What is Frictionless Shopping and How is it Changing Buying Habits?
By Ben Grossman | February 10th, 2022 | eCommerce, Retail, consumer trends, contactless payments, frictionless payments
COVID-19 added urgency to consumer shopping trends that were already starting to take hold. Today, frictionless shopping is changing buying habits both in-person and online, and businesses that don’t adapt risk losing loyal customers.
Friction slows things down. That's great when you're going too fast, but not when you want a fast transaction to make things easier for customers. The focal point of frictionless shopping is optimized customer service. It's about eliminating anything that can get in the way of a smooth transaction. From initial contact in-store or online, frictionless shopping aims to eliminate any difficulties or pain points customers have shopping for items, adding them to a cart (whether physical or virtual), initiating checkout, as well as paying for and receiving their goods.
Massive e-commerce brands like Amazon have made essentially simple (or what some might even call mindless) shopping the status quo. It's just as important for small business owners of all sizes to adapt to keep their sales steady online and in their communities.
Common examples of frictionless payments are one-click pay buttons online and contactless payments in the store. Other examples include:
In 2022, how is frictionless shopping changing the game? Here are just some of the ways we see merchants adaption
Shops of all sizes are finding new audiences online. They're still drawing customers into their stores, but they're offering more ways to buy with an e-commerce component for the customers, who simply won’t shop without it.
Interestingly, the inverse is true, too. The pandemic took away brick-and-mortar shopping for a while, but it’s coming back strong. In fact, the demand for brick and mortar solutions has grown an average of 3 percent every year since 2016, according to Forbes. In the past 12 months, that number has more than doubled at 6.5 percent.
Brands like Amazon, Sam’s Club, and Albertsons all now offer checkout-free shopping solutions for customers. This technology uses cameras and sensors to monitor what customers take off shelves, then charges them after they leave, making the shopping experience, well, frictionless.
Seeing as brick-and-mortar business is worth over $5 trillion in America alone, it’s increasingly likely that this will become a more regular thing in stores across the nation.
Subscription members have been and continue to be a hot business model. Customers love them, but business experts and even scientists are noticing a trend where some people simply stop signing up for memberships—even ones they would like to have—because of a psychological phenomenon known as “subscription fatigue.”
Some consumers struggle to keep up with the number of subscriptions they have and feel that additional ones will only add headaches to their lives. Frictionless shopping methods are being used to offer customers who are either tired of subscriptions an alternative or to give them a sense of security that it won’t be a hassle they have to think about.
Nearly anyone who ordered something online or shopped in-store felt the force of shipping delays and other transit issues spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking online and driving to a store to pick something up, only to find out that it wasn’t in stock, was pretty much a norm for people at one point.
As businesses aim to make their model frictionless, experts are looking at ways to simplify and enhance the physical/digital divide. Real-time inventory updates, as well as an increase in contactless pickup and delivery, are two examples.
Talk about experiencing friction when shopping—try having credit card information stolen or databases breached. The increase in online shopping has been mirrored by an uptick in cybercrimes, especially payment fraud and identity theft.
Greater fraud prevention methods, such as real-time communication to avoid chargebacks from ever happening, help consumers and businesses feel confident when shopping online or in-person.
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