Friday, October 3

Frictionless Commerce

I'm a sucker for a good concept, especially one that gets me thinking.

Which is why I enjoyed interviewing Lisa Pearson, the CMO at Bazaarvoice, this week during Advertising Week here in New York.

She talked about the "frictionless" economy.  Given that their technology platform fuels customer comments, reviews, ratings, and content for e-commerce, then clearly she's an expert on the topic.

"Frictionless?"  I had to probe her on that one!

Basically, friction happens when the shopping experience is less than perfect.

Long lines, out of stock merchandise, inconsistencies between brick and click ... these all cause friction.

The other day I was at a home store and there wasn't a price on an item I was interested in buying as a gift for a friend getting married.  The sales associate couldn't locate the price, nor could she find the item on their website in order to look up the price.  I walked out empty handed, frustrated that I had to find the time to go to another store to get a gift.  Friction.

Now that commerce has gotten so complex across multiple off and online channels, there are a lot more moments for potential friction.  The interchange between physical retail stores and their e-commerce counterparts can be quite bumpy for a lot of brands.  While mobile can be a bridge, it's still less than perfect.

But it's happening.  Last year's sales on Black Friday left many brick and mortar retailers disappointed.  The data showed a new mobile phenomenon.  While people were running into the stores for door buster deals, they were researching on their mobile phones for better deals while they were physically shopping.

Here you have customers standing in your store, buying an item elsewhere on their mobile.  While they are standing in your store.  Friction.

Friction can cost you sales, and it can also dampen the relationship that your customers have with your brand.

Which is why marketers have to think about the total brand and shopping experience.

Marketers have to think about the complete and sometimes complex path to purchase and how to influence and create consistency every step along the way.  And how to reduce friction.

I honestly had never thought about it that way.  Friction.  It's a marketer's job to reduce friction.

I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.

What's your experience?  Is there any friction?  JIM.

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