Back in 2000, a couple of researchers tested the theory that if we’re provided with too many choices then we end up making none at all. They set up a booth at a posh supermarket in America and posing as employees of the shop, displayed an alternating number of products to the shoppers. Half the time they displayed 6 jars of jam, the other half they displayed 24 jars.
As you might expect, with 24 jars laid out, far more people stopped to take an interest, with 60% of shoppers stopping to take a look against only 40% for the 6 jars.
What is interesting is that of the shoppers that stopped to look at the 24 jars, only 3% made a purchase compared to 30% who made a purchase when there were 6 jars on the table. In cold hard cash the difference amounted to 12 total purchases for the 6 jars half, versus only 2 total purchases for the 24 jar half. This means that the total sales for the 6 jar half were 600% greater.
Whilst there are no benchmarks that I am aware of for the optimum number of products or calls to action that should be shown on a web page it is a cornerstone of maximising the conversion funnel not to over complicate the sales process, part of this is necessarily to not have too many products on the page. On the other hand, having too few can also act as a deterrent as it doesn’t allow the customer to make a conscious choice in their selection. Only by monitoring user behaviour, page layout and the conversion funnel carefully and manipulating the process can you maximise sales.