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What is Frictionless Shopping and How Will It Impact Your Retail Business?

frictionless-shopping.jpgAs shopping behaviors change, and consumers demand a seamless experience between digital browsing and in-store purchasing, it’s critical that store owners make adjustments to stay competitive. Offering a frictionless shopping experience that incorporates checkout and payment options, real-time customer service, and incorporates consumers’ delivery preferences is quickly becoming a fundamental part of any retailer's business. If you're looking for how to connect with new customers, embracing frictionless shopping may be the way to do it. 

What is frictionless shopping?

The concept of frictionless shopping is the idea of connecting buyers and sellers in a way that provides consumers the ability to instantly find the products or services they need. Consumers can comparison shop in real time, then purchase good and services instantaneously. Frictionless shopping means consumers are in control. As the concept has evolved, along with technology, consumers now expect to have this experience via their smartphones.

In addition, frictionless shopping means eliminating anything that doesn’t add value and negatively impacts the consumer experience. Examples include requiring consumers to dig out loyalty cards or wait for paper receipts to print.

The implications for retailers involve everything from the way they package and market products to the ease with which consumers can complete the checkout process. It means understanding how to incorporate user-friendly ordering options and click-and-collect services. For brick-and-mortar stores, it means finding a way to align mobile payment options, inventory systems, and getting customers into the store.

What has led to frictionless shopping?

Consumers have come to expect instantaneous answers to their questions. They want information at their fingertips, literally, and to be able to easily find what they’re looking for with a quick search on their smartphone. They don’t want to wait in long checkout lines at stores, and they don’t want to wait days to receive items ordered online.

A recent example of the ultimate frictionless shopping experience is Amazon’s rollout of Amazon Go. The technology is currently being tested in a San Francisco grocery store, allowing customers to use a smartphone app that automatically adds items to their virtual shopping cart when they select them from the shelf. When they complete their shopping, they simply walk out. The items are then charged to their Amazon account.

Another example of a company that is embracing frictionless shopping is Walmart. The company recently launched Walmart Pay, a technology that allows customers to pay using a smartphone app. In its first few months, Walmart reports that 88% of customers who have tried it have become repeat users.

How will frictionless shopping impact retailers?

For retail businesses to thrive in a frictionless shopping environment, they must embrace technology and data throughout the process, from product innovation to the in-store consumer experience. Retailers can use technology to understand how consumers respond to packaging and displays, increase production to respond to demand, improve efficiencies in distribution, and alert retailers when shelves need to be restocked. Smartphone push notifications can provide customers with useful information while they’re shopping, eliminating the need for them to find a sales associate. Grocery stores can use digital technology to help consumers know the freshness of produce and adjust pricing to minimize waste.

One of the most important elements of the frictionless shopping experience for retailers is a smooth mobile checkout process. Forms should be mobile-friendly and easy for consumers to complete. Minimize the authentication process by allowing third-party or fingerprint touch login. Make it easy for customers to find help via live chat, by calling, or with FAQs.

To stay competitive, embracing the concept of frictionless shopping in your store is a must. Remember that your customers want to do business with retailers who understand the value of their time. Given the choice between standing in line at a checkout counter versus scanning a barcode on their smartphone, it’s easy to predict which experience is going to win in that battle. To be competitive, be sure you’re giving your consumers what they want: a frictionless shopping experience.

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