Friction Free With New Priorities

According to Gartner: “By 2025, organizations offering unified commerce experience, by moving customers, without friction through purchase journeys, will see at least a 20% uplift in total revenue.”

But this isn’t the true picture for me. Whilst the global retail industry might be worth around $27 trillion this year, owing to the rising costs of living, stagnated wages, and spend restraint, the actual retail wallet share is only marginally increasing (if at all) in 2022.

And as part of this conservative lift there is the impact on the consumers change in priorities; with 48% of people being interested in their health and wellbeing. A significant rise on previous years. This provides an opportunity for an upward trend for those retailers that tie their marketing and values in line.

So the secret balance retailers need to meet is building that smooth journey with touchpoints that engage across new priorities. Retailers that set a defined path around this distinct move in customer behaviour, will win out over those that stay on a more generic path.

This isn’t old news – retailers who put their customers concerns first will always find the greatest opportunities. But how does a business do this in a focussed way? Well, focus comes when you know what’s working and frankly what needs to be abandoned.

But then also when considering channels for this ‘friction free journey’ and where to engage globally, the desire for the in-store shopping experience remains strong. The all-important in-store sensorial experience still plays a crucial role with 47% choosing this channel, with the ability to touch, feel and try the product cited as the top reason for consumers to choose a product. The convenience of taking the purchase home instantly tracks in second at 46.6% and the ability to browse and discover new things 36%. This also isn’t new but it is telling. Shopping is an experience that hits on a number of human emotions and desires.

It still stands that retailers will absolutely have to wow the consumer through all their channels, all of the time. While also bringing honest, softer experiences that dial up sociographic trends. The wallet share will be won or lost when retailers meet the ‘goldilocks effect’. That perfect balance of customer desire, value positioning and mastering their journey and as part of it the correct channels.

And with the established norm of digital disruption staying for good, retailers who understand and change their mindsets to technology being the primary enabler will win. At the cost of those that are spinning their wheels and dithering on making decisions.

This will be done in part by empowering the technology teams to try, fail, and learn without recrimination. As Amazon would say ‘fail fast and if you aren’t failing you aren’t trying’. Of course all this would be done in collaboration with the business, so the window for turning innovation into reality is made as small and frictionless as possible. But failure, or let’s call it ‘testing’ is essential as part of measurement and finding the sweet spot. Into this comes the need for reporting that is clear, accurate and provides quality analytics on which to fine tune and build that perfect retail experience that Gartner refer to.

This of course is where we get passionate and where we drive our customers. By keeping the end shopper experience always top of mind, and enabling that clarity for our customers to make decisions about what works and what simply doesn’t. Satisfaction for us is when we know sales and marketing have the clearest picture to build the friction-free journey!

As a result of this challenge, I expect to see further seismic shifts in the industry this year. More investment into disruptive technologies (hello Metaverse!), more M&A, and more bankruptcies to boot. Because someone has to win and someone has to lose.

So, this year is more about adopting an even less risk-adverse approach to technology and making sure that the experience sticks with the consumer throughout all their interactions to create advocacy and loyalty.

Because those fine margins will be the difference between success and failure. And failure on a grand scale will mean curtains for some retailers.