Business Briefing: The Future is Frictionless #10

Harriet Nicholson
Harriet Nicholson
Head of Strategy 19 Jun 20204 minutes read

A round-up of the most important insights and what they mean for your business.

Frictionless futures

Welcome to this week’s Business Briefing! Each week we wade through the Covid-19 noise to unearth the most valuable insights for your business.

In this snapshot, we consider eCommerce’s future as shops reopen. We chart the rise of messenger platforms, not only as a customer service tools, but also as burgeoning frictionless payments solutions. Finally, we look at how gaming environments are being repurposed to fill physical interaction voids.  



Retail is repositioning around individual customers

If Asos shoppers were in a socially-distanced queue, it would stretch 891 miles. 

As far ahead as 2022, 17% of UK consumers expect to shop online for items they would have previously bought in store.

Why does this matter?

With non-essential stores opening their doors to lengthy queues this week, it would be easy to dismiss the last three months as a moment in time for eCommerce. Yet while some shoppers are returning to physical stores, others are not so sure. 47% of British consumers believe it will take months or longer for the way they shop to return to normal (EY). For others, this crisis has driven longer-term behavioural shifts in favour of eCommerce. We believe the future is more nuanced, with more symbiotic and seamless online and offline shopping experiences. In short, now is not the time to take your foot off the digital pedal.


KAYAK flight search trends suggest early signs of recovery

Google search trends nod to pent-up demand for UK hotel stays.

Travel brands turn to chat and messaging tools to ease pressure on customer service teams.

Why does this matter?

While search trends show tentative yet still promising signs of early recovery, would-be travellers are anxious – and that anxiety is overwhelming customer service teams with queries. Automation, chat and messaging tools not only help handle the deluge, they also improve the pre-arrival guest experience. Messenger contact is infinitely easier, faster, more intuitive and convenient than, say, email or phone contact.

Financial Services

Facebook launches WhatsApp digital payment service

Challenger bank Revolut gives clients legal ownership of cryptocurrencies.

Retail banking could experience up to three years of digital preference acceleration in 2020 alone.

Why does this matter?

Covid-19 has rapidly accelerated digital banking behaviours, meaning the future holds fewer branches, fewer call centre staff, more digital sales and servicing and more contactless payments. On that note, the WhatsApp and Nubank partnership is a sign of things to come - users can transfer money and pay individuals and businesses without leaving the app. A future of frictionless in-app payments is significant, not only for finance companies but also for retailers. What role does a banking app serve when payments are made via a social messenger platform?


The Sims helps players come to terms with the pandemic.   

Global Pride hosts a virtual Pride festival inside Animal Crossing. 

Singles turn to gaming for virtual first dates.

Why does this matter?

Covid-19 has not only changed the gamer profiles, it has changed game usage and purpose. With in-person contact restricted, gaming platforms have stepped in to fill a social void. They’ve played host to concerts, graduations and even funerals. The use of gaming environments for social interaction isn’t a niche behaviour confined to gamer fringes. GWI found that as many as 25% of those interested in online dating would like to play online games with a potential partner.


Each week, we pick a feel-good story that showcases human resilience and brilliance during a time of great change and innovation. So what have we loved this week?

Lost Stock

During the crisis, many major retailers cancelled orders for clothes that had already been produced. This left millions of workers in countries like Bangladesh unpaid. To save the clothes from landfill and support workers, retail app MallZee launched Lost Stock. A clothing box initiative, Lost Stock offers shoppers three mystery items based on their style preferences for just £35. Protecting livelihoods, preventing waste while tailoring to individual preferences – what’s not to love?


Every day we will be sharing key business insights on our social channels. Each week we will round up our daily posts into a pivotal weekly digest. And if that’s not enough, we’ll be hosting regular webinars to talk through what it means for your customers, your sector and your business. So, keep an eye out on our social channels for upcoming webinars.

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