I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s.The most convenient one to my house is about 50 miles away. I don’t get to Trader Joe’s often, but if I’m within 15 miles, you bet I’m going out of my way, because a trip to Trader Joe’s is a treat.
But I’m not a foodie. So what’s going on here?
A big reason why I enjoy TJ’s is the lack of choice. Yes, I said the lack of choice. Where a regular grocery store carries at least 20 yogurt choices, Trader Joe’s presents me with four. It’s similar with tortilla chips — do I want yellow or blue? Apples? Two choices. Alfredo sauce? One choice. Olives? One choice.
Limited selection means fewer decisions to make! In my world, fewer decisions=easy. Easy=fun.
It makes sense for Trader Joe’s to carry a limited number of SKUs, as explained in this 2010 article:
A closer look at its selection of items underscores the brilliance of [Trader Joe's founder Joe] Coulombe’s limited-selection, high-turnover model. Take peanut butter. Trader Joe’s sells 10 varieties. That might sound like a lot, but most supermarkets sell about 40 SKUs. For simplicity’s sake, say both a typical supermarket and a Trader Joe’s sell 40 jars a week. Trader Joe’s would sell an average of four of each type, while the supermarket might sell only one. With the greater turnover on a smaller number of items, Trader Joe’s can buy large quantities and secure deep discounts. And it makes the whole business — from stocking shelves to checking out customers — much simpler.
Do you follow the Trader Joe’s model with your products and services? Not everybody does. A friend of mine once told me of an “About” page that contained five calls to action for five different service offerings.
I’m as guilty as anyone of making it difficult for clients to choose. Do we really need to offer a dozen variations of consulting services? Does it make sense to sell five permutations (or is it mutations?) of our software-as-a-service? Hey, maybe it does make sense in your business to offer a huge selection. But before you assume more choice is better, remember Trader Joe’s.