June 16, 2020
9 min read

Common Roadblocks to Frictionless Retail

We recently discussed how shopping behavior impacts frictionless needs and the technology options retailers should consider to eliminate pain points in the shopper journey. Consumers expect a seamless journey at all touchpoints, and if a brand fails to deliver on this, they will lose to their competitors and fail to keep up. 

But once the right technology is implemented, does it guarantee smooth sailing from there?

Not necessarily. We’ve seen the challenges that retailers face when the solution doesn’t deliver on its full promise, leading to frustrated customers and low return on investment. Retailers obviously want to deliver real value to customers and their bottom line with these frictionless initiatives, but to do so requires addressing the biggest challenges in terms of consumer adoption, technology and cost. 

Here are the common roadblocks that retailers must address to successfully bring the ‘frictionless retail’ experience they are striving for.

Low consumer adoption

Implementing frictionless technology is a waste if consumers don’t use it. The key to high consumer adoption is to ensure that there are great benefits to the technology that will make their life easier, not harder. Some of the top reasons that deter shoppers from using the technology include:  

  • Process inefficiency – Like we mentioned in our last blog, customers want to avoid long checkout lines. Offering new options like curbside pickup or BOPIS is a good start, but it doesn’t address the problem on its own if executed inefficiently. Customers who opt to use these services are looking for new convenience and don’t want to spend a lot of time waiting for their order. Retailers need to ensure the items are ready to go and the pick-up process is quick and easy. 
  • Lack of inventory visibility – We’ve also discussed how frustrating it can be when an item a shopper wants is out-of-stock or there’s limited assortment. If online channels don’t accurately display item inventory visibility in real-time, shoppers will become disappointed when the item is not available in-store when they want it.
  • Lack of personalization – Customers want a personalized shopper experience where the retailer truly understands his or her wants and needs. All frictionless technology options should make it easy for them to find and buy the items they want as conveniently as possible. Retailers can cater to shopper preferences with features like integrated loyalty programs and individualized recommendations on their mobile app. 
  • Underdeveloped concepts and implementation – In May 2018, Walmart pulled the plug on its Mobile Express Scan & Go service after receiving negative feedback from customers who were experiencing issues bagging items and scanning weight-based items. If every part of the process isn’t designed with the worst-case-scenario in mind, frustrations for too many will pile up and the experiment will fail.

Unresponsive technology

There’s nothing more frustrating than when technology doesn’t work the way it’s anticipated to. Technical errors will create IT problems, which is why the right processes must be put in place to ensure there’s little interruption and the system can support high traffic now and in the future. Here are two main issues to consider: 

  • Network issuesOften times, retailers rely on cellular networks through consumer devices to power their in-store technology. As a result, they’re not able to ensure stable and quality service, especially as people consume more and more bandwidth. That’s why in-store customer Wi-Fi is always essential to provide the best available Internet connection and ensure smooth service.
  • Computing issues - As retailers look to achieve frictionless retail, they can utilize both cloud and edge computing to maximize their potential. While edge may have the benefit of speed, cloud has power and capacity, as well as security for both sensitive company and customer information. Retailers must strike the right balance and have the flexible and scalable technology to provide the combined capabilities that is best suited for each solution.

High cost and resources

Finally, costs – up-front, long-term and opportunity costs - are fundamental considerations for any business decision. Where these resources are allocated are often influenced by executive perception and organizational culture. Large companies often have leaders who run the business with old-school thinking, putting the business at risk of underestimating the risks of maintaining the status quo while also underestimating the problems of investing in promising technologies without the right deployment plan.  

However, innovative retailers will find that if they are addressing their customers’ unique demands and implementing the solutions correctly, they will see an increase in ROI and become even more equipped to serve a convenient and enjoyable experience for all current and future customers. Frictionless retail may seem like it requires a daunting effort, but with a smart, long-term plan, the transition will be incredibly worthwhile.

To learn how GK Software can help you remove roadblocks and address these key challenges, contact us here and start creating a truly frictionless experience today.