How retailers can create a frictionless path to purchase

As a retailer, it’s important to understand which touch points along the buyer’s journey are causing issues for your potential customers. If you’re selling designer jeans, for example, they might think twice about whether the trendy pants you’re offering are actually worth the price. Of course, convenience is also a common friction point. If shopping isn’t straightforward and easy, most shoppers won’t hesitate to look elsewhere for what they need.

Taking the friction out of shopping

To help drive sales, retailers must do everything in their power to make the online shopping experience as frictionless as possible. That’s particularly important in retail, where, according to one study, shoppers abandon their online carts nearly 77 percent of the time. To avoid missing sales, it’s important to look at the pathways shoppers typically follow from the moment they first come to your site until they ultimately make a purchase. Some of the steps along the way might include:

  • Finding their way to your site

  • Browsing around it

  • Using the search bar to find a particular product

  • Clicking on links to learn more

  • Homing in on a particular product and adding it to their shopping cart

  • Checking out

Importantly, you have to assess all the reasons why a shopper could get derailed as part of that process and what you can do to make transitioning between those steps as frictionless as possible. In some cases, the answer lies in better UI and UX design. According to Forrester research, making improvements in these areas can increase website conversion rates by 200 percent and 400 percent, respectively. Simply making websites more intuitive to facilitate faster and easier purchases can go a long way.

But ease isn’t the only issue at play here. Sometimes buyers need an extra nudge to help get them over the line. If they’re price sensitive, for example, targeting them with a small discount at just the right point in their online experience could be all it takes to convert them into a paying customer. (You can read about how we helped our friends at Kanetix do just that, here.)

Harnessing AI and ML to create experiences that resonate

Intervening at customer touch points that prevent shoppers from achieving their goals is key. It ensures their experience is responsive and creates more value for your business. But to do that, you need to understand your buyer’s journey from top to bottom. That way, you can get a sense of where customers are currently getting stuck and places that might cause problems in the future. Once you’ve mapped out where to deliver interventions, figuring out exactly what they’ll be, whether that’s a discount, a free shipping offer, or any other incentive to help shepherd them down the path to purchase is absolutely critical.

Doing this manually is not only time consuming, it’s also incredibly difficult. A better approach is to use artificial intelligence and machine learning systems to help. With training data, the right systems will help you test out which interventions are most effective at getting your customers to where they want to go. Then, when you deploy in the wild, the systems will continuously learn, enabling you to better anticipate customer needs.


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