June 16, 2020
6 min read

The Future of Frictionless

We’ve spent some time looking at the types of shopping behaviors and trips that define the overall retail landscape, the unique areas of friction that create frustration for each one, and the roadblocks for achieving frictionless retail.

We’ve concluded that in the context of both online and in-store retail, true frictionless retail will eliminate any barriers along the path to purchase that are driven by inefficiencies of process or technology. To get there, retailers need to innovate without being reckless. They must laser focus on solving major pain points and go all in on finding great solutions for their shoppers’ unique problems.

How to go frictionless

Once retailers identify the problems, the sooner they can solve them. There is no one-size-fits-all, golden ticket game plan that eliminates friction overnight, but the way retailers can figure out the right plan for their stores is to:

  1. Identify the type(s) of shopping journeys your customers rely on you for.
  2. Discover the moments in the shopping journey, from the first notion of a need to well after the purchase, that could frustrate customers.
  3. Dream big. Think about what a perfect journey looks like when those areas are addressed.
  4. Find partners who can provide or build scalable and flexible technology to execute those processes – those that are ready to deploy today and can grow with you and your customers well into the future.
  5. Rinse and repeat for every pain point, in descending order of priority, with regular evaluation of what those pain points are. 

Transition responsibly

It’s tempting for retailers to try and solve problems with patchwork remedies, doing what they can to make incremental changes to each area. However, reactionary retailers won’t be able to take leadership positions in their markets as customers defer increasingly to those who proactively invest in creating more streamlined experiences. 

That’s not to say retailers need to take big leaps and disrupt business as usual. In fact, going all-in across the board right away could cause disruption for a lot of shoppers, and even if some people love the new efficiencies, others will feel lost. 

For example, going all-in on mobile checkout and getting rid of cashiers could be a dream come true for some tech-savvy shoppers, but this method leaves older demographics in a lurch. Instead, incentivize adoption by offering discounts or loyalty perks for using the new system. As more users adopt the it, lines will get shorter and everyone will become happier. It’s a measured transition that creates value for everyone, not just early adopters.

The future of frictionless

Every vertical will experience frictionless retail differently. Retailers will learn from one another, reprioritizing innovations that prove easy to deploy and are highly valued by shoppers. There will be leaders and laggards and many in between. But shoppers will win. 

For centuries, innovations ranging from steam power to box trucks to box stores to online shopping have made it exponentially easier and cheaper for consumers to get what they want. The customer succeeds when business moves faster, operates more efficiently, and provides the service they don’t yet demand but immediately love. 

And while consumers are the unyielding primary beneficiary of this unstoppable force of progress, the retailers and innovators who enable it have always been handsomely rewarded. While no one knows what a truly frictionless future looks like or how each vertical will enable it, history tells us that those who focus on creating great experiences by eliminating friction will be its greatest champions. 

Contact us today to futureproof your business by investing in what’s next for frictionless.