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Frictionless commerce - what other businesses can learn from the retail sector

Frictionless commerce -  what other businesses can learn from the retail sector

By Ryan Hollenbeck, VP at Verint

Industry analysts Forrester predicted that in 2013 5% of total online revenues would occur through mobile devices but, by the close of the year, many online retailers reported that their mobile revenues were more than double this figure. Evidently the way we interact has, and is, drastically changing, and so platforms such as social media and mobile are quickly paving the way to smoother, quicker, and easier transactions. From f-commerce and mobile payments, to virtual wallet options and NFC, frictionless commerce is becoming widespread. This is not only creating a quick and easy way to pay for goods and service, but changing the entire customer experience and transaction process.
Right now, retail is leading the way in this space, but what is the opportunity for other sectors? You only have to walk down your local high street to see retailers’ steps towards mobile. For example, you can pay for a sandwich at a café with a tap of a card at a contactless terminal. In some stores, you can even leave your wallet at home and pay by swiping your mobile phone. Although retail is dipping its toe in the water, other sectors such as finance, utilities, and mobile phone providers shouldn’t lag too far behind, and in some areas progress has already been made. For example, most banks have a personalised app, allowing customers to view their account, pay bills, and easily transfer money securely between accounts. And healthcare services and gyms are also encouraging members to process membership fees via mobile.
But this is just the beginning. Frictionless commerce encompasses multiple technologies, and businesses cannot rely on a one-size-fits-all approach. By looking at their audience and understanding their wants and needs, businesses can work out how best to target certain customers and via which channels to determine what technologies work best for them. It is now possible to capture numerous sets of data to better understand the voice of your customer, whether it be social media interaction, web chat, emails, texts, and survey responses, in addition to transactional data and web visit statistics. This treasure trove of information can offer the key to unlock valuable insights in to your customer’s true wants and needs. We recently found that only 24% of customers believe that companies take notice of their views, so it’s vital that companies show they are listening and acting on what they say. This will make them feel more valued and enhance brand loyalty.
Change is never without challenges. There are a number of potential barriers for businesses; customers can be sceptical of security and are often sensitive and frustrated by inconsistencies across engagement and payment channels. Businesses must look to win the trust of the customer by having impermeably secure technology that protects personal data. In addition, mobile technology must be seamless as glitches are proven to disgruntle customers – research shows that 66% of those who have used their smartphone or tablet to make purchases abandon the transaction due to problems with the payment process. Once customer trust is gained, businesses must also ensure that effective communication and marketing campaigns educate users on the new service and payment methods available to ensure maximum possible awareness and use.  
As businesses start to embrace frictionless commerce, an additional consideration is planning the right resource and skill requirements in advance of demand. Technology shifts and new platforms will require a workforce that has the time to get to grips with and resource demands – training, time and forward planning are the key points here. For example, if mobile wallets are to play a large role, businesses must ensure mobile and tech experts are on hand with a comprehensive understanding of the platform to ensure the smooth running of applications and to quickly and sufficiently deal with any customer problems that arise.
The retail sector offers inspiration to wider consumer and even business facing organisations, but the approach and adoption will vary greatly. Frictionless commerce opens up the consumer experience to convenient, quick, simple and flexible ways to purchase goods and engage with brands – directly supporting the new transactional world in which we live. This is a relatively new market with a long road ahead, but by staying ahead of the collection and interpretation of this new wealth of data to really understand what makes your customers tick, the journey will be much smoother.

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