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Yikes! Forget Millennials, everyone is becoming a tech-based shopper

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Every episode of Scooby Doo concludes with the unmasked villain declaiming “I’d have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for you pesky kids” – and, even though Velma and Fred were clearly well in to their 30s, this was largely true. The same could be said for every report into the state if e and mcommerce this summer. Everything would be fine if it wasn’t for those pesky customers.

This week’s culprits are Millennials. They are much misunderstood and, when not rewriting how people do everything from dating to shopping, they are having a profoundly odd time with retailers.

The problem, you see, is that they aren’t like everyone else. They get technology; they are brand agnostic; they care only about brands that ‘represent’ them; they are driven by price; they are driven not by price but by experience; they don’t want technology they just want service… and so on and so forth it goes, with each report contradicting the last.

The problem is that we now have way too much data about customers. Forget all this millennials and Gen Z, and Gen A and so on. They do sort of exist – I am generation X and I do have different ways and wants to, say, my Baby Boomer parents or my Generation Instant Gratification kids – but what the endless research is really telling us is that the changing technology around retail has given shoppers choice in how they shop and they are really running with it.

Of course, for retailers the upshot is the same: they aren’t delivering the in-store technology, or they aren’t catering to the demands of the mobile luxury shopper, or they aren’t doing enough with VR. But what needs to be addressed is this idea that it is only millennials that shop in a certain way, or that Gen Z shoppers are different again. More, I think that we are all moving to shopping in the same ways – sometimes driven by cost, sometimes by brand, sometimes by social, sometimes by experience – we just haven’t all got there yet.

This means that retailers need to be on the ball with covering all these bases and integrating all these different shopping methodologies into their over-arching strategy, rather than trying to single out certain social groupings.

Of course, the very old are probably not going to adopt VR in store to enhance their shopping experience (my mum is confused enough about the real world, let alone the virtual one), but they may well embrace voice commerce on a home device, especially those that are infirm. Old people that can’t get out much will be all over Alexa and Home et al and will want rapid next hour delivery (possibly by drone or robot) – this isn’t the preserve of the young, it’s just not been marketed yet at the silver surfers.

Likewise, I think it highly disingenuous to think that mobile commerce is a Generation X and millennial thing. I think everyone will be doing it. Mobiles and tablets will replace computers soon enough and then what m-commerce actually is becomes moot.

That said, I will still be sitting at a powerful laptop making music or film editing when the urge to buy my groceries strikes, so I will still also do good old-fashioned e-commerce.

My point is that all these ways to shop will soon enough be embraced by everyone, and when they are used will be determined by location, context, convenience and mood of the shopper, not their age, sex, other arbitrary groupings that ‘the data’ my throw up.

We have to stop looking at shoppers are ‘types’ and understand that they are just at different places in adopting all the ways we can interact with retailers these days. Once we have that down and understood, then retailers can enjoy the full Scooby Snack.

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