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The Power of No: An Unexpected Path to Ecommerce Conversions
Michael Prichard
February 18, 2022

The Power Of No

One of the surprising things we noticed in the data after we launched our first Interactive Product Finder was that a ‘dislike’ (eg ‘thumbs down’) produced a much higher conversion rate than all the other interactions. In the case of a jewelry merchant, conversions from downvotes were nearly 3x from upvotes.

Is your e-commerce conversion rate greater than or less than 6%?

Why “no” is effective

The art of negotiation is about getting the outcome you want. In your case, you want your shopper to convert into a customer and buy a product from your store.

One tactic used by FBI hostage negotiators is to give the other side opportunities to say “no”. This gives the other side the perception of power. You can read more about these tactics in Chris Voss’ book. (It’s a great read, thank us later).

In our case, letting the shopper dislike a product gives agency (read: choice) in the shopping journey and empowers them to find the right product.

In other words, it gives the shopper control which, in turn, gives them the confidence to buy from you.

I know this may as the antithesis of what we were taught in e-commerce school but shopping in real life is not about controlling what a customer does or sees but rather letting them browse and ask questions in their time.

This is why we see a ‘dislike’ or a ‘thumbs down’ lead to both higher conversion rates AND higher revenue per visitor. You are empowering your shopper with the ability to carve out their experience.

Simplify decision-making

“The time it takes to make a decision increases with the number and complexity of choices.” — Hick’s Law

Essentially, the more choices we offer the shopper, the longer they will take to purchase a product. BUT WAIT, you have so many beautiful products, if we don’t show them a variety of options, they won’t find something they want! This is a common mistake.

What we want is to show them the RIGHT PRODUCTS and to do this we need to know what NOT TO SHOW THEM. By giving them the ability to say “no” we are reducing the number of choices they need to make while hyper-personalizing for that moment. Much like how they would work with a brick-and-mortar sales associate.


Reduce the number of choices you present your shoppers, and empower them to guide their own shopping journey. This can be done with well-designed filters, smarter search, simpler home pages, cleaner collection pages, concise product pages, quizzlets, and interactive recommenders.


Skafos gives you the tools to empower shoppers and help them find products they are most likely to buy. By implementing interactive recommenders powered by Skafos AI, you can learn what shoppers like and dislike, speed up the product discovery process, and convert more visitors into loyal customers.


Hero photo by Kai Pilger on Unsplash