An image of a hand holding a square wooden picture frame in front of a picturesque landscape as an allegory of decision framing in eCommerce. Through the frame, you can see a view of the ocean, sandy cliffs, and lush greenery.

A Quick Guide to Decision Framing to Boost eCommerce Sales

Use "decision framing" to keep customers focused on your products, not the competition. Learn how this strategy can simplify choices, increase sales, and highlight your best offerings.
The Importance of Mobile Optimization in Digital Marketing Reading A Quick Guide to Decision Framing to Boost eCommerce Sales 6 minutes

If you're in the business of selling, whether it be a service or product, one of the most common challenges in convincing your prospective customer to make a purchase is comparison between competing products or services. 

We're all trying to stand out / highlight our unique selling proposition - but with our constant connection via the internet it's also extremely easy for customers to jump ship from our product to that of a competitor. And while we always tend to highlight the benefits of our product versus the competition (be it features, sustainability, pricing, etc), one often missed opportunity is to guide the customer to NOT consider the competition at all.

How to Own the Decision-Making in Sales

One of the best ways to accomplish this is by purposefully "owning the decision-making process” — and you can do so by shifting the framing of options. In particular, by guiding the customer's decision to, instead of being between your product and a competitor’s, be between your product and another of your products.

By offering multiple variants of a product, ideally with different "levels" of features/services/etc, you can help encourage this shift. Instead of the customer considering "should I buy product A from Company X" or "product B from Company Y," offering two different options can push the customer to instead be thinking "should I buy product A from Company X" or "product B from Company X" — the difference here being that the decision is between two products offered by the same company.

Comparison Charts for Decision Ownership

This is where comparison charts highlighting one model of your product versus another can be rather effective in terms of "owning the decision." Obviously there's an inherent value in helping customers make informed purchasing decisions, and guiding them toward the "best" product for them — but a side effect of comparison charts within your own product lines is that you're now guiding the customer to choose between two of your products, versus one of your products and one of a competitors.

Of course, this requires being able to have multiple models available — or at least multiple packages. And for this reason alone, I encourage businesses to do so.

Strategy of Focus Products to Boost Sales

Even if the goal isn't to sell both products, just having them both available, with one in particular (usually chosen based on business reasons such as cost of goods other factors) as your "focus product," this simple shift of decision-making to be between two of your own products can greatly increase your sell-through rates.

As an example, consider if you are a company selling electric scooters —an already crowded market with some key brands such as Razor already owning much of it.

Encourage Internal Product Selection

You'll obviously have to have a good product and a good pitch, and a comparison of yourself against Razor may be helpful - particularly if you can very clearly show the benefit of your product versus theirs (with some social proof to back it up). But consider this: If you have two different models — for example, one with a larger battery than the other — if you instead guide the customer to start choosing between model A and model B, you now are encouraging them to choose between your two models, instead of between yours and that of your competitor.

Of course many customers will still do their due diligence and explore alternative brands, but by “owning the decision” and framing the choice as between your two products, you are discouraging them from going elsewhere.

A great example of this in real-life use is in automotive sales. When cars come with multiple models, like LE vs. XLE vs. Limited, for example, car companies are not only giving multiple options and price points to give customers “choice” — but they’re also encouraging the customer to start thinking in terms of “Do I want a Prius XLE? Or Limited” instead of “Do I want a Toyota Prius or do I want a Hyundai Sonata Hybrid?”

And when this framing of the decision works, the decision is “owned” by Toyota (the maker of Prius). In other words, regardless of the decision, Toyota wins.

Of course, this doesn’t preclude all the other marketing required to drive awareness and interest, including getting the customer through the door in the first place. And yes, at early stages of decision-making the customer will likely be considering alternatives including products from other brands. But at some point, a conscious effort should be made to guide the customer to choose between your various options.

Mitigating Decision Paralysis

One thing to be careful of, however, is the possible introduction of decision paralysis (which is basically when a customer is overwhelmed by choices and ultimately determines that the best path forward is to make no decision). So, as you build out your owned alternatives, be sure to keep this in mind with clear differentiation between the options — both in terms of features/benefits and pricing. Limiting choices to two or three options can also help alleviate potential for paralysis. Explore other effective techniques to nudge your web visitor through the path of purchase in the 'Digital Nudging Techniques' blog article by Trellis, a full-service eCommerce agency with extensive expertise in B2B/B2C digital sales strategy.

Master Decision Framing

It’s a balancing act, to be sure - but once you begin mastering how to “build the frame” in which decisions are made, you’ll start to see the conversation shift — and the positive results that follow.