Austin here.

In this episode, I'm going to do something new. And that is to let you in a conversation I had with a client. Now this conversation is one-way. It's a recording that I created for a client and sent to them as background for a conversation we had scheduled. I do this alot as I find it to be an effective way to communicate my thoughts and opinions as background for discussions. Now this recording was audio and video. So if you are listening to the audio-only version of this, there's a link in the show notes to the video. Though, if you are driving in your car, I think you'll find the audio interesting enough.

Now I'm sharing this with you for two of reasons.

  1. This is how I work with my clients. You'll notice that this communication is quite frank and rough around the edges. If that style works for you, I may be the agency that can you help you take your Shopify business to the next level.
  2. I care alot about taking Shopify stores that simply list out all of their products and turning them into decision-making engines for the store's customers. And after looking at this unscripted video I made for a client, I think its one of my better tutorials on the topic. So I want to share with you.

Now before we move onto the recording. Here's a disclaimer. The store in this video is Fine Linen and Bath. And what you can't tell from the recording is that Fine Linen and Bath's website is already a fantastic decision making engine. They have a very well-thought out navigation structure. Collection pages have filters that leverage the highly structed taxonomy that the store has defined and implemented across a product catalog in the 10s of thousands. And the product pages do a great job in allowing the customer to quickly understand their options and make decisions in what can be a very confusing space with dozens of color choices and dozens of size options for a single product. And the topic of the recording is a single page on the site. So if the feedback sounds super-critical or harsh, it's because this store's staff and I have been working together for years and we've built-up trust. So they know, or at least I hope they know, that I'm being overly critical for the purpose of improving the customer experience. I want to help them bring the buyer's guide in question up to the level of the rest of the store.

OK, onto the recording.

This feedback or this video is gonna be a little bit broader than the thing we're talking about, which was icons, right? This is our Abyss Buyers guide. So the purpose of this, right, is to help somebody pick the right towel out of all the freaking different abyss towels that they have, right? So I don't know if this is all of them. Let's just assume 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. So there's eight different towels. That's a lot of information for a human being to keep in their head at one time, right? And there, you know, studies show three, five, whatever, you know, eight's a lot of things to consider in parallel. And then, you know, we talk about, hey, it's, you know, made in Portugal from a hundred percent Giza, extra long staple Egyptian cotton. Well, guess what? The next one has the exact same thing, and the next one has the exact same thing. So this doesn't help me make a decision. Taking a step back, this page is guilty of what many websites do, and that is list all the information about a product. That is Not what this page should do. This page should only highlight the Differences between These products, right? And you
Actually in the Beginning, not you personally, right? But this page actually says, All abyss Towels are made in Portugal. No need to repeat that on every single one of these. So what we want to be doing, like, and I, I mean this
Literally, and it's gonna, Most, most stores have a hard time with what I'm about to say, right? Which is all of this Text needs To be consolidated down to one,
Maybe two, preferably One line, not sentenced, one line. All of that down To One line. I, I'm just gonna keep saying this, sending Over and over again, most stores Don't help their customers make a decision. So what this, what, what This is here, right? For Each one of these is a whole bunch of information. Like, you know, what sizes it's available in, right? You know what it matches. Like, it's not telling me why should buy this one. Why should I buy the superpower pile over the twill? Why should I buy the Sato? Whoever we say that one, right? You know, and, and I'm, I'm gonna guess here right now, right? This is the best towel you want, the best you get this. And I remember the conversation we had about this one time we being probably married, Tom and I way back when, and I think if I remember correctly, Tom doesn't like heavyweight towels and he prefers lightweight ones. Or maybe it was Mary, I forget which one,

So then, oh, well it's, it's not as easy as if you want the best. There's also some people like lightweight and all that kind of stuff. And every little factually true statement that you have to add in makes it harder for people to make a decision, right? If you just say the super pile is the best towel available, period, people are gonna buy it because they want the best done. Now, if you say, you know, maybe the twill is a lightweight alternative, you know, it's quick drying. Why do people want quick drying, right? I actually don't think they care about, well, maybe shorter drying time doesn't mean in the dryer. I just assumed that was in the dryer. 'cause Next to machine wash, why would people like a, a lightweight towel? Because I, that's the question I'm getting to answer here. All outta the crap crap I would get rid of.

And like, this is the lightweight option to the abyss super pile for people who want quick drying towels for this type of scenario. And I dunno what those scenarios are. Maybe if you have a lot of kids I dunno if people reuse towels or not, whatever. Now maybe people get the waffle just 'cause it's a fun pattern, right? So, you know, this towel, you know, I would say this is a fun pattern. You know, if this is the waffle alternative, you know, which, you know, because people like the look of it on the rack, or maybe it dries differently. I don't know what's the, what's the one sentence summary for this puppy? And the next thing I'm gonna say is if there isn't really a difference, you don't have to talk about it. So, and I'm, I'm just gonna make an assumption here. Maybe this Bob Atel is basically identical to your customers, to the tool bath towel.

I dunno if it is or not. Let's just assume it is. And the difference might be some whatever thing that is. That's three 50 G s m. So this is 500 G s m. It's quite possible you don't have to mention every single a abyss bath towel on your buyer's guide. Remember, eight is way too many. If you could say, you know, abyss offers eight different towels and here's our top four picks for these reasons, that's a great thing to do. Super twill. I think that's a pattern thing. You know, green, I don't know if that's, I don't mix these green if they're still made of cotton, not bamboo. So I, you know, what's the difference? Why, why would I pick this over the other ones? Same thing with Montana. It looks like a herringbone pattern. These, I have no idea why people would pick them, but that's the hard part is like taking these eight towels.

So you know, you've got this abyss, you got eight different towels to choose from. How do you just cut that list in half to start with? And what are the four you recommend? And right? So lemme show you what that looks like in execution. So here, these guys sell these cold therapy machines and there's eight of them. What we saw, you know, in looking at Hotjar recordings is people, and they have lots and lots of log articles about how to, you know, pick the right. And it's funny 'cause it'll say, you know, pick the right cold therapy solution for you. It never actually, and this is from the thing I'm about to show you here, we're actually starting to make recommendations. But what we saw in the videos and the older, older videos, you know, is, is cold therapy good for hip arthritis? And it would talk about all the different machines, right?

Yeah. So here it says, Hey, you can get the wave, you can get the DonJoy iceman, you can get the Kodiak. So it talks about the different machines, but it didn't make a recommendation. So then we kept this concept of staff pick. So this is a newer thing we added to this Polar article which says, Hey, the staff pick for hip is Bragg Polar Care, right? So what we did, 'cause all the content said, here's your six options or eight options, right? And you know, for the hip, maybe there's only three that had a hip pad. So there's only three options, but it didn't say which one that recommended. So then we came up with the idea of staff picks. What we say is, if you have a knee problem, get this, this one. If you've got a shoulder problem, get this one. If you've got a hip problem, get this one.

If you've got ankle, get this one. And then you'll notice when we go into the the product, we even say that it's the staff pick for ankle. And then if we, you know, search by body area and go to ankle, we show all the products and options they have. But at the bottom we say, here's the staff pick. Now, I'm not saying you have to have a staff pick for the abyss towels, but what I am saying is what we realized on these pages was that we weren't helping people make a decision. So this page before, you know, before we put this little staff pick thing down here, just had a whole bunch of products and we didn't help them make a decision. And you know, we also had the guides. And if you went into the guides, they didn't help you make decisions either, it just showed you all the different ones.

So here's the, the wave. So this one, they've refined since we came with this idea of staff picks and it just talks about the wave. So what we started doing is instead of throwing people all their options from the product catalog, we started recommending which option to use for which scenario. Now, for you, for this buyer's guide, I, my recommendation, I'm, I'm sorry this, this video's getting kind of long, but I get kind of passionate about this and, and this is what I think separates expert, you know, sites, you know sites that are doing really well from what everybody else does, right? Everybody lists their products. Very few people help people make a decision, right? So the buyer's guide for abyss towels should say, Hey, you know, there's eight different towels, you know, click here to see them all, but here's our recommendations for four common scenarios, right?
Scenario number one is you just want the best or the pluses or the most luxurious whatever. Come up with those four buckets. You know, maybe it's the heavyweight one, the lightweight one, a cool pattern and a fun whatever, what, whatever those scenarios are. And help people, you know, put themselves inside of one of these buckets, right? Because what this is, this is a list of product specs. What it isn't is a list of personality or home specs. So, you know, for the super luxurious house you get, you know, you get this product. I can't read this and say, oh that's me 'cause this is about the towel. You want to turn it around and make it about the customer. And that's what we did here. Instead of talking about the specs for the different products, we just did it as simple as, hey, if you have a knee problem, you get knee surgery, get this one.

People are like, oh, I'm getting knee surgery. Oh, I go get this one. Easy to do, right? 'cause We're making a recommendation now under knee, just show you how many, you know, products we have under knee, you know, and some of these are braces and some of these are cold therapy machines, right? But you got all these different choices underneath. But like, hey, boom, there you go. You need cold therapy. Get this one. So instead of that, having go in and out of all these product pages, read all these specs, which really don't help them make decisions, I do not know what G s M is as the average customer yet. We talk about G S M all the time, right? Well, what does G s M mean? And that's, you know, you guys were saying super absorption and extra softness. And this is where I came with the icon idea in the beginning was, you know, maybe you have a a one line description here that you know, this towel is best for, blah, blah, blah scenario.

And then you have a few icons for blah, blah, blah scenario. And that could be, you know, s super rich, thick, luxurious feel. How do you turn that into an icon, right? And we'll figure out a way to do that. Or fast drying. How do, how do we turn that into an icon? So, you know, you got words and then you also have images and there's just one line of text and two icons. Think about that as your north star on what we're trying to do with this page. How would you go about doing that? Thinking about that? That's hard, right? Totally hard. But if you do that hard work, then you're making it easy for your customers. 'cause Right now this page is relatively easy for you to build and really hard for the customer to make a decision. And you want to turn that around.

You wanna come up with a hard page for you to build. And the hard part is coming up with just one line of text and two icons. If that's all you're allowed to do, no more than that, that's hard, right? Making this page have less text on it is the hard part. It's easy to come up with the full product specs, but that's really not helpful because, you know, I got eight of these and I gotta read bullet point by bullet point to try to understand the differences way too much work for people. And it might just be as simple as, you know, the weight as an icon, heavyweight, medium, weight, lightweight. Or maybe it's, you know, instead of heavyweight that's, you know, rich and luxurious feel and lightweight is the icon is quick drying, right? Right? So we're taking it beyond the weight and actually explaining the benefits of those weights and then, you know, a pattern thing or, or whatever.

But hopefully that makes sense on why I think that most buyers guides absolutely suck. And honestly, this page is a great example of it. This does not help people make a decision at all. But if you do a little bit of work and that work is reducing the information on this page, right? And literally, you know, this might be your differences, right? If you just had that, that might be what we're talking about. And then like an icon or two, you know, kind of stuff. But even less. 'cause What's the difference between this lightweight and absorbent one and this lightweight and waffle? And maybe it's a texture thing, right? And this lightweight and textured twill, it's like too many choices still reduce the choices and, and make it so when I get to this page, we're showing four towels and it's easy for me to say between these four, this one is the right one for me.

Hopefully that all makes sense. Thanks for listening to my rants.

In hindsight, here's the summary of my recommendations in this recording:

  1. A buyer's guide should help the customer easily find the right product for them.
  2. That's done be reducing the number of products they should consider.
  3. And by clearly calling out the differences between product choices.
  4. Use language that helps the customer see themselves in the choices.
  5. Doing this well is hard because being concise and making things easy is hard work.

So that's it for this episode. I hope you find this example useful. And if this approach is what your Shopify businesss needs, feel free to reach out to me at

Thanks for listening.

    JadePuma is a certified Shopify Expert. If you need any help with your Shopify store, we can help.