What is a ‘Frictionless’ Retail Experience and How Does POS Help?

31 August 2022

‘Frictionless’ is one of those buzzwords you hear used all over the retail industry right now. Everyone’s trying to give their customers the most frictionless experience, or make checkout frictionless, or build a frictionless ecommerce site etc.

But what exactly does it mean? Why all the buzz around it, and how do you achieve it?

The concept of frictionless comes from ecommerce. Or more accurately, it comes from the world of software development, specifically around interface design.

Think of any kind of software you use, whether it’s a website or an app or a platform on your computer. What’s the most annoying thing that can possibly happen when using any kind of software? Glitchy performance? Poor navigation, so you’re never clear how to get from one place to another, or it takes too many steps to do so? Poor on-screen layout, so everything looks muddled and gets in the way of doing what you need to do?

Frictionless software development is all about removing these impediments – about making everything as simple, straightforward and intuitive for the user as possible. It’s about removing anything that is unnecessary – why have five steps if a process can be completed in two? But also about making sure that everything works to the optimum possible level.

Another way of thinking about frictionless design is that it looks at things from the end user’s perspective. The first principle is what makes things easier and better for them.

Giving customers what they want

This is something that retailers can really get behind. We operate in an industry where the customer’s needs always comes first. That’s what has long driven the retail sector’s preoccupation with service, branding, merchandising and so on – delivering exactly what customers want, when and how they want.

Frictionless is just another extension of this. It means taking away some of the common pain points that customers complain about, making the whole shopping experience more enjoyable and satisfying.

Take queuing, for example. Hands up who likes to wait in line when they go to a store, whether they are buying groceries or waiting for advice on buying a new vehicle? No, thought not. Not many of us.

Wait times are a key target for creating a frictionless retail experience. Everyone’s idea of a good shopping experience is to go to a store, find what they want quickly, get advice from a clerk as and when they want it, pay and leave as soon as possible. No lost time, no frustrating waits.

That’s a big reason why so many retailers are investing in new types of POS hardware to add to their system – equipment that helps them create that frictionless experience. Take mobile POS tablets, for example – perfect for reducing wait times by taking service direct to the customers as and when they want it. They can be used for queue busting when lines build at checkouts, in effect creating temporary payment processing points. But they also help take service to another level, empowering your people with full access to the company systems when they approach a customer so they can quickly and casually answer any question they might have.

The same applies to kiosks. Commonly deployed to provide self-service checkout options to reduce wait times, kiosks also make great information points that customers can use as and when they want. That’s ‘frictionless’ service in the sense that they don’t have to wait around for anyone to help them.

So by a ‘frictionless’ experience, we’re really just talking about things retailers have long strived to give their customers – convenience, simplicity, quality service. What’s exciting is all the tech support retailers now have at their disposal to deliver, starting with POS.