Friction in a customer journey can make or break a business. It’s the unnecessary hassle, confusion, or delay that a customer encounters when trying to interact with your products or services. In this blog post, we’ll break down the concept of friction and show you how to identify and reduce it for a smoother and more satisfying customer journey.
The Crocs checkout debacle
Have you ever had one of those days where technology seems to conspire against you? I recently had one such adventure while trying to buy a pair of Crocs from their website. What should have been a straightforward online shopping experience turned into a trilogy of checkout failures.
After selecting my desired pair of cozy Crocs my shopping cart was bursting with rubbery potential. I proceeded to checkout and filled in my card details and clicked submit. But wait! Instead of a confirmation message I was redirected to their homepage. Did my order vanish into the ether? It was a true mystery of the digital age.
Whilst I had no confirmation email, I was wary about repeating the order in case it had gone through. Suppressing the image of said Crocs dancing a price-raising conga in my browser I waited a week then tried again.
And the same thing happened. Twice. The website stared back at me, as if to say, “Your Crocs are here, but you can’t have them!” In the end, I had to admit defeat and bought a similar pair on Vinted.
The lesson here? Friction costs you money. In the physical world friction stops motion. In the world of e-commerce it means abandoned sales.
Unpacking Vinted’s Success
Vinted is Europe’s top app for buying and selling used clothes. It has a €3.5bn valuation and it is growing fast. Its success provides a fascinating case study in the art of reducing friction for customers, especially in comparison to long-standing auction sites like eBay. Here’s how they do it…
It’s easy to sell
It’s free to list your item. This removes the main barrier all resale apps face – getting people to list their clothes for sale in the first place. Making listings free has turbocharged Vinted’s growth.
The listing process itself is simple: snap your item, then pick from drop down menus to categorise it.
Deciding what price to sell at is helped by automated pricing: the platform uses photo recognition tech to suggest a reasonable price based on what similar items have sold for. This is a game-changer for those new to online selling, as it eliminates a significant decision-making hurdle.
Vinted removes another common obstacle in the resale process by providing straightforward shipping solutions. Buyers select from predefined options and prepay for shipping through the platform. This eliminates the need for sellers to navigate the complexities of postage and shipping costs, making it hassle-free.
What’s more, sellers don’t have to print a label: you pack up your item, download a barcode then take it to your nearest parcel hub.
It’s easy to buy
The main barrier for buyers is finding what you want quickly. Vinted’s search function works surprisingly well. As sellers are forced to categorise at listing, buyers can find what they need far more quickly than other platforms.
Whilst you can ask a seller a question – for example clarifying size or condition – the user feels like they are buying from the platform rather than the seller. This is quite a contrast from social selling platforms which can involve an interminable back and forth with sellers who have not adequately described their items or marked them as sold. Mutual user ratings allow you to check on previous activity, reinforcing trust.
Buyers pay a “buyer protection fee” (a nice reframing of a service charge) which covers a refund if the item doesn’t arrive or is not as described. All of this reduces uncertainty, reinforces trust and minimises any lingering sense of loss aversion which could prevent a sale.
The bigger picture
What we’ve not mentioned is that buyers are getting some real bargains whilst reducing waste. The company estimate “for every 2.56 pieces of clothing bought on Vinted, the purchase of one new piece of clothing was avoided.” After completing a purchase buyers are told “Thank you for shopping on Vinted, where beautiful clothes don’t cost the earth” – providing positive reinforcement.
This is feel good consumerism which normalises and encourages buying second-hand.
Friction determines our behaviour more than we realise. The clever ways Vinted has removed friction makes buying and selling easier, boosting its success.