How to set up a frictionless shopping experience
Setting up a frictionless shopping experience is key to customer satisfaction and retention in fashion's phygital environment.
What does a frictionless shopping experience mean?
The concept of a frictionless shopping experience revolves around the idea of connecting buyers and sellers to make consumers able to find the products or services they need, compare shops in real-time and purchase what they want instantaneously.
In other words, a frictionless customer experience occurs when brands identify and remove friction points to make sure customers have smooth and satisfying shopping experiences with their businesses.
The concept of frictionless shopping experience applies perfectly to both in store and online retail shops - especially considering how these two dimensions are so closely linked when it comes to the fashion industry, being frictionless means providing consumers with a seamless hybrid shopping experience with phygital experiences.
Thus, no matter if the purchase occurs in a physical or in a digital form, a frictionless shopping experience for customers must consider:
- Frictionless shopping, all products and services must be easy to find and try;
- Frictionless checkout, payments must be simple, fast and safe;
- Frictionless delivery, as customers want to touch with hands their products as soon as possible, even if the purchase occurred via e-commerce.
The main types of customer friction: what causes friction in shopping?
There are three types of customers friction which can occur while shopping, compromising the whole journey and mismatching effectiveness between user interface and experience:
- Interactive friction happens when it’s not easy for consumers to understand, navigate and experience a platform, specifically because actions they aim for aren’t easy to achieve or don’t occur as they expect;
- Cognitive friction happens when an interface isn’t intuitive and requires too much attention and effort from users, resulting in friction that can block the shopping process;
- Emotional friction happens when the whole experience feels negative and wrong for the consumers, who may also feel frustrated or incapable of proceeding with the shopping journey due to eventual barriers related, for example, to website bugs, bad communication or simply an imperfect user interface.
Steps to take to set up a frictionless shopping experience
According to Gartner, even 96% of consumers who experienced some kind of friction while shopping for products or services of a company tend to be disloyal to that brand, and it is more likely that they will never buy them again. This data explains how important is to reduce friction as much as possible and guarantee consumers experience a great shopping journey to build a solid long term relationship. Let’s see what are the main steps to take to set up a frictionless shopping experience and how to best manage them.
First: identify customer touchpoints
The first step refers to the identification of customer touchpoints. A touchpoint represents every single step of interaction between a brand and a consumer, which can be physical or digital, of course.
Studying the touchpoints is key, because it allows companies to identify in which moment of the shopping journey most of the friction occurs and check, through specific tools, how much damage it produces to the brand for conversions, sales and profits.
Second: identify friction points
The next step refers to the identification of friction points. Friction basically represents everything which can be a barrier for consumers to go on with their shopping journey, with the risk of wasting opportunities to generate sales and profits due to them.
Once companies identify the moments that mostly negatively affect the customer experience, it’s essential to understand what exactly goes wrong. It could be a problem related to the product interface, to the checkout or rather to the way a company feels to the user along the whole process. To better understand what are the friction points, some questions could help:
- How many steps does the shopping process include?
- How long a customer has to wait for an answer?
- Does the brand remain consistent across all touchpoints?
- How easy is it for the user to get to the next touchpoint?
- Is it easy for customers to take real action following a clear call-to-action?
Third: map the customer journey and take actions to improve
Once both touchpoints and friction are identified, it’s time to go on with the third step which is mapping the whole customer journey. This process is essential because it allows the brand to learn about the quality of interactions that occur between them and consumers in a specific moment, making it even clearer to understand where and how to intervene to improve. Thus, it’s easier to collect data and information which represent a great starting point for a company to plan and take action.
Mapping the customer journey is also a key factor for innovation in the fashion digital retail sector. Indeed, one of the most performing and interesting examples refers to the connected products: in fact, thanks to them it is possible to transform garments from simple items to sell into real touchpoints that put into play a new way to connect brands and people through extra content, experiences and opportunities.
Fourth: keep analysing customer behaviour and interactions
Last but not least, the fourth step consists of monitoring customer behaviour and interaction over a period of time. This way, companies can have a complete vision of their customers and take note of improvements, and understanding if the actions take to create a frictionless shopping experience were effectively provided to consumers willing to buy.
Of course, this is a very important phase where is key to collect more data and information: they will be useful to adjust the processes across the touchpoints, implement frictionless shopping, checkout and delivery journeys and just make customers happy.
Why brands should set up frictionless shopping experiences?
There are at least three reasons that make it mandatory for brands to set up frictionless shopping experiences, especially for those who want to leverage new technologies. Indeed, it is important for:
- Improving customer satisfaction, an obvious factor considering that customers that are able to complete operations smoothly will be loyal buyers over the long term;
- Enhancing customer retention, a very important factor for companies to leverage is the long-term loyalty of customers who can be rewarded with personalised offers and benefits matching their preferences;
- Connecting consumers in a phygital environment. New business models and technology that mix physical and online stores provide plenty of opportunity to provide innovative experiences as well as drive sales; good examples include try before you buy, live commerce, NFTs and connected products.