How well do you know millennial shoppers?
By now most retailers should be familiar with the millennial shopper:
- 80 million U.S. consumers born between 1980 and 2000
- The first truly digital generation, they are “more wired, more community conscious, and more skeptical of traditional business practices” than previous generations.
- They spend $600 billion annually on goods and services.
- They are savvy value shoppers, relying on peer recommendations, online reviews and “show-rooming” to get the best prices.
- They prefer to spend money on experiences, not “stuff;” many don’t see themselves ever buying a car or a TV.
But what’s really interesting about millennials is not what they buy, but where they buy it. They don’t distinguish between physical and online stores. For them, e-commerce is local commerce. When it comes to shopping, convenience is the most important thing.
Adapting to a new shopping paradigm
A perfect storm of advancing technologies and shifting consumer preferences is changing our whole notion of what it means to “go shopping.” When customers don’t distinguish between “in store” and “online”, it’s time for retailers to rethink everything from marketing to CRM and POS systems to inventory management and distribution.
According to Forbes, leading retailers are using new technologies to lower transaction costs, safeguard their supply chain, and up their digital advertising game. Mobile payment options, “cryptocurrencies” like BitCoin and Blockchain, and integrated marketing and sales enablement platforms are fundamentally altering the relationship between buyers and sellers. As a result, customers expect to get exactly the products they want, when they want them, at a price they are willing to pay. That’s the very definition of convenience.
Why it’s not time to count a local storefront out of the mix
Digital natives don’t identify brands as “online” or “traditional,” but that doesn’t mean they’re all cut from the same cloth when it comes to shopping.
While there’s a clear bias toward researching goods and services online, a majority of millennials still make most of their purchases offline. According to Richard Kestenbaum of Forbes, “about a third of Millennials make the majority of ... purchases on a desktop computer, and only 16% make most of their purchases on a mobile phone.” That means 51% are still making purchases the old-fashioned way, in a face-to-face physical retail environment.
So how does a direct or e-commerce merchant satisfy the needs of all their millennial customers? As always, start by putting yourself in their shoes:
- If they want to research and compare products online, make sure your website is current and easy to navigate.
- If they want to order online but pick up their purchases on the way home from work, make sure you have a convenient physical location close to where they live.
- If they want you to deliver to their door but return unwanted items in person, make sure your customer service meets their expectations.
The lines between direct, online and traditional sellers are blurring. If your goal is to make shopping as convenient as possible for your customers, you need to start thinking about what it would look like if your business was truly omni-channel and operating both online and in the physical world.
Are your current IT systems enough? Do you know where to locate a local pick-up center? Does your team have the time — not to mention the experience — to take on a major real estate project?
To learn more about why and how you can transform your business with a fully branded local sales center, read our latest white paper, “Solving the Last-Mile Problem for Direct Sellers.”
- Last-Mile Customer Service Can Make or Break a Customer’s Experience
- 4 Consumer Trends Impacting the Direct Selling Industry
- As More Retail Shutters, In-Person Customer Service Will Become a Differentiator for Direct Sellers