This is another edition in our series Broken Commerce, examining practices that frustrate consumers and lead them to abandon purchases.

It’s great news when a potential customer discovers your product and wants to buy it. It’s bad news when anything slows them down.

The disconnect between discovery and purchase can result from a wide variety of broken commerce practices. Maybe someone abandons a purchase because they were annoyed by a long checkout process. Maybe they discovered your product on social, but that platform isn’t optimized for commerce — resulting in a long, uninspiring path to purchase.

Whatever form it takes, friction leads to a major losses in potential sales. A 2016 study found that friction cost 650 American e-commerce stores $147 billion in potential sales. That’s a huge number for such a small sample size.

Naturally, brands want to decrease friction as much as possible. Here are four ways to do so:

1. Shorten the path from discovery to purchase

Let’s say you post an image of a product on social but don’t offer much information about it. If a user has to comment on your photo asking what they’re looking at, they’ve already experienced friction. Now they have to scour the internet trying to find a place to purchase it — a process they’re likely to abandon.

How can you fix this? Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Is there any information missing when a customer discovers your product? How many steps does it take to go from discovery to purchase? Can you eliminate any steps?

Curalate makes commerce frictionless, everywhere. Want to learn more? Get a free demo today.

2. Streamline your mobile site

Mobile — with all its convenience — is actually a major source of friction. Consumers spend 67% of their digital time on smartphones, but only make 21% of their purchases on mobile. Sure, mobile shopping is on the rise, but it has serious limitations (like the annoying process of inputing payment details on a small phone screen.)

Make your mobile store more user-friendly by:

3. Show the customer exactly what they’re getting

Physical stores allow you to touch products, try them out, and easily find a store associate if you have questions. The products are laid out in a thoughtful, intentional way as to mimic real life.

The e-commerce experience often feels like the complete opposite, with a sterile images and a catalogue format that’s hardly intuitive. In fact, 22 percent of online returns are due to the product looking or feeling different in real life than it looks online. How can brands fix that?

  • For each product, include high-quality photos as well as lifestyle images showing exactly what customers will receive. (3D images are a great idea.)
  • Encourage customers to write detailed and accurate product descriptions — they’re huge for conversions.
  • Include a comprehensive FAQ on your website and offer robust support options such as live chat.

Also, keep an eye out for technology like virtual reality, augmented reality, personal-shopper AI and chatbots. They can give customers more comprehensive information about purchases.

4. Optimize the checkout process

Consumers send countless carts to the e-commerce graveyard — in fact, the average abandonment rate is around 70%. In the last mile of the purchasing journey, users still change their minds more often than we’d like. Here’s how to increase their confidence:

  • Ask for only the information you need. Consider, for example, whether you really need your customer to create an account before checkout.
  • Reassure your customer they’re making the right decision to buy. Conversion guru Bryan Eisenberg says you should reduce customer fear, build trust, and reinforce benefits. For example, you can explain why you’re asking for key information from your customer and emphasize that you offer free shipping.
  • Save your customer from having to enter payment info by giving them easy checkout options like Google Wallet, PayPal and Amazon Pay.

How can you reduce friction in your commerce experience? Partner with Curalate to connect discovery and commerce. More than 850 of the world’s most-loved brands rely on Curalate to power experiences that adapt to their environment and consumer — enabling commerce to be visual, contextual, and personal, wherever it occurs. Sign up a demo today.

One brand that’s had impressive results is Swiss chocolatier Lindt. The brand used Curalate to connect Instagram photos to blog posts, contest entries, recipes and product pages — leading to a 178% increase in clickthrough rate and a 156% increase in visitors. Learn more here.