It’s no secret that millennials are a hot commodity for retailers. Numbering over 80 million—about 25 percent of the U.S. population—millennials have an annual buying power of $200 billion and will account for 30 percent of all retail sales by 2020. In addition to the imposing size of this generation, millennials are also trendsetters and influence the purchasing decisions of many other demographics, so it’s no wonder that retailers are working hard to woo them.
Winning the hearts and minds of millennial shoppers starts with understanding what makes them tick. First of all, millennials prize a seamless shopping experience above anything else. As the first generation to grow up with a smartphone in every pocket, mobile commerce is second nature to them. They expect to be able to seamlessly move from digital to physical channels—and back—without missing a beat. And while much has been made about their propensity for mobile shopping, the majority of millennials still prefer to shop in stores. In fact, one study found that 81 percent of millennials prefer to buy in-store than online.
This is all good news if you’re a brick-and-mortar retailer that has embraced omnichannel. Implementing the right omnichannel initiatives can help you attract, engage, and convert millennial shoppers today, and enable you to win their business for life. It all comes down to creating authentic, personalized experiences that resonate with this powerful demographic. Millennials value shopping experiences that include:
- Coupons: Millennials are more apt to search for and be receptive to deals on mobile while shopping in-store, so push notifications are especially effective. In fact, mobile coupons help drive millennials’ loyalty, with 75 percent saying they would switch to a retailer that delivered real-time discounts to their smartphones while they’re shopping in-store. When you consider that only 40 percent of companies use mobile coupons but nearly 100 million U.S. adults redeemed mobile coupons last year, you have a prime opportunity to differentiate your business and increase sales by offering millennial shoppers the deals they’re seeking.
- Social media: Social media marketing can be very effective with this group, but you have to realize that it isn’t a one-way street. Millennials crave engagement and expect retailers to respond to them, so successfully using platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter requires consistent interaction. You should also consider sending out current offers directly via social media. In a study by the CFI Group in 2015, 39 percent of respondents said they expect this type of direct contact. Millennial shoppers also believe that they have a responsibility to share their retail experiences—both good and bad—on social media. When these experiences aren’t positive, you need to respond quickly and proactively. Often, the simple act of letting them know that they’ve been heard goes a long way towards building trust and loyalty. In fact, according to a consumer study by Radial and CFI Group, 75 percent of those who share a bad experience on social media expect a response from the retailer. The timing of the response is also important, as 66 percent of those who expect a response want it on the same day of the original posting. Another 30 percent said they would expect the response by the following day. These statistics underscore the importance of monitoring social media and responding to applicable feedback.
- Reviews: When considering whether to make a purchase, millennials place a significant amount of value in the reviews and opinions of others. They seek out reviews on retailers’ websites, turn to social media to see how customers use and react to products, and ask friends about their beliefs and attitudes as well. Seventy percent of millennials say they’re more excited about a product when their friends approve of their decision to buy it. You can attract more millennial shoppers by making customer reviews widely available across a variety of platforms to assure them that they’re making the right purchase.
- Live chat: Omnichannel customer care is also important to millennials. They want the option of choosing when, where, and how to seek support, and live chat meets their needs more often than not. Sixty percent of millennials prefer live chat over traditional channels to get their basic customer support questions answered, citing convenience and limited hold time as their top reasons for using this channel. Since live chat is also easily delivered via the mobile devices millennials are already using to shop, they’re more likely to engage with you on this channel when they need assistance as well.
- Self-service: Millennials grew up using online and self-service solutions, so it’s no surprise that 70 percent expect company websites to include self-service applications. At the very least, your site should include a troubleshooting guide, a FAQ page, and a community forum where customers can ask and answer questions. Product videos are also useful for helping millennial shoppers discover the answer to their problems. In-store, self-service kiosks enable them to quickly find and purchase products without the help of store associates, reducing the time spent waiting in lines. Ultimately, by enabling them to self-service, you empower millennial customers and deliver the kind of immediate and convenient shopping experiences they desire.
- Payment options: The quality of their checkout experience influences whether millennials will return to do business with you, and enabling them to pay in a variety of ways is an important part of this experience. Millennials prefer shopping with retailers that offer a wide range of payment options, with digital alternatives taking priority over traditional methods. One study found that 44 percent of millennial shoppers prefer to pay for small items using their smartphones instead of cash, and that 62 percent would like to be able to connect their payment information to the app of a retailer with whom they frequently shop. Adopting new payment solutions such as mobile wallets can help you differentiate your business with millennials and improve their overall in-store and checkout experience.
- Social policies: Millennials care about your values as a company. They expect the brands they support to be good corporate citizens, and they place great importance in how their beliefs and causes coincide with the companies they support. Seventy-five percent of millennials believe it’s important for a company to give back to society in addition to making a profit, so if you want your brand to resonate with this influential group of consumers, it’s time to start spreading the word about a cause you’re passionate about. Consider implementing a creative social media campaign that inspires and engages millennials by linking your brand with your cause, and then roll it out across all of the channels they use to connect with your business.
If you just read the headlines, you might be tempted to only focus on mobile to attract millennials. But the mobile channel only tells part of the story. To truly connect with millennial shoppers, it’s important to maintain a balance between in-store and online initiatives. Like most consumers, millennials simply want the most seamless, personalized, frictionless shopping experiences they can find. As their buying power continues to increase in the coming years, retailers with strong omnichannel initiatives that appeal to millennials’ shopping preferences will emerge as industry leaders. If you want to be one of them and need help implementing omnichannel strategies that delight shoppers from every generation, contact Radial today.