Mar 01 2024

The Technology Retailers Need to Reduce Friction

Creating a frictionless shopping experience is key to retail success. These technologies can make it happen.

Retailers are striving to make 2024 the year for frictionless shopping. To do that, they must incorporate the latest technologies that people need to do their jobs without interrupting any lines of business, explains CDW Solution Architect Jonathan Freeman in a recent blog post. It’s an effort that requires streamlining processes, enhancing customer experiences and optimizing operations.

It also requires an understanding that friction can happen beyond the checkout line or online payment portal. It can occur at any point in the omnichannel shopping experience. According to Andy Szanger, director of strategic industries at CDW, “When we’re talking about the trends in retail, I think a big one is removing friction, not only from the customer experience but also from the employee or store associate experience, because if your store associate is feeling friction, your customer’s going to feel friction as a result.”

Here are some of the technologies retailers can use to reduce friction and frustration all around.

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RFID Tech That Improves Inventory Management

Radio-frequency identification technology enables retailers to track products throughout the supply chain and within stores in real time. This optimizes inventory management, minimizes out-of-stock situations, and improves overall supply chain efficiency — in part because automated inventory tracking with RFID is more expedient than manually checking store shelves and can achieve up to 99.9 percent inventory accuracy. RFID also helps retailers identify security vulnerabilities and run forensic investigations on theft.

With better inventory management, retailers can be more informed and coordinated at every point of the retail journey. For example, RFID embedded into smart shelves can improve in-store sales and enhance customer service, providing sales staff with real-time alerts if an item is running low.

DISCOVER: How IT modernization provides better outcomes.

Mobile Point of Sale Systems Offer Instant Checkout

Customers want convenience and speed, and mobile point of sale systems help retailers achieve both in one touch. Tablets or smartphones equipped with mPOS systems allow retailers to complete transactions anywhere in the store so that if a customer service exchange turns into a sale, for example, they can seal the deal instantly. This level of speed and ease removes friction in the payment process and prevents shoppers from waiting in long checkout lines, which 70 percent say is a source of frustration.

The ability to process transactions anywhere also reduces the likelihood that a consumer will abandon his or her cart or put back products they’re holding. Retailers also use mPOS beyond the storefront. For example, GNC stores have used mPOS to reach customers at marathons, obstacle races and other fitness events.

Retail IT Modernization TOC


Chatbots and Virtual Assistants Accelerate Customer Support

Chatbots and virtual assistants also improve the customer service experience. Available 24/7, artificial intelligence–powered chatbots and virtual assistants provide instant and automated customer support through websites, mobile apps, messaging platforms and other channels.

In addition to addressing customer queries and providing product information, “kinder” AI bots can offer individualized recommendations. This goes a long way in reducing friction and improving overall customer satisfaction. Business leaders in 2023 also reported a 67 percent increase in sales from chatbots.

READ MORE: 3 key considerations for developing a frictionless environment.


The percentage of consumers who say waiting in line is a source of frustration.

Source:, "Shopping Lines Still a Frustration Point for Consumers, July 2023

AI-Enhanced Data Unlocks Consumer Insights

“Retailers are witnessing a historic shift in the way consumers shop. Today’s consumers can easily compare prices, research products and make purchasing decisions that align with their lifestyle,” notes analytics platform provider Snowflake. This shopping shift has encouraged many IT leaders to use AI-enhanced data analytics so they can analyze more data at once and extract deeper insights.

Generative AI, for instance, is a staple in modern retail. It allows retailers to analyze historical data and predict consumer behavior so they can be more precise in their personalized shopping recommendations and their supply chain inventory.

If retailers are not sure where to get started with data management and analytics, CDW’s data services can help. Working with a tech partner, retailers can build a holistic data strategy that incorporates AI/ML solutions.

Beacon Technology Aids in Shopping Recommendations

Beacons are another tool that can reduce friction. These small, low-energy devices use Bluetooth technology to send signals to smartphones or other devices in proximity. Top retailers — including Macy’s, Target and CVS — use beacons to send location-based notifications, timed promotions and other alerts to nearby customers. Beacons can also help improve the in-store shopping experience.

EXPLORE: Check out these modern retail technology solutions.

“Just as ecommerce businesses like Amazon offer customers personal shopping recommendations based on previous purchases, beacon technology can do this in the context of brick-and-mortar stores,” notes Shopify. “Everything from coupons to deals to product recommendations can be tailored to individual customer preferences and shopping habits.”

Integrate These Solutions into Your IT Environment

These technologies can solve age-old pain points for retailers, such as inventory inaccuracies and customer support delays. For a shopping experience that’s smooth and synchronized, retailers must make sure their tech works in tandem and can fit into their IT environment. By using these solutions and consulting a tech partner, retailers can remove friction from their environments.

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