Option fatigue in Fashion, have you faced this and How can we change this?

Have you ever faced an issue where you needed to buy something specific? a dress for a beach vacation or a piece of jewelry, you can even picture the type flowing, feminine and sustainable but don’t have any brand in mind so you go on a hunt with your standard go-to online places Shein, Asos, Net a Porter, Farfetch or any local one’s you have in your own country.

I personally lean towards Farfetch but usually don’t end up shopping there UNLESS I have a specific brand in mind.

I’ve also faced this familiar feeling in restaurants where I have more than 5 options to choose from (in-fact facing this issue whilst writing the article haha and interestingly the group at the other table, asked me about their dish as they couldn’t decide either the irony!) and I know it’s not only me, my friends struggle to pick and choose as well between a soup or a salad the list goes on! This leads to a discussion on what we should get, if we should share, what does the chef recommend etc etc?

What happens here is the very same situation we’re feeling while picking a fashion item online, too many options actually too many great options and we’re not sure what is the best one?

At this point I usually narrow down my choices like I would with filters online (hypothetically) what nourishment does my body need (filter 1), what are the prices (filter 2) what is their best dishes (filter 3) and then I make my decision

This should help you understand the human psyche now let’s replicate this to shopping for fashion online

I’m on farfetch or Asos buying a white shirt, I need a casual one nothing to fancy, slightly elevated. Now if you’re Customer type A — someone who wants something super specific — like a Balenciaga logo shirt or the cheapest one out of the rack you’re over and out now if you’re Customer B someone that has certain values and is open to trying new things you’ve got a problem

First you filter to T-shirts (filter 1) or go directly in the landing page, in this case it’s not a filter, next you choose your color option (filter 2), Price point and sustainability make it to filter options 3,4 even with such detailed filtering consumers, me included have too many options to decide from so we either spend a lot of time browsing through the options or get confused and leave the site the second option usually happens to me

As you can see from the below image, there isn’t a filter option within “conscious” and this segmentation isn’t enough especially when sustainability has gotten so multilayered and we as consumers have our choice even within the segment

I’ve faced this a LOT recently and i’m guessing you have too.

So, in summary Option Fatigue happens when we have way too many options to choose from and our brain either freezes or becomes indecisive. This is ofcource a by product of how spoiled tech has made us that scrolling through products seems like a task but hey! as a merchandiser I see the angle of providing customers with the best experience and we need to keep evolving in this game. What with met averse we might even first try on clothes their ask our friends to rate us and then decide in the physical realm with which product to buy but that’s another discussion more onto current web 2.0 merch problems

Most Gen-Z’s and even Gen Y’s are not brand loyalists and easily swayed to newer more meaningful brands and hence are open to buying new options, trusting new brands and shelling money out towards brands that resonate with their values

There are 2 options I see as a merchandiser to reduce the issue of option fatigue — and mainly driven by further narrowing down options and the ability to create more personalization

  1. A questionnaire

Which takes our needs into account such as our Personality, Sustainability, Pricing Vacation, Type, Personality in general

The questionnaire could have such points

  1. Choose your personality/ Fashionista, Trend Setter, Minimalist, Logo driven

2. Price points — What is you maximum limit at which point you’ll absolutely not cave in

3. Are you buying for a specific occasion? Wedding, Romantic Getaway

4. Sustainable — How important on a scale of 1–10 is sustainability for you?

5. If above 6, what is close to heart for you within sustainability? Net Zero, Artisanal, Fair Trade, only natural materials, B-corp, GOTS certified cotton etc.

6. These are just tailored to the type of customer I am, but can be different based on the website assortment and offerings

(Here is a example of a great questionnaire for fragrances from a brand I consult it’s based on human psyche Maison 21G (link to questionnaire at the bottom of the page)

Great benchmarks to measure/see the need for having a more tailored approach are

a. Average time spent on a product listing page, more than 15mins is a good benchmark to say optimization is needed esp if you’re able to measure exit rate for customers with 15 +mins v/s others

b. bounce rates within large product listing pages is a sign that the customer is either overwhelmed, doesn’t like the products displayed in (first scroll) or was just curious.

2. Additional Filter options — the more feasible one, even if it impacts < 5% of customers it’s a win win for every additional conversion you get

(even if the usability is low if someone spends quite some time example 15 mins + browsing a PLP, a pop up should come with a prompt that you can narrow your choices further

This pop will probably have to be developed with customer average time spent on the landing page.

Now, what can you do as a consumer?

It can be pretty challenging to understand what you need, more than often we tend to pick what’s right in front of our eyes rather than go through the pain and research for what we actually need.

This is how big brands use our needs to pick the easiest option or harshly put prey on us! They have the spending power to shed millions and even green wash us.

Due to this reason, I end up spending my energy on standalone brands online, which unfortunately have higher shipping costs but at-least this way I end up supporting meaningful brands, which are hustling with in competition of big players. Shopping from these smaller brands leads to the following

1. Evening out playing field — market share become more balanced and it’s not 80/20 disparity that we see almost everywhere

2. Engaging with brand site — learning more about brand practices in depth

3. Small brands feel so deeply when they receive orders on site

4. Shopping from brand site entails that they conserve their margins, which the big e-tailers take on

5. Gives these small brands the data they need on the consumer to grow

The downside

Carbon Footprint

Now what I loose though is my carbon footprint, from ordering through a brand 1 parcel from X to Y country whereas local e-tailers help reduce that carbon aspect that i’d like to save off. It’s the trade off I believe (let me know what you guys thing on the comment below please? Would love your perspective on this

I also prefer smaller e-tailers dedicated to a sustainable space, one of my fav one’s is Reve en Vert it focuses on few designers across categories creating a layered impact and.

Curious to know, if anyone has faced this Fashion Fatigue like I have and what other solutions do you have??


Maison 21g quiz : https://www.maison21g.com/

If you would love to learn more about Merchandising

Basics to Digital Merchandising Course: https://www.udemy.com/course/basic-to-digital-merchandising/?referralCode=0F9FCE435AC4DBBA1796



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Payal A Kumar

Payal A Kumar

All things Spiritual, Wellness centric and dedicated to our evolution journey