From clicking links to adding payment information, retailers and consumers alike often complain of the bulky and unsavory process that is online shopping. Even with one-click checkouts and shoppable posts on social media, placing an order online can still be a pain. With the recent announcement of JetBlack, a startup out of Walmart’s technology incubator, many retail experts are pushing for a frictionless shopping experience for consumers.
Jetblack is an invite-only personal shopping subscription service that allows customers to shop via text message. Orders placed before 2 p.m. are eligible for same-day delivery with next-day delivery available for almost all other orders. Couriers are able to deliver items and pick them up for returns, normally in a tote bag.
The service is currently $50 a month and is being tested in Manhatten, New York buildings with doormen. There are plans to expand to Brooklyn in the near future. Jetblack is currently designed for urban areas, but a pricing model similar to Uber could be implemented at some point.
What’s being dubbed as “click-free” shopping seems to be aiming at removing virtually all friction in the buying process. Many experts advise retailers to get shoppers to products in two clicks or less, lest they risk losing sales.
In the brick and mortar space, major retailers such as Guuci are pushing for a focus on friction-full shopping, often referred to as “slow shopping.” This concept places an emphasis on the customer experience and discovery while looking for the right product. Jon Bird, Contributor at Forbes, recently detailed his experience at a newly opened, 10,000 square foot Gucci store in New York. “Dominating the center of the space is a hand-painted timber floor with comfortably upholstered couches, where I spied a customer sipping a glass of champagne while she tried on shoes,” Bird stated in his article.
This concept adopted by Gucci is a polar opposite of what a company like Jetblack is working on. Rather than optimizing the customer journey for “get in get out” purchasing, retailers want customers to savor browsing through their stores.
Which direction provides the most success for retailers? Do customers prefer ordering products with as little work as possible, or do they savor the unique experiences that brick and mortar retailers offer? The answer is that retailers must meet in the middle. There’s a time and place for fast, efficient, and frictionless buying, just as there’s a time and place for slow and friction-full purchase experiences. Whether you’re on a digital platform or running a physical location, it’s important to understand and adapt to the different preferences of today’s consumers.