Sam Makad is a business consultant. He helps small & medium enterprises to grow their businesses and overall ROI. You can follow Sam on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.
Do you know how to increase sales by reducing friction in your store? If not, here's a hassle-free blog that helps you achieve this objective. Miss it at your own perils!
Think about the last fifteen years of eCommerce innovations that have had the most impact: one-click checkouts, single-page checkouts, social media eCommerce, eCommerce chatbots, and voice ordering with smart speakers like Amazon’s Echo.
What do they have in common? It’s not that they use hyped new technologies or introduce radically original shopping paradigms, although many do. Instead, innovations in eCommerce are all about making it easier to buy.
Friction is a jargon word that means “frustrating to use.” It represents how an eCommerce store can make a shopping trip less pleasant than it could be.
A store with a lot of friction is frustrating for shoppers to interact with. Friction is correlated with reduced revenue. To state the obvious, customers are less likely to complete a purchase if you present them with a challenging experience or ask too much of them.
But let’s talk
specifics. What effects can eCommerce merchants expect to observe on a
Reduced sales. The ultimate consequence of high-friction stores is that people buy less. The friction they’re willing to put up with is a function of the product's desirability. For a highly desirable product — an in-demand pair of sneakers, for instance — shoppers are prepared to put up with a lot of hassle.
The same is true of products that are rare. But for the normally desirable and available products that many retailers sell, friction kills the desire to buy. Shoppers know they can buy an alternative or shop elsewhere. They’re also less amenable to cross-selling and up-selling.
Fewer return customers. Return customers are more cost-effective than new customers, representing a considerable marketing investment. It has been shown that stores with more return customers are more profitable.
Customer loyalty makes a real difference to the bottom line. But a high-friction store with a poor user experience cannot expect customers to be loyal. The marketing team may be able to get customers to the store, but one bad experience can dissuade them from returning in the future.
Smaller carts. A fast and well-designed eCommerce store is a pleasure to use. A pleasant shopping experience encourages users to browse, follow suggested product recommendations, and engage with the site.
In contrast, at best, a frustrating shopping experience will encourage shoppers to finish their session as quickly as possible. They buy only what they need and are closed to serendipitous encounters with compelling products they didn’t know they wanted — and those impulse buys are what make for a healthy eCommerce bottom line.
1. Reducing Friction On eCommerce Stores
We’ve discussed the
effects of friction. They can be summed up in a couple of words: less money.
Now let’s turn to the causes of eCommerce friction and some possible solutions.
2. Poor Performance
Poor performance is probably the leading cause of eCommerce friction, especially for mobile shoppers. Poor performance manifests itself in slow-loading pages and excessive latency on interactive elements, including the shopping cart and checkout interface. Shoppers have become less tolerant of slow stores over time. Large online retailers, including Amazon, have invested heavily in performance, creating fast and responsive experiences. Smaller stores that don’t provide an equivalent experience are at a disadvantage.
Web performance is a complex topic, but tackling the low-hanging fruit should prioritize.
- Web hosting. An eCommerce store with inadequate disk space, bandwidth, memory, and processing power is slow under load. If your store is slow, consider upgrading to a more powerful hosting solution or migrating to a more capable hosting provider.
- Implement caching. Caching reduces the load on your eCommerce store by serving pre-generated content where possible. All leading eCommerce applications, including Magento and WooCommerce, including caching and can take advantage of advanced caching extensions.
- Use a content distribution network (CDN). A content distribution network uploads a store’s static assets to servers worldwide, including images and scripts. The assets are then served from the nearest CDN server to the shopper, reducing latency and the load on a store’s server.
3. Complex Checkouts
shopping, but no one enjoys the process of checking out when it involves
filling in multi-page forms. Convoluted checkout processes cause abandoned
carts and discourage first-time visitors from returning.
- Shorter is better. With the expiry of Amazon’s one-click patent, every eCommerce store can offer one-click checkouts for logged-in users. Plugins exist for most eCommerce applications, including WooCommerce, and Magento provides the built-in Instant Purchase module.
- Social logins can also reduce shoppers' time to complete their purchases. Social logins leverage single sign-on systems from Google, Facebook, and others to provide a quick and easy registration and authentication process. As a bonus, they also provide retailers rich information about their customers.
In addition to refining on-site checkouts, retailers might also consider off-site sales strategies, including sales via social media networks and instant chat, which can reduce the complexity of sales interactions.
4. Poor Quality Copy and Images
If you think of your store as a sales funnel, a journey with the checkout as its destination, on-page content is responsible for moving shoppers to the next stage of that journey. Shoppers need relevant and information-rich images, videos, and sales copy to make informed decisions. Poor quality content is confusing. It creates uncertainty. An uncertain shopper is less likely to make a purchase.
Many eCommerce retailers I have spoken to see on-page content as an afterthought. They prioritize offsite marketing content and design, neglecting on-page content. That’s a mistake. Site content can make an enormous difference to a store’s conversion rate.
There is no simple solution for creating world-class sales content. If you don’t have a flair for writing, hire someone who does. A professional copywriter can bring sales copy to life and ensure shoppers have the information they need for a friction-free journey to the “Buy Now” button.
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