Eliminating friction in retail

Over the last few years many everyday tasks have become ‘frictionless’ or as close to it as possible. Consumers expect instant, easy experiences as standard. Brands that provide that will win, brands that provide an experience that’s tricky or jars, well they’ll start to fall by the wayside. Friction in an experience is the enemy. Customers will go to the brand that provides the best experience.


So what is friction in the context of retail? Friction is anything that leaves a consumer disappointed following an interaction with a brand. It’s an experience disconnect. Something that leaves a consumer feeling dissatisfied.


Friction or experience disconnect can come from many places – an inaccurate marketing message, poor website experience, a tricky checkout or offline challenges like a longer delivery than expected. Speed, convenience, ease, consistency and trust are vital pillars for CX success. Customers are loyal to brands that consistently provide a service with no friction. In fact, customers are willing to pay more for an experience that’s superior. Here’s some stats from PWC:


  • 73% of people point to CX as an important factor in purchasing decisions
  • Less than 50% US consumers say companies provide a good CX
  • 43% consumers would pay more for greater convenience


The global pandemic has been a challenging time for marketers. Plans and strategies that we’d all been working on for months, perhaps years, were abandoned. Many retailers ripped up their marketing plan and entered survival mode. During this time, we’ve all learnt a lot and taken more risks. Now, we need to focus on customer experience to survive and thrive.


Where to start can be overwhelming or you could come up against the view that everything has already been done to provide a good customer experience. That might be true, but there’s always room for improvement and learning. Don’t forget that you work on your site and emails day in day out, so you know exactly how everything works but with more people online and older generations making the switch to digital, you need to be certain that for your customers, engaging with your brand is actually straightforward.


During Covid-19 visibility, openness and honesty have been vital throughout any shopping process. Online shoppers will expect this transparency to continue moving forward. In email, customers need and expect the latest, most up-to-date content. Six months ago, we might not have been too upset if we opened an email, clicked through and discovered the online sale advertised had ended. It’s a different story now if we receive an email saying stores are open, but when get to the shop we find it’s closed. Marketing messages must be kept up-to-date.


Onsite, activity should be uncomplicated and frictionless to strengthen loyalty and encourage repeat purchasing. Review your product pages and ask yourself whether the information is clear and accessible – should reviews be hidden at the bottom, is the CTA clear and in a good position. Could the page benefit from product recs or recently viewed? Check your site on all devices too – most of us are on our mobile devices.


These are just a couple of common areas where experience can often be lower than expectation. Moving out of the pandemic, I hope to see brands having customer experience at the heart of their activity. There’s been a monumental shift in online activity and it’s time to see what’s worked well, what should be ditched and what needs to be pitched for improvement.


In my next blog, I’ll delve into common frustrations the Kickdynamic team encounter in the inbox and online.


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