Have a headache?

As a consumer there are some shopping experiences that are elegant and well-tailored to how you would like to purchase a product.  For example, the front half of nearly every Apple store I have entered is free of clutter and has logical groupings of related products neatly presented for your evaluation.  It is only when you get to the back half of the store are you met with myriad products whose purpose and selection criteria are murky – I like to call this the “flat panel TV shopping experience” (which is equally horrible).  The vast selection of seemingly interchangeable goods (for example, an iPad case) can be a bit daunting.  This one has a stand, this one looks a bit more rugged, this one is $50, this one is leather, etc.  The experience is so very right at the beginning but falls apart near the end.

The online shopping experience at Dell is very similar.  About ten clicks into the product configurator – which is appalling in and of itself – the wheels fall off the bus.  For example, I selected an Inspiron 15 laptop and was presented with three tabs at the top of my shopping cart – personalize, popular add-ons, review & check out.  The first tab alone had six different subsections and each subsection had different options that could be selected which means that there are 3,072 different ways that I could configure this $399.99 (base price) laptop.  Once you get into the add-ons the different combinations really begin to skyrocket and all of these different possibilities can have a dramatic impact on how delighted you will ultimately be with the product.

Now imagine an experience that – one would think – should be considerably more streamlined given what we know about medicine as well as the relative similarity among products.  Say you walk into a pharmacy with a headache and you’re looking to purchase an over the counter (OTC) product to address the pain.  How do you being the process?  By brand?  By form factor?  By active ingredient?  By dosage?  By possible drug interaction risks?  The team behind OTC start-up Help Remedies drew up the dizzying infographic (above and below) that shows the insane set of choices that the average American faces when entering a major pharmacy with this very problem.

The data in this infographic is very real but the options are so numerous it is nearly impossible to read each and every choice available.  Clearly there are good reasons why some of the fragmentation exists but it is an excellent example of an industry and product segment in need of dramatic simplification.

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