Frictionless Commerce: How to Give Mobile Shoppers Instant Gratification

Frictionless Commerce: How to Give Mobile Shoppers Instant Gratification


Friction’s no fun. When we encounter it, we run the other way – which is obviously also the case when we’re shopping.  

Think about the things that toss sand in the gears when you’re shopping in a physical store. Unhelpful sales associates. Hard to find products. Long lines. Complex processes. They’re all conversion killers of the highest order.

Now consider the process of shopping online – particularly, with your smartphone. Tempting? Yes, of course. Impulsive? It sure can be. Easy and fun? Well, that’s the big money question here today.

And the answer couldn’t be simpler.

All’s good when it’s easy to find what you want to buy, and you’re able to speed through the purchase process. But, conversely, if you’re asked to jump through hoops, you’re bound to bail.

In this post, we’ll look at some of the savvy moves mobile marketers can make to remove friction from their eCommerce process, in order to ring-up more sales.

Buyers prefer shopping on apps

78% of users would rather shop via a mobile app than a mobile site.

According to an infographic and post by RubyGarage, a number of factors make mobile app shopping preferable, both to customers and sellers.

The graphic outlines how shoppers find mobile apps more convenient, faster and a better experience for many reasons. With apps, shoppers don’t need to remember URLs or log-in credentials.

Customers enjoy reduced response time, a simpler user experience, and personalized content.

And the reasons why sellers cash-in with mobile include:

  • Increased customer loyalty thanks to personalization, push notifications, exclusive content and reward systems
  • Increased conversion rates – App conversion rates are 3x higher than mobile sites and 1.5x higher than desktop
  • Lower cart abandonment
  • Higher average order value

Facebook aims to be a friction fighter

Facebook estimates that friction in online checkout processes cost U.S. businesses alone more than $213 billion in sales in 2019. A Facebook infographic, Building for a Zero Friction Future, highlights three primary friction points that frustrate would-be buyers:

  • Discovery friction – Problems include poorly targeted ads, information gaps, and poor landing page experiences.
  • Purchase friction  Cart abandonment results when buyers are unclear about availability and shipping costs and when checkout is too cumbersome.
  • Post-purchase friction – Post-sale problems are many, including: slow delivery, poor order tracking, poor service, complex return processes, and a lack of feedback channels, loyalty programs, purchase histories, and other options. 

The word is, as of September 2019, that Facebook aims to tackle a part of the problem with new ad features currently in testing:

  • An in-app checkout experience for those who click on dynamic Facebook ads introduces a native checkout process, whereby users can purchase without leaving the Facebook app
  • A new ad feature on Instagram enables advertisers to turn organic shopping posts into ads via the Facebook Ads Manager

Deep linking moves the mobile process along smoothly

A deep link is a URL which takes a user directly into an app, or a specific location within the app, rather than the app’s homepage.

“Deep linking has become a valuable tool marketers, agencies, publishers and eCommerce brands can use to create a better experience for customers,” said Brian Klais, CEO of Pure Oxygen Labs.

Pure Oxygen Labs has developed URLgenius, a solution that makes it simple for marketers and agencies to create deep links for any app, for use in any campaign, whether it resides on social media, in email, or any editorial content.

The fashion brand Rent the Runway embeds deep links in its Instagram stories that invoke specific product pages within its iOS app to facilitate the ordering process for customers.

Klais says that various platforms, such as Universal Links (from Apple) and Firebase (from Google), give developers the tools to create deep links, however they’re predominately for search. Also, technical skills are required.

The URLgenius solution provides a marketer-friendly, low-tech approach that anyone can use, so that a click invokes a specific page in a mobile app. If they don’t have the app installed, a webpage acts as the fallback. In either case, the idea is to reduce friction by removing steps that slow down the shopping process.

QR codes can deliver fast access

Last year, Amazon demonstrated how QR codes can be a powerful trigger for mobile commerce.

Amazon placed custom QR “smilecodes” throughout its holiday toy catalog, and a quick and easy scan essentially deep-linked shoppers into specific pages on the Amazon app where they could complete the purchase with a single click.

Amazon smilecodes

But you need not have Amazon-like resources to take advantage of this approach. Additionally, you can reduce friction in the shopping experience by using QR codes to invoke product reviews, chat, related products, video, personalized order histories, and more.

You can always make the UX better

Finally, we’ll examine some of the many ways you can improve your user experience to rid buyers of the pains they may encounter while shopping eCommerce sites with mobile devices.

Shorten the path to purchase

87% of consumers say that a complicated checkout process drives them away, according to a Splitit US Consumer Survey. The checkout form should be as short as possible and optimized for mobile.

Offer different payment options

Give people different options to pay. More options = more conversion. If possible, in addition to credit cards, accept debit cards as well as PayPal and Apple Pay.

Make shopping fun and interactive

Clothing stores offer dressing rooms, right? A fun – and often vital element of shopping – is trying things on. You can empower buyers to move from inspiration to purchase by delivering an augmented reality (AR) feature. What will this product look like on my body, my face, or in my home?

It’s becoming increasingly possible to answer questions like these with AR elements, with features that show, for example, what a certain pair of glasses will look like on you.

And as AR tools become more prevalent, brands that don’t offer them may end up losing out to competitors who do.

Be helpful

You can be a low-touch store allowing would-be buyers to help themselves, or you can be a high-touch store and proactively offer shopping assistance. Of course, you don’t know what degree of assistance a shopper may want, but if you offer no assistance, you’ll surely lose business to those looking for guidance.

You can help your shopper find a product to buy in many ways including:

  • Live chat
  • On-site search
  • Detailed category filters
  • “Most popular” product offerings
  • Related products
  • Product reviews
  • User-generated content
  • Interactive buying guides
  • Quizzes

Friction’s your foe

This post wasn’t meant to be the supreme encyclopedia of ways to cash-in on the mobile buying process. We’ve covered a number of ideas, but the big idea looms largest: to succeed in eCommerce you need to get serious about friction fighting.

You might take to the cause with your advertising techniques, linking strategies or onsite and in-app features. But take to the cause you must.

Attention spans are short. Buyers are unforgiving. Bounce rates and cart abandonment are painfully expensive.

Put yourself in the shoes (or phones) of your potential buyers and do what you can to make it easier, more fun, and faster to click the buy button.

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