The world is changing fast. Digital connectivity has improved our lives and raised people’s expectations, offering them every imaginable kind of choice. With mobile devices in hand, consumers have more power, voice and access to information than ever before. In this age of instant gratification, creating a good consumer experience is essential. For businesses that aren’t able to meet the new expectations of instant gratification, the cost of friction is huge.
In this fast-changing world of instant gratification, consumers expect to be satisfied immediately and to have access to products and services as soon as they want them. For example, a significant finding of the iVend Retail 2019 Global Shopper Trends Report is that 90% of Middle Eastern shoppers value a quick and easy checkout. Beyond such simple steps, consumers perceive any additional effort, delay or inconvenience as friction and quickly move away, switching to another brand or even abandoning their purchases entirely. As a rule, the more steps consumers have to take, the more opportunities there are for friction.
In that context, brands have no choice but to keep pace and create a great consumer experience, ensuring that as little friction – if not no friction at all – hampers the purchase journey. Brands that don’t, stand to lose not only the trust of existing consumers and the attention of prospective consumers but also billions of dollars in potential revenue; according to web usability research company Baymard Institute, the projected opportunity cost of friction for businesses in the MEA region is $12.2 billion in 2019 for e-commerce alone – and on the upside, addressing friction can deliver new growth opportunities for these businesses.
What’s more, brands have to constantly upgrade the purchase experience. Indeed, the more consumers are exposed to friction-less processes, the less tolerant of friction they become across the board, constantly resetting the bar higher. So, how to offer a frictionless experience?
First, identify where friction happens in your business. It can be offline and online, and at all three stages of the purchase journey: from discovery to purchase and even post-purchase.
At this stage, consumers find out about the brand, business, product or service and want to access clear, concise, relevant information easily, across channels. Otherwise, they lose interest and drop off before purchasing.
Discovery friction occurs in two main categories:
- Inspiration: customers can’t discover what they are not aware of.
- Browsing: customers can’t buy what they can’t find.
Here’s an example of how Facebook Solutions can reduce discovery friction:
Fashion retailer Splash wanted to reach new customers online. So, Facebook marketing partner ROI Hunter worked with Splash to help promote the brand’s new Ramadan Collection and make use of the season to generate online sales.
The team used multiple ad formats to reach different segments on the one hand, and dynamic video ads to retarget people who did not complete the purchase process on the other hand.
The results were staggering: a 75% increase in sales during Ramadan and an 80% boost in conversion rate.
Unexpected steps and processes (long wait times, clunky or inefficient point-of-sale systems, multiple forms, limited payment options, transaction failures, etc.), even after the desired product or service has been selected, can make the online and offline path to purchase unnecessarily cumbersome.
Purchase friction occurs in two main categories:
- Consideration: as consumers think of which products they want, problems can steer them away from purchasing.
- Checkout: consumers may experience pain points that make it difficult to actually buy their selected products or services.
Facebook Solutions can help with friction at the purchase phase, as this example shows:
Fast-food chain KFC Middle East used Facebook collection ads to generate awareness around their new website and drive their online food delivery sales in the UAE and KSA. KFC developed a campaign using this ad format, that lets marketers pair video or imagery with relevant products. It allowed KFC to create an ad that mimicked the window of a drive-thru restaurant. The product thumbnails replicated a restaurant menu.
Results speak for themselves: 22-point lift in ad recall in the UAE, 21-point lift in ad recall in KSA and 100,000 meals ordered online.
Once payment is completed, consumers expect rapid fulfillment, status updates – including purchase confirmation emails and delivery timeslots – and support for their product or service. Post-purchase friction occurs when consumers experience impediments to receiving products or services or are unable to easily access the guidance they need to use or repurchase the product.
Post-purchase friction occurs in two main categories:
- Fulfillment: no matter the industry, fulfillment, customer support and service are essential to any successful business. A bad customer service experience increases the likelihood of customers switching to a competitor.
- Post-delivery: it is vital for consumers to be able to return their purchases easily and be rewarded for their loyalty.
Facebook Solutions can significantly reduce post-purchase friction. Here is an example:
Global logistics and transportation solutions company Aramex had a number of objectives to achieve: improve the quality of customer service; ensure that customers receive their packages in a timely manner; innovate the way it communicates with customers, and reduce the number of customer queries and incoming calls handled by its call centers. WhatsApp Business contributed to all of that by helping Aramex improve the ‘last-mile delivery’ portion of its service, ensuring that packages are successfully delivered to their rightful owners. Because business locations are listed in WhatsApp, consumers can easily find the nearest Aramex outlet and keep track of their orders.
The results were immediate and significant: over one million customers served through WhatsApp Business and a 19% decrease in incoming call volume after transitioning phone inquiries to WhatsApp.
SO, HOW TO REDUCE FRICTION?
Here are three simple steps to reduce friction in a business.
Know your consumers: understand who they are and what has brought them to your business. Identify what steps they had to take to complete their purchase journey and, most importantly, what pain points they encountered at each phase. Conduct a thorough review of your website and mobile data to identify inefficiencies and where the biggest customer drop-offs in your existing process occur. Consider customer surveys, ethnographic research and stakeholder interviews to supplement those findings.
Once the results are in, examine the data and evaluate how these friction points affect your business. Dig deeper into the findings to evaluate which friction point caused the biggest missed opportunity, most likely when most consumers dropped off. After determining which friction point caused the biggest revenue loss, calculate the projected business growth if that were removed. Hold ideation sessions and workshops, and then prioritize areas that would have the most impact on your business.
Following the analysis, formulate a strategy that alleviates friction and improves the consumer experience. Find partners and experts who can work with you on this. While the process can seem challenging, continually testing and learning will help you create better customer experiences. Removing friction is no longer a nice-to-have option. It’s a must for every business that wants to remain relevant to the mobile-first, demanding shoppers who value speed and ease. Businesses that successfully identify friction and remove it will gain a competitive edge and create a zero-friction future for their customers.