Millennial stereotypes suggest they do everything on their phones, but in truth they still favor stores as much as other generations – if merchants provide the right store experience.
Some 82% of Millennials prefer shopping in-store, according to data from Accenture. The top reason? Like every generation, Millennials say only stores offer the chance to try items before purchasing them, Deloitte found.
The Millennial difference kicks in once they’ve inspected products in person, when they exercise their options as connected consumers. Some 56% place orders online after a store visit, according to research from Euclid. At the same time, some 48% of Millennials say they’re prone to making impulse purchases without prior research – more than Baby Boomers or Gen X, a survey from Bronto found. To cater to these dual online/offline sensibilities, stores should provide:
1) Product test drive capabilities.
Just seeing and touching items on the shelves isn’t enough. Retailers should do their utmost to deliver immersive “test drive” experiences that empower shoppers to put gear and electronics through their paces and to move around in apparel and footwear, not just appraise looks in an unflattering mirror.
2) Pop-up shops.
Temporary stores within stores that showcase a particular brand or even a seasonal theme are popular with Millennials, with two-thirds saying they’re likely to visit a pop-up store, Euclid found. Pop-ups fulfill Millennial expectations for novel store experiences, and 30% say associated discount offers are a draw as well.
3) Fast, free in-store wifi as the basis for mobile enhancements.
More than two-thirds of Millennials expect retailers to assist their in-store research habits with support for mobile technology, Bronto found, so merchants should offer a strong wifi signal. That connection can form the basis for innovative store experiences such as augmented-reality store navigation to personalized picks, smart shelf labels that connect to online resources, and quick mobile checkout.
4) Knowledgeable store associates.
More than a quarter of Millennials say they’re likely to enjoy interacting with store associates, and 11% say interactions with store staff strongly influence buying decisions. This is more than double the percentage of Gen X buyers who feel the same way, Euclid found. Shoppers should be able to summon store staff via their phones, and associates should be empowered to consult online resources and order histories.
5) Flawless BOPIS execution.
Millennials are more likely than their older counterparts to use Buy Online, Pickup In-Store, aka BOPIS; 47% say they use the service more than 40% of the time, according to Euclid. Merchants need to support seamless and efficient BOPIS shopping, starting with accurate inventory visibility online, which 89% of Millennials said influences store visits, Accenture found. Once in stores, the pickup process should be as efficient as possible; solutions include merchants vetting signage and adequate staff pickup and return counters.