Shopping’s Zero Friction Future

Five things you need to do right now to create seamless, personalized customer experiences

This year’s Shoptalk conference brought together many of the world’s largest retailers to learn about the latest innovations in technology and how to transform for the mobile age.

One of the biggest themes that emerged was the importance of eliminating friction – the inconveniences or delays that can slow down the customer journey. People no longer expect seamless shopping experiences. They demand them.

To thrive amid these consumer expectations, businesses need to build toward retail’s zero friction future – today.

Consider this: A quarter of apparel shoppers spend less than five minutes browsing prior to purchase and say they like or love the personalized experiences they get from AI. The majority are willing to pay a premium for convenience or can easily take their business elsewhere if your brand doesn’t stack up.

In a world where content and choice are abundant, the takeaway is clear: People hate friction.

This year, the opportunity cost of friction is projected to be $213 billion for online sales in the U.S. alone.

Common areas of friction across the mobile path to purchase include: irrelevant offers, ads or recommendations; inadequate product information; a lengthy or frustrating checkout process; poor order and delivery tracking; customer support delays; and an overall lack of mobile optimization.

What can you do about these? Here are five things to put in place today:

Connect the dots between online discovery and in-store sales

Consumers are researching on mobile then shopping more intentionally in person. Leverage AI to show ads to people most likely to make an in-store purchase, even if they are not existing customers with store sales optimization. Last year, Express did just that – and drove 4.7 percent online and in-store lift for net new customers.

Make browsing easier

Use what you know about your customers to provide a more personalized, contextually relevant experience. Retailers are also making it easier for shoppers to make informed decisions through applications of augmented reality – like the Facebook AR ads that Michael Kors tested to streamline the try-before-you-buy experience.

Ensure that buying is quick, painless and intuitive

Optimize your checkout flow to minimize form fields and automate personal information. On average across 600+ small-large businesses in the U.S., it takes an average of 22.08 clicks to complete online and mobile checkouts. But research we did with Accenture found that over a third of shoppers soon expect one-click buying.

Exceed expectations post-purchase

Ship things quickly, and at a reasonable price, with mobile-first order and delivery tracking. 64 percent of people would choose to message a business before picking up the phone or sending an email, so level up your customer care with 24/7, mobile-friendly options like Messenger.

Test and iterate based on small changes at a time, over time

Fundamental shifts in consumer behavior demand shifts in business strategy. This can feel overwhelming, but it does not have to happen all at once.

The future belongs to businesses that build for it, now. That’s why today is the best time to create tomorrow’s friction-free shopping.

Currently head of industry, retail superstores and groceries at Facebook, Martin Gilliard has driven the company’s development of data products for the retail vertical. This pursuit of innovation has propelled Martin throughout his career including stints as CIO at Barneys New York and VP of platform services at WPP Group’s Media Innovation Group.