Last updated: March 4, 2022 Top 10 friction points in the customer journey and how to fix them

Top 10 friction points in the customer journey and how to fix them


As a retail professional and enthusiast, I’m consistently presented with some critical friction points in the customer journey that, if removed, would:

  • Drive better experiences
  • Increase conversion rates
  • Better overall financial performance in the digital space

So what are the friction points in the digital customer experience, and how can you fix them?

Rough road ahead: 10 Friction points in the customer journey

10. Remember the 3 Click Rule: The customer should land on a shopping (or list) page within 3 clicks at most. Recently I was on my phone shopping for some new shoes – when on the navigation menu, I clicked on women’s, then footwear, with the following options being New Arrivals, Boots, Ankle Boots, etc.

Any of these, when clicked, sent me to a shopping page. This is proper execution of the 3 click rule. The point is to get customers to a shopping page as quickly as possible – don’t force them to make too many choices, dig for products, or dive down into too many subcategories to find what they want.

Conversion is predicated by a frictionless experience. The less friction in the experience, the better customers will respond by converting.

9. Generic Email Execution: Like most consumers, I despise being bombarded by a plethora of emails that don’t relate to my interests or recent browsing history. This is a significant miss by many retailers, and it can lead to massive unsubscribes.

Instead, use email subject lines that will resonate and content designed to encourage click-through. Recently browsed items that are now on sale or similar product recommendations within the same category are simple ways of doing this.

8. Lack of Inventory Visibility: Today customers want their products immediately, so being able to filter by product availability for their store is important. Otherwise it inhibits customers’ ability to properly filter and search and get to products quickly.

7. Poor Customer Service: More than half of Americans have forgone a planned purchase or transaction due to bad customer service, according to a survey conducted by American Express.

If a customer has a product or delivery question during their online shopping journey, they want it answered immediately. Chat functionality should include seamless product suggestion/ sharing capabilities, allowing agents to provide personalized product suggestions and excellent service.

6. Minimal Product Content: This is table stakes in retail today, with product content style guides necessitating what information is required for publishing on site (generally inclusive of a description, specs, materials, dimensions, number of images, image angles, etc.).

However, one subindustry within retail where product content requirements are evolving quickly – and rightfully so – is in grocery. From a best practice perspective, grocery product detail pages should include nutritional information, ingredient lists, solid product descriptions, and at least 2 product specific images.

These are the expectations of customers, anything less presents friction points in the customer journey and results in lost customers and business.

5. Unclear Delivery Information: Like me, more consumers shopped online this season and what we all want to know is “when is my package going to arrive? Tell me! Don’t make me guess about shipping business days, packing days, just tell me on what exact date my package is going to arrive on – and make it so!”

Best practice when it comes to communicating delivery dates is to do it early and do it often – so that there is no confusion or friction for the customer around delivery expectations.

4. Inaccurate & Dysfunctional Search: Searchers are different from browsers. For this reason, customers utilizing search should be presented with extremely intuitive, easily found, predictive and accurate search functionality with suggested product images.

3. Lack of Customer Reviews: According to Gartner L2, customer reviews can increase conversion by 133% – they are a big deal! Without them, customers may be inclined to abandon their purchase and/or shop elsewhere.

Following best practice when it comes to ratings and reviews requires that sortable/searchable functionality be included along with an overall rating summary.

Most importantly, customers should be able to upload user generated content, showing the products being worn or in use.

2. Multi-Page Checkout: While this may seem minor, the impact that this friction point can have on conversion rates is significant. I know from experience that optimizations here can have a 15% or more positive impact on checkout conversion rates.

Best practice is to have all fields (shipping, billing, payments, review) included on a single page, broken down by steps. You should make the checkout process as seamless and as FAST as possible for your customers.

They’ve already committed to making the purchase at this point – don’t make them click multiple times, confuse them, or present new information in this step to distract them from completing their purchase.

1. Poor Site Performance:  Brands large and small continue to struggle with being able to deliver performant sites during peak traffic hours of holiday.

Our friends at Akamai tell us that when mobile site load time increases from 1 second to 3, conversion rate reduces by half and bounce rate increases by 6%. These are pretty staggering numbers, backed by the frustrations we all experience in our personal shopping experiences.

Thanks for checking out my list of top friction points in the digital customer journey. And please, let me know if you think I missed something that you think should be in the top 10!

Shine in the moments that matter.
Download our white paper on creating a great CX HERE.



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April Tomlin

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