Points of friction prevent consumers from completing a transaction.
Seamless service and shopping experiences are all sources of competitive advantage when it comes to retail but too often, shopping trips turns from a delight to a disaster as shoppers encounter “friction points” that turn off shoppers and negatively affect your bottom line. In their simplest definition, points of friction are areas in your sales process that prevent consumers from completing a transaction. How do you find them in your shopping experience and how can you fix them?
As consumers, we have all experience friction points in our shopping journeys and wonder how our problems can be solved and why there isn’t technology that can make the experience better. In some ways, technology has solved this problem, but too often the solution leads to more complex programs.
When we talk about points of friction, we’re basically talking about three elements:
- Location – Can I find the thing that I am looking for?
- Service – Is it easy to understand, try, customize, etc.?
- Payment — Is it easy to buy, ship, and deliver, and do it all on my terms?
If any of these conditions are lacking or can be solved by your competition, it leaves consumers disappointed. In fact, they’re probably already writing a negative review about you on Yelp as they’re leaving your store.
Here are some ways to attack these points of friction.
Solving for product location is easy if you invest in advanced video surveillance and analytics packages. Forget the old days of pixelated video cameras to spot quick-fingered shoplifters. Today’s advanced high-resolution cameras offer much more in terms of applications and operations, and can solve your location problem. A video surveillance package can better track and control your inventory, so your employees know whether they really have an item for sale or not. Heat mapping can show you your customer’s path through the store in order to maximize your item marketing and promotion, so people can find that they want. The final element in location is lines. How many sales are lost because a customer doesn’t want to wait or doesn’t have time to wait in a long line. Use your analytics to track when your store is most busy, and staff appropriately.
One of the biggest points of friction in a retail operation is service. Is your staff well-trained and do they have the right tools and knowledge to physically make the sale? Is the staff adding value to a shopping experience, or are they just propping up the counter? In terms of service, you can also use your captured video to physically look at the layout of your store to see where potential points of friction are, such as fitting rooms, returns, the print center, etc.
There are literally dozens of methods of payment these days, ranging from good old cash to Apple Pay to Bitcoin. These payment initiatives are all interesting but are they actually improving your checkout processes, or complicating them? If a store’s execution of a point of sale transaction isn’t flawless, retailers might consider streamlining their payment processes instead of adding to it.