One of the largest generations in history is coming of age and moving into the prime of its spending years. Being the first truly digital generation, they are changing the way the economy works. As shoppers, Millennials are setting new challenges for retailers in delivering a better customer experience. Their usual portrayal as underemployed and financially dependent is changing as their spending is estimated to grow to 30% of all retail sales in the United States by the year of 2020.
The digital era is a great challenge and a great opportunity for retailers. They are facing an ever-growing trend for online shopping, but despite that, according to the research conducted by Accenture, people actually prefer visiting stores to shopping online. Nevertheless online channels are very important, especially to Millennials, providing the information they need in order to find the best products and services with the best price. What retailers need to do is to acknowledge the new needs of their customers and try to satisfy them by incorporating new technologies into the shopping experience.
In the UK, 91% of all Millennials have smartphones, and 90% of them use their smartphones while shopping in retail stores. The urge to always stay connected is of great significance to Millennials. Many of the shopping centres and retail parks in the UK have already provided free Wi-Fi to their customers, and some retail parks have resolved the problem of empty phone batteries by installing free charging services that run on solar energy. The survey has shown that 94% of people said that their shopping experience was improved because of the free charging service.
An excellent example of a retail park which implements state-of-the-art tech is the Mayflower, Basildon. They did a refurbishment of their shopping environment, making it more visually attractive and more considerate of their customer’s digital habits. They also improved their parking service by incorporating video messaging to help shoppers find a parking space. After the refurbishment, their sales and footfall increased by 30%, and their annual income growth rose to 17,4%, but it also helped them attract new brands and expand their offer. Many other shopping centers and retail parks such as Ealing Broadway, Meadowhall in Sheffield and Broughton in Chester have decided to follow this example and are doing or planning to do similar refurbishments of their shopping environments.
Providing new experiences
Millennials crave for new things to experience, in all sorts of areas. When they go to the store, they want more from it than what they get online, and that’s where new technologies can play a significant role. Some retailers have experimented with augmented reality providing their customers a unique personalised experience. Technology can be of great use for the retailers in order to make their customers feel closer to the brand and make them want to come back. Virtual fitting rooms have many benefits for retailers as well as their customers. They save time for busy shoppers, and provide an almost limitless inventory for the retailer. Burberry Beauty Box store in Covent Garden, London uses augmented reality in many creative ways. For example, customers use AR to see how different types of nail polish look in combination with their skin tone.
Unifying customer service channels
When it comes to shopping 68% of Millennials demand a seamless experience regardless of the channel. This means that the information on a retailer’s web-site, mobile app and in physical store cannot differ, which is currently the case with many customer services. Mobile apps or Facebook pages can provide information about sales and new collections that need to be updated in real time in order to be really useful to the customer. Furthermore, technology can be used to offer a customized, personalized service for each shopper, using data about previous purchases to predict future needs, and make special offers and rewards based on that information.
Author: Nevenka Rangelov
Nevenka is a student of journalism and communications at Faculty of Political Sciences in Belgrade. She’s planning on pursuing a career in communications and marketing. Ever since attending educational program “Public Policy Academy’’, she’s had a lot of interest in entrepreneurship and start-ups. An important part of her life on faculty is her activity in the Students for Liberty organisation, where she’s in charge of creating creative content. She practises yoga and loves skiing.
Strawberry Smart Bench is easily installable and movable street furniture powered by solar energy, that offers charging for mobile devices, environmental sensing, free emergency call and local info in public spaces.
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