Why should ecommerce retailers pay attention to millennials? Because there are a whole lot of them—about 75 million. And they have an estimated $600 billion to spend annually! This is a golden opportunity and ecommerce retailers should seize it.
Born between 1980 and 2000, millennials— also known as Generation Y— are the first truly digital generation. So what does that mean to retailers? And how can you take advantage of what Accenture projects will become a $1.4 billion market by 2020?
As an ecommerce retailer, you already meet criteria No. 1: You’re online, where millennials like to shop. Presently, only 50.5 percent of retailers have an online presence, according to a survey of more than 1,000 millennial shoppers and retailers conducted by Merchant Warehouse and Retail Pro International. That means you’re already ahead of the game.
Just having an online presence isn’t enough, though. Millennials expect an integrated, seamless experience across all of their devices—especially their smartphones, which are the millennials’ preferred shopping method. They use their phones for researching products and prices, reviewing products, participating in promotions, and purchasing via phone.
Retailers, therefore, should strive to create a shopping experience that is optimized for mobile phones. That means mobile-friendly content and mobile payment options, along with mobile coupons—and a convenient checkout system. The long forms that work on a desktop computer don’t transfer well to smartphones. Include an option to check out as a guest. Users are more likely to abandon a shopping cart if they have to create an account and confirm it.
With millennials, the key is shopping that is easy, fast, and appealing. Fast delivery is also important: millennials are loyal to brands that provide speedy delivery.
Millennials have gotten a bad rap. They’ve been dismissed as lazy and entitled, and assumed to lack loyalty. According to Accenture’s survey of 1,700 millennials across eight countries, however, millennials are loyal to brands that provide what they consider a positive customer experience. They want brands to court them as a customer—and to millennials, that translates as targeted promotions, coupons sent via email or snail mail, and substantial discounts in return for their loyalty. Millennials are bargain hunters; they always look for deals before buying.
Remember, too, that millennials shun traditional advertising. Instead, they go to their peers for recommendations on what to buy—and that means chatting on Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels.
The best part about social sharing is that millennials who like your product will go to social channels to recommend it. Fifty-nine percent of millennials use social to share their positive or negative experiences, according to Mom Central Consulting, which conducted research on 1,100 American millennial women.
Social media plays a role in the courting process, but the key is social sharing. Millennials use social media to hear about product releases, deals, sales, or coupons. In fact, 63 percent of millennials queried in the Merchant Warehouse and Retail Pro International survey said they would “check in” to businesses on social channels in exchange for a coupon or discount. Even more millennials – 84 percent – are more likely to visit websites whose retailers have loyalty programs. But remember millennials’ affinity for smartphones and tablets: 73 percent said they want to interact with brands’ loyalty programs on their mobile devices.
Even more telling, 75 percent say they would switch to brands that deliver real-time discounts and promotions to their smartphones while they shop.
With so many distractions online, you can’t keep millennials on your site— desktop or mobile—if it’s not well-designed and easy to use. Millennials simply won’t put up with a bad user experience—and will publicly criticize brands that let them down.
So make sure your website is easy to navigate and easy to search. Make purchasing easy, and keep cart details if the customer leaves before completing a purchase.
It’s worth taking time to get to know your millennial customers. Find out what social sites they’re using—it might not be Facebook or Twitter—and make your presence known. Millennials won’t go out of their way to find you. But you can’t afford to ignore this lucrative demographic. Remember, there are 73 million of them, and they have $600 billion to spend. Make sure you’re getting a piece of the pie.