In the context of a SaaS product, friction can be defined as any obstacle that prevents a potential customer from completing the purchase process. Friction delays the purchase process or increases the chances of drop out before purchasing the product.
Friction in path to purchase can take many forms, and here are the top three.
- Functionality deficiency
- Usability obstacle
- Cognitive burden
Functionality deficiency refers to a situation where the product lacks certain features or capabilities that are needed by its users. This can prevent customers from buying the product when they do not find essential if not full range of feature they require.
It is necessary for a product manager to identify the functionality gaps and address them sooner. To gain product adoption, product managers can focus on creating functionality advantage that are missed by competitors.
Examples of functionality advantage:
Evernote: One of the key functionality advantages that Evernote had over other note taking apps when it first launched was its support for a wide range of different content types, including text, images, and audio recordings, and could also create checklists, to-do lists, and reminders. You can just throw a bunch of different content in Evernote and that becomes one of the pioneer feature compared to other note taking apps. Later on, OneNote, Bear, Notion started to adopt those features as well.
While treating functionality advantage as one of the trait for wining competition, it cannot last longer as the competitors soon will adopt them as well.
Usability obstacles negatively impact user experience and ultimately hinder the purchase decision of the product. Product managers require to focus on providing simple and powerful user experience rather than settling for the solution that are available and mediocre.
Examples of product that improved usability:
Swiggy food delivery app solves one of the important usability obstacles before its competitors was providing real-time order tracking for customers. Before Swiggy, most food delivery apps in India did not provide any way for customers to track their orders in real-time. This meant that customers had to wait for their orders without any visibility into the delivery process.
Swiggy’s real-time order tracking feature allowed customers to see the progress of their order from the time it was accepted to the time it was delivered. This feature helped to reduce anxiety around food delivery. Swiggy’s competitors like Zomato, Uber eats quickly followed suit and began offering real-time order tracking as well.
Cognitive burden refers to the mental effort required to understand and use a product effectively. Too many information may cause a user distracted at the point of conversion and increase the chances of abandoned cart.
Product managers needs to make sure the only the information that is valuable to users are shown and cut down anything that is not helpful to reduce the cognitive overload.
How Amazon reduced cognitive burden ?
Amazon first introduced One-click payment back in 2000 which reduced the friction in buying process and helped in increased revenue. By allowing customers to complete a purchase with a single click, Amazon has eliminated the need for customers to enter their payment and shipping information every time they make a purchase, making the checkout process faster and more convenient. This streamlined checkout process has led to increased conversion rates, with customers more likely to complete a purchase when the buying process is quick and easy. Additionally, the ease of the one-click payment system encourages repeat purchases, as customers are more likely to come back and buy again when the buying process is hassle-free.
After Amazon’s success with one-click purchase, Apple, Walmart, Target, and more companies started to adopt them.
To conclude, lack of essential functionality, poor user experience and cognitive burden increases the friction in path to purchase. The more friction in path to purchase will increase the cost of customer acquisition and ultimately diminishes the product premium value.
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