- Studies showed that people actually felt worse about their purchases when they had more to choose from (did I make the right decision?), and often even bought less because of it.
- What was missing ... [is] "data" about products, and "metadata" about information itself. For the physical goods, this can take the form of something as simple as Amazon's "rank by bestselling" lists to more complex background information such as reviews, price comparisons, version histories and manufacturing details.
As Amazon's Jeff Bezos explains it, for a product that a potential purchaser has a great deal of interest in, no amount of information is too much: from reader and trade reviews to service records, the more they can learn about a product the more comfortable they are buying it. But for products that they just don't care much about, even something as simple as knowing what most other people bought can make the difference between being frozen by overwhelming choice and purchasing with confidence.
We don't just need more information. We need the right information.
Specifically, we need information that allows us to easily and quickly differentiate between the products. Flooding me with tons of information isn't useful if the information I need is lost in the clutter.
See also my earlier post, "Froogle adds product reviews", about how reviews transform Froogle from a mere price comparison engine to a service that gives "users the information they need to differentiate between products, helping them find the right product at the right price."