Welcome to The Zero Friction Future

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@vali.shah7Vali Shah

Software Engineer

Hello, It’s time to learn something new again. This time, I would like to start a new series as zero friction future and talk about the details and categories in which we see high consumer friction and the areas of improvement.
Before getting further into details. Let’s first understand what is zero friction and why do we care. Along with actual data references, I will include my personal opinion as well. Feel free to comment your perspective too.

What is Zero Friction Future? 

Facebook launched Zero Friction Future program with an aim to define, understand and solve friction in purchase journeys to unlock new avenues for business growth.
What if businesses could create a Zero Friction Future? The world is changing faster than we can keep up, and consumers today are inundated with choices of every imaginable kind. Digital connectivity has undeniably improved our lives for the better but it has in turn raised expectations as well. Consumers have more power and voice than ever before. They do not think twice about making a purchase across multiple channels and are less willing to suffer any inconveniences or invest more time to get what they want. 
Digital connectivity has raised consumer expectations. If the purchase journey is not friction-free, consumers will switch brands or abandon their purchase.
Friction can be defined as the pain point during the process of purchasing goods/services.“Every bit of friction gives consumers one or more reasons to drop away from not only your brand, but even your category”
Consumer experience is more essential in this age of instant gratification. 80% of consumers say that the experience a business provides is as crucial as its goods or services. 
Before seeing how a friction-free service/product would be. Let’s see how friction would look like. It may be an offline or online activity. Let’s list out a few high friction points every individual face day-to-day.
  • Need of reaching out to customer support for basic things (To change/update details)
  • Searching in-store for an item.
  • Filling in details on a physical or digital form. 
  • When you are put on hold, transferred to someone else and have to repeat your complaint or problem to numerous customer service reps.
  • Being stuck in a long checkout line.Dealing with traffic in a crowded parking lot. 
  • Expecting an item to be delivered on a certain day, and it doesn’t.
  • Long wait at the hospital, though you are on time for your appointment. 
Now, let’s see a few examples of friction-free service/product. 
  • Amazon one-click purchasing
  • Uber, flexible transportation and payment process. 
  • Digital banking to avoid carrying physical money/cards. (Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc)
Zero Friction Future estimates that friction from extra steps or delays in a consumer journey costs Asia Pacific businesses $325 billion every year.
Today’s consumers want everything now. Making every step or delay a chance for them will abandon their journeys. For your business to thrive in the future, you need to take action today. 
We can categorize friction into three distinct phases. Discovery, Purchase, Post-Purchase. Understanding these phases will help to determine what pain points particularly needed to be addressed to start towards Zero Friction Future.

Discovery Friction: 

The first phase of the consumer journey is discovery, This is when people take notice of your brand/product/service. In this phase, friction happens when people have to make an effort to find information about your offerings. 
Common roadblocks to discovery include slow speeds poor online or offline advertising and a lack of information. 
  • 55% of consumers wait for less than 5 seconds for a website to load before leaving
  • 93% say reviews influence their product choice

Purchase Friction:

The purchase phase begins from the moment a potential buyer has decided on what they want to the time of purchase is made. In this phase, friction can occur at any step starts from inventory availability to payment completion that hinders people from getting what they want.
When a consumer settles on a product, frustration from unexpected steps or fees can deter them from purchase. 
  • 25% of online shoppers abandon carts due to unexpected charges
  • 41% get frustrated when an advertised product or service is unavailable

Post-Purchase Friction:

The final phase of consumer journey covers all the touchpoints after purchase. It starts with delivery to repeat purchase. In this phase, friction refers to any pain point that people experience regarding fulfillment, support, and repurchase. This is a crucial phase as this enables the loyalty between your brand and consumer.
When consumers face slow delivery, poor technical support or problems with repeat purchases, they will look elsewhere.
  • 52% will switch brands because of poor customer service.
  • 66% switch if a brand fails to remember their previous interactions

Why Zero Friction is needed? 

Some businesses are already providing consumers with experiences that reduce or eliminate pain points that cause friction. These in turn are resetting consumer expectations, making them less tolerant of friction and more likely to switch to another brand or abandon their purchases entirely. As a result, businesses stand to lose the trust of existing customers, the attention of prospective consumers and billions of dollars in friction costs. 
Every business thrives to play a longterm game than the short-term benefits. According to Game Theory of business, A brand/product which builds a healthy relationship with the consumer with a declined friction curve tends to stay in the market for longer as a preferred brand/product for consumers. 

Conclusion

Taking initiative to reduce the friction in your product (or) service will enable you to earn the trust of consumers over your competitors. In this modern world, Trust should be your competitive advantage. Friction differs by category (or) industry. Understanding different phases of the consumer journey and taking steps towards improving the process will help in building Zero Friction brands for the future. 
Thanks for giving it a read. I will continue to choose a single category at a time and get into the details of friction points and how to avoid them to earn consumer trust. Feel free to comment and share your opinion. 
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