The retail industry has undergone a revolution in the last year and while many brick-and-mortar stores reported revenues losses, the world of ecommerce has flourished. One key driver behind this change in shopping preferences from in-store to online is the technology-savvy generation known as the millennials.
This generation grew up during the smart-phone revolution and are constantly connected to the online world. Thus, it is no surprise that they are changing up the retail game and driving a revolution in customer experience that caters directly to their online preferences. The millennial influence and impact on online shopping is only due to increase as they are forecast to represent 35% of spending by 2030, and will become the mainstream consumer within a decade.
Therefore, analysing millennial shopping habits needs to be a high priority for retailers, especially for those that are struggling to compete with large retail conglomerates, such as Amazon and Alibaba that are able to continually offer lower prices and free next-day delivery. While it may not be possible for all retailers to offer these sorts of discounts and promotions, this doesn’t mean that organisations can’t compete for a slice of the ecommerce pie. By implementing an ecommerce strategy that successfully carters to other important millennial demands, retailers can ensure that they attract and win the business of this influential demographic.
The millennial generation value convenience and speed and want to be able to shop 24x7 without any limitations or difficulties. This has consequently led to a boom in mobile shopping, as millennial shoppers seek to reach new levels of convenience and enjoy the ability to ‘shop on the go’ without taking time out of their daily routine. Recent research conducted by ViSenze, who questioned over 1000 UK and US millennials and Generation Z shoppers, found that over 60% of respondents said they were most likely to complete a purchase on their mobile phones. In fact, the popularity of shopping via a mobile platform has increased dramatically year on year – during the 2018 November sales period Adobe reported that mobile phones accounted for 47% of traffic to online stores and 36% of sales and during Black Friday, Argos reported that 50% of its orders were made on a handset, a huge 40% increase from 2017.
The rise of social media has also fuelled the popularity of mCommerce. Social media is now a powerful tool used by businesses to drive traffic to their websites, enabled by new innovations such as the ability to embed shopping links within Instagram stories. For example, fashion-forward footwear brand, Ego Shoes, targets the millennial demographic by advertising via Instagram. Its success relies on working with influencers and redirecting followers to its website, and as a result, mobile handles 80% of its traffic and 75% of its conversions. By upgrading its platform it has been able to cut page loading time by 30% and continue the business’ success.
Traditionally, consumers have not ordered high-ticket items on a mobile device as there was a lack of trust surrounding the security of the platform, combined with minimal product information and imagery available via mCommerce sites. However, this is changing as mobile shopping increasingly becomes the norm. For example, mobile accounts for up to 50% of traffic for pureplay online homeware retailer, Cox & Cox and the retailer has seen an increase in more expensive items such as tables and chairs being purchased through the mobile site.
Today’s challenge for retailers is to ensure that their technology is supporting the increased traffic and order conversions that are being made on mobile devices as, despite the developing mCommerce trend, many mobile websites still do not offer a seamless user experience.
In our joint report with Inviqa focused on millennials shopping habits, 40% of those surveyed stated that the most common problem they faced when shopping online was a lack of product information, and a further 28% stated that they find websites are too slow. Therefore, retailers need to invest in their mCommerce platform to ensure that page-load times are quick and product imagery looks great on a smaller screen. Cox & Cox has successfully removed consumer anxiety and frustration by implementing a mCommerce strategy that offers an extremely visual experience. Cox & Cox has its own local photography studio and are able to dress all their pieces.
This allows the customer to visualise what the product would look like within the home without having to go to a showroom first. Ultimately, this has led to Cox & Cox’s overall mobile revenue increasing 44% year-on-year, with the mobile ecommerce conversion rate rising by over 20% year-on-year.
Retailers must also make sure that other product information is available, including reviews. Our report found that a huge 93% of millennials are likely to read product reviews before making a purchase and 52% of respondents stated that this information encouraged them to trust a brand. The importance of reviews is highlighted by the fact that half of all shoppers rely on Amazon’s reviews to make an informed purchase decision, despite a proven prevalence of fake reviews on the site. In today’s digital world where consumers are faced with the choice of shopping with thousands of different online sites, gaining their trust and loyalty can give a business a hugely competitive edge. However, many online retailers are still failing to readily offer up this information and are driving consumers to undertake their own research. By hosting product reviews directly on the product landing page, consumers will not only value the information but also the convenience, thus encouraging them to become a repeat customer.
In order to successfully entice millennial shoppers, businesses must also make sure that they are removing any barriers that could stop a consumer from completing a purchase. Creating a fast and simple online checkout process for example, should be one of the top priorities for all retailers and, if this isn’t done, ecommerce organisations are shooting themselves in the foot. Our report shows that 14% of millennials labelled a frustrating checkout as the most common problem they encountered when shopping online and 12% equated a bad online experience with a slow purchase process.
Simple changes, such as reducing the number of data fields, retaining customer payment information and allowing payment through multiple channels can remove frustration and make the process faster. Kurt Geiger has proven that small changes such as these can make a big difference. The footwear brand updated its ecommerce offering in order to improve its performance and scalability. This process included the deployment of a new out-of-the-box checkout process, which removed a massive conversion barrier by creating a ‘Guest Checkout’ as the assumed preference for online shoppers. This significantly improved conversion rates.
Retailers need to make sure that when they are updating their ecommerce strategy, they have millennial preferences and needs in mind. Appealing to this generation is key, especially when there is such fierce competition to win market-share within the retail industry. However, it’s important to remember that lowering prices and offering discounts is not the be all and end all when it comes to appealing to millennial consumers, but retailers need to make sure they are successfully offering a frictionless and convenient experience that drives consumer loyalty and trust.