Most people experience some form of friction everyday. It can be a simple aggravation, like purchasing a device that doesn’t come ready to use out of the box. It can also be something more impactful, like a mailed check that’s been delayed because its sender didn’t affix a stamp. These daily aggravations add up, so companies must be careful not to inadvertently add to this friction in the lives of their customers through errors or inefficient processes.
On the other hand, when friction is reduced in a transaction, it has a positive snowball effect that goes well beyond the original transaction. For example, the other day I was preparing for a business trip and decided it was time to purchase a new piece of luggage for the journey. I logged on to an e-commerce website I regularly use and perused the site’s luggage department.
Amazon’s automated recommendation engine kicked in and suggested an item based on similar purchases I’d made in the past. It also let me know that this piece of luggage would qualify as a carry-on bag. The friction of shipping expenses was also eliminated by Amazon, as it offered free shipping on this specific item. I made the purchase, was happy as a clam with my new bag on the business trip, and I’m now sharing my frictionless experience online—surely a validation of Amazon’s frictionless approach.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Amazon has devoted considerable resources to studying customer-based friction. Its strategy is to understand the causes of friction so that, ultimately, it can be reduced or eliminated as a pain point for its customers. According to Kintan Brahmbhatt, Amazon’s Director of Product Management, Amazon’s goal is to “anticipate those friction points in the customer’s mind and alleviate them quickly.”
It’s an objective that’s not only related to, but also conjoined with, Tungsten Network’s mission of reducing the friction between buyers and suppliers. For those who deal with friction in the global supply chain, it’s a reminder that friction is a problem for consumers as well as producers—that it exists at the very endpoint of the supply chain as well as in the middle. How Amazon addresses the friction in consumer transactions and how Tungsten Network addresses the friction in supply chain transactions are really part of one common goal—a frictionless world.