Brick and Mortar’s Next Chapter: Frictionless

When thinking about a consumer’s shopping experience within a brick and mortar store, retailers’ efforts are often segmented into two differing approaches: a focus on scanning and contactless, or immersive and personal technology.

Contactless versus immersive tech

Scanning and contactless technology work to drive convenience and cut down on time consumers need to spend waiting in line. Even now, this point of sale technology has evolved one step further into scan-less, as Amazon has introduced Amazon Go stores and now, smart grocery carts, which eliminate the checkout line entirely.

However, for shoppers looking for a more personal experience – such as a gift-wrapping service – contactless shouldn’t be the only option.

Immersive, personal technology delivers a more tailored approach. Virtual reality, interactive displays and digital signage all can transform the brick and mortar store and provide individualized experiences for shoppers. For example, with AI, digital signage can target customers in the store based on factors such as geographic location, time of day and customer demographics. 

Of course, depending on their vertical, value prop and more, not all retailers can – or necessarily need to – implement this technology. And what’s more, not all consumers may desire this experience. If shoppers stop bya convenience store for one item they already have in mind, they won’t be looking for an immersive experience.

Combining contactless and immersive to establish frictionless

However, successful retailers realize that a number of different shoppers with different needs enter their stores each and every day. The ideal technology strikes a balance of contactless and personal. It supports a robust unified commerce portfolio strategy that provides consumers the right experience at the right time. And at this intersection of contactless and personal lies frictionless retail.

Eliminating friction in the store

In response to COVID-19, brick and mortar stores have implemented new policies and practices to ensure the health and safety of shoppers and employees. As a result, shopping journeys are more likely to begin online and then transfer to the store, which highlights the importance of need for unified systems. A retailer’s website needs to be able to show accurate inventory for each store. And when shoppers continue their journey as they shift from desktop or mobile to in-store, that transition must be seamless.

Additionally, physical stores are also adapting and doubling as distribution or fulfillment centers as shoppers opt for BOPIS or curbside options. Therefore, frictionless last-mile services are essential. Shoppers should be able to easily place orders and pay for their items online, through a mobile device or in the store. Along with frictionless checkout in-store, providing free guest WiFi allows retailers to send personalized offers directly to shoppers’ devices.

Find the balance

Every shopper is looking to minimize friction, whether that’s in the browsing, buying or last-mile stage. But not every consumer journey should be treated equally, which is why a balance of personalized and contactless shopping experiences is crucial.

Plus, with unified technology that eliminates friction in the store, employees can do their intended job: provide an excellent customer experience. As physical stores reopen and adapt across the nation, the successful next chapter is frictionless technology.

Have you identified the friction in your business yet?