Have you got the M-factor? Millennial buying habits online retailers need to address.

mobile shoppingOne of the biggest buzz words in business over the past several years has been “Millennials.” Some fear them; some welcome them with open arms; whatever your take on them, there’s no escaping the fact that they’re shaking up all aspects of our various business landscapes from becoming the biggest portion of the active workforce to having the most impactful purchasing power of any other demographic today. These seem to go hand-in-hand; as Millennials advance in their careers and land those higher-level jobs, their salaries also grow…catapulting them into their prime purchasing years. According to Accenture, their purchasing power will surpass $1 trillion by 2020 in the US alone – this means that failing to align with their buying habits could very well be the sinking point of a business.

What are these habits when it comes to online retail? To set the stage…Millennials are the biggest thing to happen to eCommerce since, well, eCommerce! People falling in the 18-34 age group were reported to have made 54% of all their purchases online last year. Given this reality, having an online store is a must for any retailer, big or small. That’s just the base though; once you have a webstore, it needs to be setup to target the Millennial shopper effectively. This generation is innately tech-savvy and extremely resourceful; having grown up in an era driven by rapid technological change and globalization, they’ve become accustomed to getting exactly what they want with just a few clicks/taps. They’re a social and connected bunch who use their smart devices to access information, make decisions and get things done fast. This pattern is forcing retailers to cater to a new breed of consumer – let’s take a look at some Millennial habits and expectations, and how retailers can respond to them.

Mobile access; anytime, anywhere:
This is a generation that likes to hold all aspects of their lives in their hands – quite literally via their smartphones. Shopping is just one of the things they use their handheld devices to do; they want to “come in,” be able to find what they want fast and move onto the next thing. ComScore reported that in 2016 computer usage dropped 20% among millennials as they begin going mobile-only. This means that your webstore’s experience needs to be top-notch on mobiles. Utilizing a responsively designed website isn’t enough – you need one that optimizes the screen space on any given device size, displaying the most important aspects of your offerings at first glance. Another thing to watch out for is your text size; best practices indicate that a mobile site’s text should be legible without having to zoom in. This means no cramming information…keep it clean, short, and relevant.

Need for ease, speed, and fluidity:
The first few moments spent on your website are critical. Considering that on average users will only spend about 10-20 seconds on a page, a homepage must be organized in a way that presents information in a visual and concise manner. The key is categorization – organize your products into categories for easy access to the products in which the shopper is interested. With this little tactic, you can offer a wide selection of products without overwhelming or frustrating the customer by presenting them in a manner that is simple to navigate.

Now that you’ve got their attention and they’ve added some things to cart – don’t lose them here! The abandoned shopping cart phenomenon is real and is often caused by the lack of fluidity in the shopping experience from beginning to end. A great homepage, product selection, and personalization process are just not enough – if the shopping cart experience is poor, like too many data fields to fill before purchase or the inability to order more than one product, these shoppers get driven away from clicking that all-mighty checkout button. So, you have to keep it short and sweet…yet informative. Lay out everything they need to know about the purchase process clearly like shipping options and costs, estimated delivery times, payment options, etc. Give them an enjoyable and convenient experience from homepage to checkout, and they’ll be sure to pay you a visit again.

Personalized shopping experiences:
In order to really get a Millennial’s attention, you need to deliver a tailored shopping experience for him/her. Forty-five percent of today’s consumers are more likely to shop on a site that offers them personalized recommendations and 86% of shoppers say that a personalized experience plays a role in their purchasing decisions. Because of this generation’s desire to be presented only with information that matches their individual needs, online retailers need to carefully analyze customer behavior and devise data-driven strategies to provide a unique journey for each customer. At the basic level, webstore owners can use personalization for relevant product recommendations and personalized emails, but more strategic online retailers are creating completely bespoke shopping experiences tailored exactly to customer needs and desires – every click is methodically planned to gently guide them towards completing the checkout process. These stores use navigational personalization, predictive recommendations, real-time deals, contextual messaging and much more.

Out with generic, in with “one-of-a-kind:”
Millennials have the desire to stand out, be unique and promote their self-brand. This shows in their purchasing demands as well. “One-style-suits-all” is a thing of the past for this generation, and even for the slightly younger “Gen-Z.” Three-quarters of these two generations combined have expressed that they are interested more in products that are customized exactly to their liking than generic ones, and 42% also said they have customized a product in the past. Many trendsetting online retailers are tapping into the growing product personalization market to enhance customer engagement and loyalty while generating higher revenues by applying price premiums for customization.

Social influence drives buying decisions:
Millennials communicate with their peers more over social media than they do in person nowadays. This very public connectivity greatly impacts retail in that 50% of millennials say they are influenced by social media when buying online; they will engage in discussions about products, especially when similar users have also commented previously. Thus, having a strong online presence by creating digital marketing content that spurs conversations is essential to any brand’s ability to attract Millennials.

Another way we see social influence playing a significant role in eCommerce is by way of User Reviews. Millennials are known to be mindful shoppers; they are not one to play favorites for a specific brand, but instead, compare options and choose the best product/service for its value. Sixty-one percent of shoppers will read online reviews before buying and a third of them will consult at least six comments prior to purchase. Not only should you thank the great reviews and show customer appreciation, but you should also use the bad reviews to shed light on your excellent client support strategy. Respond in a timely manner to show onlookers that customers are not just dollar signs to you – Millennials gravitate towards businesses who respectfully treat them as an individual, not simply a transaction number.

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Mediaclip holds accessibility and ease-of-use close to its heart. This is why we’ve created a product personalization software that delivers a responsive and rich user experience, catering directly to Millennials’ expectations and needs. The flexibility of our solution allows you to define your ideal workflows in support of your strategies to reach, serve, and retain customers in a highly personalized manner. Contact our team to discover the possibilities…