I just returned from the Connect Mobile Innovation Summit in Chicago. The keynotes, presentations and other sessions were fantastic.  I strongly recommend companies interested in creating or expanding their mobile and consumer engagement strategy attend in the future.  You will get tremendous value from the conference.

One of the sessions was called the Brain Exchange (good name!) and I moderated the topic around “Creating frictionless and immersive experiences.”  I had the privilege of collaborating with executives from fashion retailers and QSRs (Quick Service Restaurants), to eCommerce companies and SMS and mobile ordering solutions providers.

We started by defining exactly what “frictionless” and “immersive” mean, and then discussing the value for creating these experiences.  The discussion was fast and furious – a true brain exchange.  I’d like to share some of the creative thinking that came from this talented group of individuals.

Key concepts of Frictionless we discussed:

  • Easy/Simple/Intuitive – remove all “friction” from the process.  This included everything from performing a task on the mobile device to placing an order in the store.
  • For mobile applications specifically, think about reducing or eliminating the number of gestures to perform a task.

As an example, the mobile app could automatically launch using location-based services as the shopper enters the store and go immediately into “shop” mode.  Contrast that with what happens today: the shopper searches for the app tile, touching the tile to launch the app and then going to the menu to go into “shop” mode.  A good practice would be to count the number of touches, clicks and fields to fill to perform a task.  Too many of these = friction.

  • Saving time is the new currency.  Frictionless equates to faster.  Everybody wants to be more efficient.
  • Integrated data means leveraging the data to reduce friction.  Take data around prior orders, personal preferences, and offers the shopper has viewed.  Intelligently combining this information creates magic frictionless moments like pressing one button to order my prior pizza order or suggesting offers based on my preferences.
  • Finally, any consumer onboarding process to join a program must be simple and bullet-proof.   A common frictionless onboarding practice is joining a program using your Facebook account.  One button touch and you’re in.

Defining the key concepts of “Immersive” turned out to be more challenging.  However, after a little brainstorming, the ideas were flowing. The best included:

  • The experience should have a strong entertainment element.  To immerse oneself in the experience must be entertaining for the consumer to want to stay in the experience.
  • There should be perceived value after the experience is over.  The consumer should feel that the time was well spent and enjoyable.
  • For restaurants and retail, immersive experiences must be an integrated experience with the store.  The experience should generate the feeling that this is “my place” or “my buddies place.”

By combining the two concepts, we discussed how the entire experience should generate a brand feeling for the consumer of this is “My Brand,” very much like this is “My Favorite Sports Team.”

With that baseline understanding, we switched to exploring the benefits to both the consumer and the business by creating frictionless and immersive experiences.

From the consumer’s perspective, there are considerable benefits such as:

  • Saved time.   Consumers value their time, and are delighted by fast and efficient transactions. Saving time can be even more rewarding than earning loyalty points.
  • Enjoyment.  Experiences like we described can generate a feeling of invitation and a strong brand association.
  • Value.  A relevant and meaningful experience makes the consumer want to come back to experience the emotion again.

Frictionless and immersive experiences also translate into true business benefits:

  • Brand loyalty.  These experiences translate into more visits and a higher % share of wallet.
  • Larger transactions.  With more visits, happy consumers buy more and that translates to incremental sales.
  • Good references.  People want to share great experiences with their friends and that means acquiring new customers at no cost.
  • Higher store efficiency.  Frictionless experiences means fast for the business as well and that means more throughput.  More throughput means more orders per hour.

In my next blog, I’ll describe our discussions around how we can create frictionless and immersive experiences.