Confessions of a Millennial
July 01, 2016
Are brick-and-mortar stores dying? Getting eaten by ecommerce? Some would say yes. But us "Millennials" don’t agree. We simply can’t have one without the other.
My name is Fatme and I am a Millennial, born in 1994 in a world of quickly-evolving technology. Not only am I a Millennial, I’m also a student of KEA (Copenhagen School of Technology & Design), currently doing an internship at Valtech.
Today, people are living a busy lifes. For most of us, shopping is time-consuming and often becomes a task that just needs to be done. But us Millennials have a way to deal with this: online shopping. It's convenient, because we can browse and order products on the train back from work or at home on our couch while enjoying a cup of coffee.
Although we find it convenient to shop online, and have earned a reputation of viewing the world through a uniquely digital lens, we still like visiting brick-and-mortar stores. We still like the idea of walking into a store where we we can touch and feel, get the cashier’s advice and hear our friends’ opinion. Overall, we still enjoy the in-store experience and it matters to us.
What we want
What we enjoy most? The social aspects of it. Last summer, I was sitting in front of my computer thinking about what to have for lunch. “A veggie burger!”, I thought to myself. So… What I did was simply design my own burger online: I chose the bread, the filling, how and when I wanted my burger prepared. And then… I chose to eat my burger at 2 pm at the burger store with a couple of friends.
Does this sound demanding? Making things complicated? Because we simply want it all? Maybe. For me, it’s just about getting the best I can get - offline, online and both together.
Did you notice the word ‘together’? No separation. No two separated channels. For us, the offline and online worlds are one. We don’t distinguish. If you want to sell me something, you need to acknowledge the fact that you need to design a new shopping experience, which embraces the offline and the online world as one. Because: we want a seamless, connected experience (also called an omni-channel experience).
Why we leave you
In a study conducted by Valtech, the state of eCommerce I read that most retailers today have a Multi-Channel approach. You are using multiple channels to engage with us, storing our data separately and independently from other channels.
Not bad… But certainly not good enough, if you want to clinch a sale with me and the other impatient Millennials out there. Why? Because all of our useful data across the channels will get lost which will prevent you from responding to our needs quickly. Should that happen, we will simply find another retailer that can. For us, your competitor is only one click away!
Three ways to make us stay with you
What to do instead? Well, have all of your channels working together. My experience with your store has to be seamless and consistent. Like the time I went to visit Rebecca Minkoff in New York – a must-visit-store by the way! It has the convenience I love about the online world, paired with the tangible excitement of in-store shopping. Personalized fitting rooms gives you recommendations based on your preferences (just in case you didn’t spot them in the store), with colours that can be easily swapped and different sizes available with the tap on the mirror. Trying out clothes has never been more easy and fun!
Many other retailers such as Hointer, Starbucks, Neiman Marcus have embraced omni-channel, because they realized that’s the way we like it!
Here are three tips to help you in the right direction.
1. Get rid of your channels
So, what you start with, is to make all of your channels disappear! Why? Because that is what I want, my friends want and the rest of the Millennials want! It will enable you to focus on a broader benefit, and understand how your customers get excited about your products. You optimize the experience across all touchpoints, independently of the channel you use to connect with them.
2. Treat us like royals
If you get rid of the channels you can better recognize and treat us as individuals, as if we're your most important customers. Of course we know that we aren’t, but we expect you to pretend, because you have the means to do so. We want you to recognize who we are and what we need by analyzing and integrating the big bunch of data we leave behind as we move around your channels. Once you have it, you should use this information to engage with us.
I recently attended a webinar hosted by Valtech and Innometrics about omni-channel and customer experience. Focus was on the importance of knowing customers beyond just identity, but also knowing their preferences and needs. Because we Millennials want to be recognized as individuals with different preferences, not ’members of a segment’.
By the way, if you want to know more about how you can take your Multi-Channel approach to the next level, check out this blog that we published at Valtech a few weeks ago.
3. Bring technology into your store
Yes, brick-and-mortar stores still have tremendous value, but it is clear that they can no longer stand alone. It is therefore necessary that you keep looking for tech innovations that could appeal to my generation and transform our in-store experience.
If you need inspiration, here are some of the latest tech trends for you to check out.
But don’t get trapped in the technology bias. The same convenience we experience online, through technology, is expected offline! We expect you to design an experiential shopping experience, where shopping is more than just a transaction and my pleasure isn’t limited to the products I buy in your store.
We do enjoy visiting a store. But if we do, it has to be a connected store, where we can hang out with our friends.
So start placing technology in the heart of your store and ensure that all of your touchpoints blend together.
Why you shouldn’t wait too long
In short, retailers must accept the fact that what works today, may not work tomorrow. If you have a Multi-Channel approach, chances are that your data landscape is very fragmented and this fragmentation will prevent you from delivering us the ultimate experience. You will simply not be able to engage us. Instead, you should respond quickly, by designing a digital Omni-Channel experience that places us impatient and picky customers in the center of everything.
We have already seen a couple of retailers succeed in achieving a smooth transition from online to offline shopping. Their success factor was offering customers a seamless experience, disregarding channels. Your stores can no longer be like a trip to the museum-of-separated-channels. We want to interact innovatively with your store products. Therefore, embrace technology and innovate! Make your store visit a memorable experience for me and my peers – An experience that links the virtual world with the physical world.