Millennials aren’t kids anymore. The majority have entered the workforce, built careers, and pursued milestones such as marriage, home ownership, and starting a family. As a result, today’s millennials are a major force in retail, accounting for 30 percent of all retail sales in the United States.
This increased purchasing power, combined with unique shopping preferences and buying behaviors, is forcing retailers to evolve to meet a new set of expectations. Millennials have high expectations for their shopping experiences, particularly when buying online or through another digital channel, and they know that if your business won’t meet their expectations, your competitors likely will.
In order to earn the loyalty of millennial customers, you need to exceed their expectations by providing a frictionless, engaging, and memorable shopping experience. Here are just a few ways to create a millennial-approved retail experience:
1. Unify online and in-store shopping.
Millennials and Gen Z are notorious for using their phones to research purchases while standing in a brick-and-mortar store. A common assumption is that they’re doing price comparisons and reading reviews of products, which are common practices. But there are other reasons why millennials perform a quick search before saying “yes” to your product.
Research shows that 53 percent of younger shoppers are using their phones to look up product availability when an item they want isn’t offered in the store. This is first and foremost a failure of brick-and-mortar inventory, and it’s something retailers can address by integrating online and in-store inventories and offering convenient purchasing and shipping options.
In addition, more than half of millennial shoppers report going online while shopping in order to find discounts or promotions they can apply to their purchase. You can build customer trust and create a unified customer experience by keeping prices and promotions consistent on every channel.
2. Provide responsive service.
Millennials have grown up in a world where businesses are using technology to provide service and information faster than ever before. They expect quick attention and service during their retail experience—otherwise, they’re likely to ditch your brand in search of better service.
Expedient service takes several forms. Access to real-time information, including live updates on store inventory and shipping information, is one way to quickly assist customers in getting the information they need. Prompt in-store attention, facilitated by technology that easily pulls up customer profiles and quickly resolves inquiries, is another step your retail business can take.
Fast customer service also matters to millennials. Online chatbots provide instant communication and attention to customer needs, and social media channels can be used to manage customer questions and quickly respond to customer service needs.
By implementing solutions to improve your responsiveness to your customers, you improve your customer experience and avoiding turning away impatient shoppers.
3. Make sure your online store is fast, well-designed, and easy to navigate.
Once again, speed of service and performance plays a major role in winning over millennial shoppers. But fast service must be accompanied by efficiency and accuracy to deliver a satisfying shopping experience.
For your online store, this means implementing a UX design that is mobile-optimized and built to offer fast page-load speeds, reducing the amount of time customers are asked to wait. Online retail experiences should offer a clean design and an easy checkout process, with options to set up a customer profile or check out as a guest.
Consider including simple click-to-buy buttons from third-party payments providers such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. Amazon provides a similar feature with its “Buy Now” button, which is featured with every product listing to make checkout as friction-free as possible.
Remember that with each additional click you ask your customers to make, you risk cart abandonments and lost sales revenue. Customers want a checkout process that is seamless and quick. The fewer steps they have to take to complete a purchase, the better your customers will feel about the experience you provide.
Millennials aren’t going anywhere. As they mature into adulthood and set a course for their 30s and 40s, their role in the larger retail ecosystem is only going to grow.
If your business depends on these consumers to grow and thrive, you can’t afford to serve them with an outdated retail experience. Identify the things that matter most to your millennial audience, and create a retail experience that meets—and exceeds—those expectations.