The Millennial Touch

Millennials, millennials, millennials. While some may be sick of discussing the influence of this tech-savvy generation of consumers, omnichannel merchants just don’t have that luxury. This month’s Vantiv Omnicommerce Tracker makes the case for why keeping pace with the changing digital landscape means paying attention to the channel-hopping age group that will soon dominate the market.

Everything millennials touch, or even think about touching, has the potential to essentially turn to gold – from technology to pop culture, and especially in the world of omnichannel shopping.

These digital natives come bearing an estimated $200 billion worth of purchasing power and the knowledge, tools, and skills to wield it appropriately. But how can merchants grab and keep the attention of a new generation of omnishoppers in order to fully capitalize on the millennial opportunity?

While the term millennial as well as the idea of reaching the growing number of 18 to 34 year olds in the market today is nothing new, what merchants may be missing out on is a true understanding of how the changing expectations of these consumers are shifting the retail landscape itself.

A recent white paper sponsored by Bronto, titled “Tracking the Mobile Millennial Shopper,” found that mobile is a critical factor in the millennial shopping experience. Nearly 36 percent of millennials leverage their mobile devices while shopping in-store, with more than one-third shopping on mobile devices at least once a month or more and 1 in 2 using their smartphones to shop outside of the store.

Smartphone-owning millennials are reportedly more loyal to brands that keep pace with the latest technologies, use app stores as a tool to help discover brands and value a brand’s use of technology as a more significant factor than the brand name itself.

As millennials continue to plug into mobile and social shopping experiences, essentially disrupting traditional shopping patterns, retailers are still struggling to capitalize on the changing behaviors.

“Millennials are savvy shoppers and many have come of age in a post-recession era; our research shows that this group routinely comparison shops on mobile to get the best value and shopping experience, but the market has not yet capitalized on those habits,” Rodney Mason, GVP of Marketing at Blackhawk Engagement Solutions, recently stated in reference to the path-to-purchase habits of this influential demographic.

At the end of the day, if merchants aren’t capitalizing on the mobile opportunity being presented by millennials, they could risk being overlooked by the market’s fastest-growing segment of shoppers.

One significant way in which mobile can be utilized by merchants to bring millennials in-store – and keep them there – is through push notifications for location-based apps. Not only has the use of location-based services proven to be popular among this demographic, but millennials are also showing a high degree of engagement with the push notifications sent by brands and retailers to offer content on product offers in-store.

A study from location-based mobile platform Retale, which polled 500 millennials to gauge their actions and preferences related to using push notifications on location-based apps, found that nearly 84 percent act on these notifications.

“Millennials are heavily reliant on their mobile devices, and push notifications are an ideal way to connect with them about the latest offerings from brands and retailers,” said Pat Dermody, President of Retale, noting that relevancy and being respectful of millennials’ time are both critical in order to increase engagement. Last year, beauty retailer Sephora’s efforts to revamp its omnichannel offerings, particularly through mobile, paid off and in turn created a way for it to stand out amongst other omnichannel merchants.

The retailer launched beacons, iPhone-based augmented reality and an Amazon Prime-style shipping service as part of a “digital experience” makeover of its U.S. stores, all aimed at developing new strategies and technologies for in-store and mobile shopping. Roughly 70 percent of Sephora’s customers carry iPhones, which was a contributing factor to the retailer rolling out Apple Pay acceptance both online and in-store.

While millennials are eager to use their mobile devices to find the best deals and suss out which retailers they want to shop with, the security of omnicommerce shopping remains a big priority for this generation. Despite a propensity for using new and advanced technology in their everyday lives, millennials have grown increasingly weary about their data and privacy.

The ever-growing threat of data breaches and identity theft is an issue that has impacted the way millennials view the businesses they interact with today, which is why building trust is vital to the overall customer experience millennials are seeking out.

One way in which millennials’ security concerns are impacting their shopping behavior can be seen through their efforts to safely shop online by using gift cards. According to Blackhawk Engagement Solutions’ “Millennials Disrupt Shopping” report, nearly 64 percent of millennials turn to gift cards rather than any other digital payment method, with 66 percent confirming they feel using gift cards will help to limit the risk of identity fraud.

But it’s important for merchants to not let the fear of fraud cost them more than actual fraud, which can easily happen when false declines enter the picture. The impact isn’t just a loss of that sale that time, but disgruntled consumers who never return.

“Online and off, there are $118 billion worth of legitimate transactions being declined. ECommerce and mobile commerce is $9 billion of that,” Andy Freedman, Chief Marketing Officer at Riskified, recently explained to Internet Retailer.

A study from the company found that millennials, like most consumers, take the decline of their legitimate purchases very seriously, with nearly 42 percent reporting they abandoned a retailer after being falsely declined.

In today’s omnichannel landscape, merchants must strike the balance between delivering what millennials want (when they want it) and ensuring those goods and services can be accessed and paid for in a secure fashion.