When a fashion designer creates her collection, she doesn't design individual stand-alone pieces. Instead, her collection is cohesive, which makes it easier for consumers to build different outfits, rather than trying to piece together styles on their own.

The thing is, the average consumer has little to no idea how it all comes together. She gets a general idea of what's supposed to go together based on how the models wear the outfits, then when she feels confident, she'll start creating her own custom looks.

When it comes to complex decisions that involve many different factors, consumers will often look to companies to provide curated options they can pick and choose from. This type of customization is called bundling, and almost any business can find a way to improve its customer experience by adding this option.

Take Netflix and NatureBox, for example. Although the two companies provide vastly different products (streaming video and healthy snacks), they've both done an outstanding job adopting this "bundled" business model. Their subscription services use consumer preferences and feedback to pare down enormous inventories into personalized selections for every customer.

Bundling makes the shopping experience simpler but more significant, and the advantages don't stop there.

The Benefits of Bundling

Netflix and NatureBox have both succeeded because of their use of bundling. Bundling products or services allows companies to:

  • Enhance the customer experience. When your customers can choose specific products and services tailored to their unique wants and needs, they'll be much happier. Give customers the option to add, remove, or edit products from your base bundles to make the buying process more straightforward and more satisfying.
  • Mitigate decision exhaustion. Consumers like choices, but they don't like an overwhelming number of choices. This is why Netflix and Amazon provide tailored recommendations based on user preferences. By directing customers toward choices that fit their personal needs, you can eliminate the mental exhaustion caused by being forced to choose from too many options.
  • Improve customer confidence. When a customer is invested in his choice, he's more likely to value the product he purchased and the company he worked with. So next time he needs guidance, your company will be top of mind.
  • Understand the products purchased. Consumers who customize a service or product to fit their needs will have a better understanding of what they're paying for, allowing them to get more out of it.
  • Supplement customer feedback. By letting consumers drive their own experience, you'll gain valuable insights into which of your products or services work and which don't--helping you improve your offerings. This constant feedback loop will allow you to continuously tweak the shopping experience and develop better products in the long run.

3 Industries That Should Adopt Bundling

Building bundles and customizing services and products is a growing business trend. It's already taken hold in industries such as fashion, automotive, entertainment, and even higher education.

When my company created a customer-driven shopping experience for employee benefits plans by offering customizable coverage, we knew we were challenging the traditional way of doing things. But our system has been a huge hit with our customers and a major draw for new clients.

We were able to use bundling services to grow our business, and there are plenty of other industries that can do the same. Here are three industries that could be revolutionized by bundling:

1. Meal Delivery

Bundling could make the confusion, frustration, and monotony of planning meals and grocery shopping a thing of the past. If more companies followed the lead of businesses like HelloFresh, Blue Apron, and Plated, customers could shop in-store or online for a bundle of ingredients to make a complete, healthy meal.

2. Travel

Many travel websites have already benefitted from bundling, but booking airfare, train tickets, ground transportation, hotel rooms, and dinner reservations is still not as seamless or intuitive as it could be.

If a business could allow consumers to pick and choose from suggestions for nearby venues and activities and then offer them a better deal (and greater convenience) by booking in one place, travel would become a more affordable, stress-free experience.

3. Home Care

Wouldn't it be nice to pay your mortgage, heat, electric, Internet, cable, security system, and parking bill in one fell swoop? Taking the complexity out of home care could really boost the industry, especially if the service was comprised of trusted vendors that catered to a customer's location or home size.

The possibilities for bundling are endless, and we're going to see an increase in the number of companies capitalizing on this strategy in the near future. Bundling will be the new e-commerce standard as consumers demand more personalized choices and convenience. The bundling experience puts them in control and gives companies greater insight into consumer preferences, greater profitability, and more satisfied customers.

Published on: Aug 25, 2014