While this change provides greater convenience, it creates the risk of disjointed and confusing buying journeys for consumers. To combat this, brands should focus on achieving ‘frictionless commerce’.
But what does this entail? What steps can brands put in place to ensure they engage the hearts and minds of consumers, wherever they are?
Expand your Zero UI offering
Zero user interface, or Zero UI, is essentially a catchall term for screenless experiences and is becoming an increasingly used shopping channel for consumers. While it may have kicked off with Amazon Alexa and Google Home, Zero UI is set to not only expand voice tech into chatbots and voice biometrics but is embracing haptic control and predictive thinking.
The latter of these developments will see Alexa move from passive to proactive discussions where the device makes suggestions for you and enables consumers to shop at any time effortlessly.
Innovations, such as predictive thinking, symbolise the shift from ‘specific’ to ‘exploratory’ shopping. Gone are the days when consumers shopped exclusively with etailers and retailers. Technology has made many touchpoints on the consumer journey shoppable and context is playing an increasing role in the shopper experience.
In other words, consumers now set the agenda of when, where and how they wish to shop and expect brands to keep up.
It’s par for the course in our connected ecosystem, so failing to expand your Zero UI offer is a self-inflicted handicap.
By not improving their screenless capabilities, brands risk creating barriers between consumers and locking themselves out of the channels the consumer occupies. And why wouldn’t you want to be where your customers are?
Prioritise social and m-commerce capabilities
Alongside Zero UI, brands need to prioritise their social and m-commerce applications. After all, in 2018 more than one-third of smartphone users aged 14 or older used their phones to make a payment at least once every six months at physical POS and 51% of consumers now profess to prefer mobile shopping over online.
With the advent of 5G, these figures can be expected to rise. Brands need to ensure their m-commerce and social purchase journeys are seamlessly integrated.
Fast fashion retailers, like Misguided or BooHoo, are leading this charge – they were quick to capitalise on the fact that the future of customer experience and engagement is on social networking sites. They’ve tailored their marketing to be as ‘insta-friendly’ and frictionless as possible. With Gen-Z connected online near-constantly and TikTok and Instagram launching in-app purchase options, the importance of s-commerce to engagement and experience is evident.
As social platforms continue to develop their infrastructure to cement their role in discovery-to-purchase, the power of those media to influence purchase decisions will undoubtedly increase. Brands now need to think beyond mere advertising – they need to occupy all stages of the social shopping journey with relevant engaging content and integrate a shopper focus into their strategy.
Maintain a consistent brand identity
Consumers now expect a unified and straightforward retail experience, where they can interact and buy easily through a multitude of channels.
The onus is on brands to create a unified and recognisable identity that is consistent across the numerous channels that consumers use.
The common factor in all these points is effort. Whether you’re buying or returning a product, the experience must be effortless – and customers are more than willing to give their loyalty in exchange.
But they also expect to be able to find a brand, select a product and purchase without facing any barriers. To meet these expectations, the future of customer experience has to be effortless, frictionless and integrated. We need to break the barriers between consumer and brand, while shopping experiences across channels need to promote a consistent personalised message.
By Tim Carter
Director of operations