Buying used to be a whole lot easier.
Once upon a time, the path to a purchase looked like this:

You want coffee beans.

You jot it down on your shopping list and saunter down to your local supermarket, humming the latest 90s hit.

You reach for the “Dark Roast” from the 3-4 options on the shelf.

You brew the aforementioned “Dark Roast”.

You take a delicious sip and go back to playing with your Tamogotchi.

Now, consumers are buried in choice.

This is the experience of shopping the Infinite Shelf.

“But wait, isn't more choice good?”

Well, having two options is certainly better than one. But when a customer is faced with 300 options, it leads to vastly increased cognitive load, not to mention a heap of uncertainty (you can learn more about the paradox of choice here).

These are factors that inhibit buying behavior (and just plain don't feel good.)

We all want to help people have better, smoother, easier buying journeys. But it's easy to forget what the experience is really like when you're browsing the Infinite Shelf. So, let's slip on our shopping boots and see what walking today's purchase path is really like.

Camila's Purchasing Pathway*

Meet Camila.

Camila's always liked the idea of trying yoga.

She's got some free time on her hands, so she figures now's a good time to get stuck in.

Step 1: Get herself a nice pair of yoga pants.

She's willing to spend a good amount on a comfy pair that will last her for years.

She pops open her laptop, and types “yoga pants” into the search bar.

“About 340,000,000 results”

Okay, right.

She quickly clicks Back and types in

Her eyes immediately get drawn to a myriad of sponsored ads, most proclaiming to be the comfiest, stretchiest pair of pants available.

She scrolls down past the paid results and clicks through a few of the top sites.

There's a few commission-based review sites, tech sites reviewing yoga pants (huh?), Best Of listicle sites, and a few conflicting Reddit threads.

Hm. This isn't as clear-cut as she'd hoped.

She settles for an article titled “35 Best Yoga Pants For Women” on a reputable fashion blog she recognizes.

Camila scrolls through the list to find 35 different yoga pants from 35 different companies.

She soon sees a photo of a pair she likes the look of. Phew.


She's brought to the brand's website — but… there are zero product reviews.

She's determined not to waste her money on a pair that won't last, so she quickly clicks Back.

Slightly dejected, Camila continues scrolling through the 35 pairs and she finds another that catches her eye.


Hmm. She's never heard of this brand before... but this time, there's several of their own reviews hosted on their site. And they're ALL five stars. Glowing. Suspicious.

She quickly messages her friend

Hey, what do you think about these?🤔

A quick response:

Soooo. Bought shorts from that brand a month ago. Tore instantly (in a gym class — horror show.) Brand didn’t upload the 1 ⭐️ review I left. Never reached out. Pass! 😬


Camila scrolls to the end of the listicle page. She's at a loss — utterly demotivated.

“*Sigh* Maybe I'll just take up running...”

Close window.

This kind of paralyzing choice is all-too-common.

It derails buying journeys. It saddles people with pressure and uncertainty.

And for companies, it makes standing out in a given industry extremely difficult.

It's no wonder most consumers don't feel comfortable making a purchase without consulting with the world's largest jury: the internet.

But that's just the thing: as challenging as it is for people to decide on the modern purchasing path — that's precisely where the value of verified reviews shine.

A matter of choice

In a landmark 2000 study, researchers Iyengar and Lepper set out to learn about how choice affects behavior.

They ran an experiment in which they set up a “free sample” table at a nearby grocery store on two occasions. For the first table, they offered 6 jam flavors for customers to sample. In the second, they let customers sample the full range of 24 jams.

The results? When customers were offered just 6 options, 30% of people made a purchase.

But when customers were offered 24 options to choose from, only 3% made a purchase. This purchase paralysis is bad for consumers, and bad for business.

When consumers can turn to reviews that are trusted, visible and independent, it fundamentally changes the purchase pathway.

Top down view of person working on laptop

Decisions are made easier.

What's more helpful to a prospective buyer than having direct access to the experiences, concerns, questions, and satisfaction levels of people who've made the exact same choice?

Consulting the hive mind takes the pressure off people to find the “best option” among many. The result is that they feel able to make clearer decisions and crucially, they feel confident enough to act.

Great companies stand out and get noticed.

When the voice of the collective is there for all to hear, it naturally highlights the companies that go above and beyond for their customers.

Especially when reviews are verified by an independent third party, a high rating becomes a certified mark of quality — something that can't be replicated by any amount of competitive ad spend.

Person in bright office working at desk with two laptops

Susan Wandersworth

52 reviews


2 hours ago

Super happy with my purchase...

Brands can speak (and listen) directly to customers.

Reviews can be absolutely invaluable to brands when it comes to identifying what works and what needs more attention.

The raw insight gained from reading about experiences in the customers' own words can help companies make better decisions when it comes to building future iterations of their product or service. It's Grade-A info, straight from the source.

Plus, responding directly to reviews gives businesses an opportunity to thank the customers that took time to leave positive feedback, and connect with any negative reviewers to make it right.

It all adds up to what we call the trust-powered purchase journey — and it doesn't just help guide your customers towards their future favorite products, it also generates significant value for companies that build one.

Read more about how creating a trust-powered purchase journey can accelerate revenue and growth.

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