Blog : ecommerce

Eliminating friction

We are ice cream friendly

So much of marketing and sales is about creating and maintaining momentum. Think of how many times you’ve had the idea to make a purchase, had items in your shopping cart, been just about ready to check out – and yet somehow failed to seal the deal.

There could be any number of reasons why you failed to make that purchase. Maybe you got distracted by an old friend, forced into small talk. Maybe you saw two competing products and couldn’t make a decision between the two. Maybe you couldn’t find what you wanted and became so frustrated that you just gave up. In any case, momentum was somehow interrupted, and the beautiful chain of marketing>sales>purchase was broken.

Friction slows us down

By its very definition, friction is the enemy of momentum (remember high school physics?). It slows things down, makes us lose energy, and generally gets in the way of where you want to go.

Isaac Newton; marketing guru

Remember Newton’s three laws of motion? Let’s visit the first law, because in case you didn’t realize, its all about marketing.

  • An object that is at rest will stay at rest unless an unbalanced force acts upon it.

    This is the customer (it could be you). If you don’t know about the existence of product or service, you’re not very inclined to take an action or make a purchase. The smart marketer knows about you, can see you at rest, and do their best to put forces in place to break your resting state.

    These forces represent anything that move you forwards: great advertising, great targeting, relevant messaging, positive recommendation, pretty pictures, big promises. You get the idea.

    These forces give you velocity.

  • An object that is in motion will not change its velocity unless an unbalanced force acts upon it.

    The story doesn’t end with velocity, of course. Here’s where friction comes in; representing anything that slows you down or stops your forward progress: Bad in-store experience, misperceptions or misinformation in the market, fear and uncertainty, physical limitations etc. Again – you get the idea. You’ve been there.

  • Isaac newton; ice cream salesman

    I recently visited a craft and antique market, set up by the side of the road. It was set up in front of a house, under a tent on their lawn. Across the street was a dairy, which, among other things, sold ice cream to its customers.

    The antique market had one sign affixed to their gate, serving as their marketing vehicle. It said “We are ice cream friendly”.

    The owners of the antique market recognized that many of their potential customers were standing at their gate as they enjoyed their purchase from across the street. What they needed wasn’t more velocity… they needed to destroy friction. They succeeded.

    Making yourself ice cream friendly

    My company is currently working on redesigning a website for a client who sells and repairs bikes. We’re paying careful attention to friction, in efforts to make his business ice cream friendly too.

    We discovered that many potential repair customers are hesitant to bring their bikes in for repair, as they purchased them elsewhere.

    Focusing on increasing their velocity (“Great prices on bike repair!”) won’t push them to do something they feel isn’t possible.

    Focusing on reducing their friction (“We’ll fix any bike, regardless of where you purchased it”), will get them through the door (and hopefully back on the road).

    So much time, effort and money are spent on building up energy and increasing customer velocity. How much are you spending on minimizing friction?