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GUEST COMMENT Engaging the Millennials generation, online consumers of the future

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Internet retailers must always have an eye on their future customer; who are they and how will their online shopping habits differ? What do retailers need to do to attract, retain and motivate them? According to the recent MetaPack Delivering Consumer Choice: 2015 State of eCommerce Delivery research, millennials are the core consumer of the future and having grown up in a world of technology-enabled convenience they have very high expectations.

Millennials have grown up as digital natives. They are the disruptive generation looking for fast, intuitive and seamless online shopping experiences that suit their own personal needs. They want convenience and choice in their delivery options and in order to tailor the service to their specific needs, they are prepared to pay more for it. Millennials (born between 1989 and 1997) are less tolerant than previous generations, and significantly, if they experience poor service, they make their feelings plain. This age group, more than any other, has broadcast a negative delivery experience on social media and they are more likely never to shop with that retailer again.

The findings of the MetaPack survey illustrate to retailers what millennials are looking for and what it will take to secure their loyalty in the future. Crucial to them, as to all the age groups we talked to, is choice. Millennials use every delivery option available to them with 85% having goods delivered to their door, 33% opting to collect purchases in store, and 29% arranging delivery to a local shop or pick up point. What they don’t want is to be kept waiting – 44% of this age group said that they’d failed to complete an online order because delivery would take too long.

Retailers planning their delivery options, should be aware that almost a quarter (23%) of the millennial shoppers in our survey seek out a same-day delivery option – which is more than double those aged 39 to 52. Despite their smaller incomes, 60% will also pay for this privilege if they can get what they want delivered quickly. By comparison with other age groups, millennials also have much lower overall expectations of free delivery; just 27% expect this compared to 65% of shoppers aged 53-64.

Overall, millennials put a premium on delivery, with 69% confirming that they’d be more likely to pay more for goods because the delivery options were better and more convenient. Yet 81% also said they’d be prepared to wait for longer for delivery if the goods they wanted were less expensive – which makes them by far the most accommodating age group of consumers surveyed in this respect. When asked if they used a paid-for services like Amazon Prime, almost 45% said that they were currently members and 91% reported that they’d like other retailers to offer a similar delivery loyalty programme.

Communication is vital. Retailers must keep their young customers informed when it comes to the progress of their order, with 80% saying it’s important a retailer communicates where their parcel is. And how do they keep up to date? 93% of Millennials check-in online, and almost half (45%) check the order status at least twice, and almost a quarter (24%) do so four or more times.

It’s no surprise that social media influences these young consumers far more than any other age group. The disruptive generation are happy to search for peer reviews about which retailers to avoid, with 61% saying a bad review about delivery on social media would influence their decision whether or not to shop with a retailer. Be warned, they are also more successful at leveraging social media to elicit a response from a retailer – 28% of millennials received a goods refund following a social media complaint, while 22% had been given a voucher or discount.

The option to easily return items is growing in importance, and the reason for this is that 40% of the respondents aged 18-26 confirmed they often or sometimes order multiples of goods (for example, multiple sizes of the same clothing item) knowing they will return some or all of these. For retailers this will become an increasingly important issue. 58% of millennials said they had not shopped with a retailer because of their returns policy and 85% confirm they only shop with online retailers that make the process easier.

Like the delivery options, this age group is also more prepared to pay for a better return option.

Looking ahead at breakthrough delivery techniques that millennials would be happy to use, drone delivery was only selected by 30% of the cohort, but a more impressive 41% said they’d be most likely to opt for delivery to a secure box outside their home.

What’s not up for argument, however, is their unappeasable desire for more speed. When asked about which future delivery options topped their wish list, same day delivery was attractive for 66% of millennials, while almost half (48%) said they’d be looking for a confirmed one-hour delivery timeslot.

The key message is that when it comes to delivery, millennials expect both speed and convenience from online retailers. Delivery is a vital element of the overall shopping experience and they expect retailers to keep them informed and to get the delivery service right.

This ‘disruptive generation’ of shoppers are more likely to pay more for a better delivery option, and increasingly expect retailers to offer same day services that satisfy their desire to get what they want – when they want it.

Kees de Vos is chief product officer at MetaPack

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