Do You Know Your Customers? The Truth Behind Millennial Shopping Habits

Nov 22, 2013 / By Samer Forzley

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millennials

Black Friday is fast approaching and all eyes have turned toward retail and the holiday shopping season. After initial reports that 2013 would be the worst shopping season since 2009, new forecasts have upped the total sales estimate. The 2013 holiday shopping season is now expected to drive $602.1 billion in total sales for the months of November and December, a 3.9 percent bump over 2012.

But more important than the sales is how they’re being made. For the first time ever, online shopping could be the top choice for consumers during the holiday season, with 47 percent of shoppers in a recent survey listing the Internet as their favorite shopping destination, and analysts predicting $2.27 billion in sales on Cyber Monday alone.

As online shopping grows, so too does omni-channel shopping, in which consumers take advantage of all retail channels – online, in-store, and mobile – to browse online before purchasing a product in store, or walk the aisles before purchasing online. In fact, the growth of omni-channel shopping is significant enough to coin the next two months the omni-channel holiday season, underscoring the need for retailers to establish smooth and integrated channels for consumers to easily transition from one medium to the next.

ResearchNow conducted an omnibus survey this month of 1,000 U.S. consumers on behalf of Pythian and asked them about their shopping habits and retail preferences. The results not only reflect the growing omni-channel trend among consumers but also offer retailers important insight into millennials’ shopping habits, and what must be done to improve the shopping experience for Generation Y. Here are the survey’s most important findings and what retailers can do both this holiday shopping season and beyond.

What retailers need to know about omni-channel shopping trends

1. Omni-channel shopping is popular in both directions.

  • 60.5 percent of respondents browse online before eventually making a purchase in brick and mortar stores.
  • 48.5 percent of respondents admitted to showrooming, saying they browsed for items in stores, then purchased them online at a later date.

2. Omni-channel shopping is much more popular among millennials

  • 77.1 percent of millennial respondents reported browsing online before purchasing in the store, nearly 17 percentage points higher than the general population.
  • 58 percent of millennial respondents admitted to showrooming, nearly 10 percentage points higher than older shoppers.
  • 56.3 percent of millennial respondents admitted to browsing for an item in the store, yet purchasing the item online from a different retailer – double the rate of the general population.

3. Millennials are more likely to showroom using their mobile phones

  • 19.45 percent of millennial shoppers have been in a store and purchased an item via their mobile phone from a different retailer while still in the store – double the rate of all other respondents.

4. Many retailers aren’t prepared for omni-channel shoppers

  • While retailers attempt to provide a seamless online and in-store shopping experience, disconnect among database interactions is leaving many shoppers unsatisfied, especially among the millennial generation.
  • 44 percent of respondents – and 57 percent of millennials specifically — have confirmed an item’s availability online, yet found it unavailable when attempting to purchase the same item in person at the store.

How retailers can retain millennial shoppers

Despite millennials’ high rates of showrooming and a lack of loyalty to any one retailer, certain retail tactics have been show to attract younger generation shoppers.

  1. Discounts: 97 percent of millennial respondents claimed that receiving discounts before shopping would drive them back to the retailer for future shopping events.
  2. Rewards programs: 43 percent of millennial respondents noted that they were very likely to frequent a store if it provided a rewards program.
  3. Inventory consistency: 89 percent of millennials said they wouldn’t return to a store if the inventory they confirmed was there was not available upon visit, integrating your online and offline data is crucial to capturing sales from this demographic.
  4. Fast and functional websites: 84 percent of younger generation respondents reported they would not return to a retail website if it ran slowly or crashed during use, make sure all your systems are tuned and performing well for the holiday season and beyond.

Retailers that want to successfully navigate this year’s holiday shopping season and beyond must acknowledge the modern shopper’s drive for online, in-store, and mobile purchasing, and utilize that knowledge to run cohesive omni-channel networks that can better retain customers both old and young.

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