Technology and millennials have made a sizeable impact on the retail industry to date, however, technology expert Ian Tomlinson believes the coming years will see the age group revamp the retail trade.
They have been using technology since their teens and have been privy to (and sometimes responsible for) the very latest digital advances in our lifetime. These are the 30 somethings born post-1982, who are tech-savvy, demanding and increasingly dictating the way we shop. They are millennials.
Retailers are aware that these ‘Echo Boomers’ are wanting and needing more from their shopping experience. They need and want omni-channel because they know how to use it to best effect. They have different demands to their ‘Baby Boomer’ parents. They have shopped, communicated and socialised via technology for their entire lives and they have a greater need for technology that drives convenience and immediate fulfilment, without damaging their parents need for great customer service and that all-important in-store experience.
Not only do they expect to be able to pay, shop and browse on their mobile devices, Gen Y want to be able to see slick, presentable mobile EPOS systems in store. HP’s Natasja Andringa told RetailStore that one of the main thrusts of HP’s strategy is to introduce the brand new X3. She said: “The hardware we are introducing is more service orientated – we are bringing the payment closer to the customer and it also offers them more and more choice. We see the device as not only bringing payments closer to the customers but as a place to show products in other colours.” This will be music to millennials ears as they demand greater efficiencies and less friction in store. Not only are more than half of them comparing prices on their mobile devices before they reach the store, they now respect and appreciate retailers who are switched onto the mobile era in bricks and mortar too.
Retailers have been aware that being active on socials is by far one of the most important ways to connect and engage with this tech-savvy group. The retailers that are really making waves with millennials are the ones offering smart and easy e-commerce attached to some pretty clever CRM. Google shopping, eBay, Amazon, Facebook advertising, Instagram influencers and even Twitter geo-targeting – the way in which millennial shop products and are urged to hit ‘Buy’ is heavily influenced by their peers, by celebrities, bloggers and good marketing. Reviews have their place too as as much as nearly three quarters of all consumers are likely to make a purchase based on a positive review, according to Hubspot.
Having a global and holistic view of stock and inventory is key to keeping millennials with you. Not only does knowing where stock is important for the business, but it is a critical function of any good omni-channel retailer. If you want a pair of size 6 loafers in bright blue, surely if you can check if the retailer has them in your local store or can order them in Click and Collect, before you’ve even dialled a customer services or store number, and/or left the house, you’re winning, right? Right. Millennials don’t want to know if you’ll be able to get it in next week or even the next few days, they want to know there and then. They want their information now. Cloud-based systems prevent any confusion and help retailers operate to meet these real-time demands and feeds a customer-driven distributed order management system base on behaviours rather than historical allocation.
Do it all
Using a one system where you can pay, another which deals with gift cards, a separated e-commerce site and a clunky returns system is a sure fire way to frustrate this group. Millennials want ultimate flexibility, they want to know why they can’t get the same offer online as they do in store and most of all they want prices to be low and consistent. As a result of the personality traits of a millennial, it’s important for retailers to expand their inventory management systems, through the cloud, to move away from simply reacting to changing product demand with allocation and replenishment, to really crack product demand.