Fewer Options Means Less Yelling: A Lesson in Stock Colors

Humans think they want choices, but they don’t.

Exhibit A: powder coating colors.

Kaser stocks 24 different powder coating options. They’re all affordable, high-quality products in a range of popular colors, textures, and glosses. Most customers are very happy with the selection.

Occasionally, a customer will complain. “Is this all you have? I see other shops doing so many more colors. Why can’t I have pink?” etc.

What these customers don’t realize is that I used to let them pick from large color decks. They could have any color they wanted from any manufacturer I worked with. If it was a small project in an unusual or pricey powder, I would just have them buy the box and I’d spray it for them.

Far from making customers happier, this wealth of options just stressed them out.

They couldn’t understand why the powder was so expensive. They couldn’t understand why a lot of the powders only came in 55-pound boxes. They couldn’t understand why delivery times were so long for unusual colors. They couldn’t understand that I wasn’t spraying big batches of fuchsia every week. The more I would try to explain, the more heated the conversation would get.

So I changed my approach. I hand-picked the 24 powders for which we had the most demand, focusing mostly on neutrals (grays, blacks, whites, bronzes) and throwing in some bright colors for good measure. Then, I stocked up.

And just like that, the mood shifted.

It became so much easier for customers to select the color they wanted. They weren’t nearly as overwhelmed by options, lead times, and price points. I could tell them with certainty that the powder was in stock, and that the coating would hold up well.

Note that I am not entirely unwilling to order other colors. We have several industrial clients for whom we buy odd colors all the time. With enough part volume, it’s worth it. But buying 55 pounds of mint green powder for one lawn chair is not.

I’m not trying to limit my customer’s options – I’m just trying to limit their stress (and ours). When it comes to stock colors, fewer options means less yelling.



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