Businesses looking to capture the lucrative millennial market need to create an exceptional online customer experience or risk alienating these digital natives.
Millennials simply don’t shop the way their parents did. They don’t wander around stores until they see something they like. Instead, they’re more likely to have done extensive research before entering a store. Alternatively, they know exactly what they’re looking for and have only entered the store to ‘showroom’, and will make their purchase online later.
For example, 80 per cent of millennials find it useful when retailers recommend products on websites while they shop. Understanding behaviours like this, and catering directly to them, can make the difference between capitalising on the millennial market and failing to compete successfully.
Mobile technology and a fast-paced retail environment have combined to raise millennials’ expectations sky-high. They’re used to seeing slick, well-produced advertising and marketing materials and, more often than not, they’re viewing those materials on a mobile device such as a smartphone.
The ready availability of information via the internet means millennials are less likely to enjoy a protracted in-store interaction. They want to conduct their own research, whether that includes finding out what their peers think via Facebook, or seeing what the latest celebrity fashion is via Instagram. Social media is therefore an ideal communications medium for businesses looking to target millennials, as long as they can get the messaging right.
Marketing effectively to millennials online means doing away with mass personalisation and using data to truly individualise the experience. They prefer to be presented with options based on past purchases and behaviour, and are more likely to buy again. This puts them one step closer to becoming brand ambassadors, which is incredibly powerful.
Millennials are busy with work and socialising: they want to shop when it’s convenient for them, which makes the internet their shopping mall of choice. They want to compare prices and options fast, fill a shopping basket quickly and easily, then check out with the simple click of a button. More than 70 per cent of millennials say they are very or somewhat interested in personalised offers.
The nature of online shopping also means that customers can stop and consider their purchase, either abandoning their cart or leaving it open so they can come back to it later when they’ve had a chance to think. This creates both opportunities and threats for marketers. On the one hand, the convenience of being able to do this is attractive to millennials. On the other, it makes it easy for millennials to walk away from purchases.
To win millennial shoppers over, businesses need to understand where their audience is, what they want, and how they think. They have to earn millennials’ attention by proving they know them as individuals, then deliver a frictionless online shopping experience to capitalise on millennials’ propensity for clicking, sharing, swiping, comparing, visualising, customising, and automating.
 “Uncovering Truths of Millennial Spending”, Coupons.com, 2015