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e-Commerce Industry News

May 22, 2014
The rise of millennials and what it means for retailers
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May 22, 2014
Millennial shoppers will require merchants to rethink their approach. Millennial shoppers will require
merchants to rethink their approach.
Technology has generally been the catalyst of change for many merchants, whether it was the introduction of the universal product code a few decades ago or mobile shopping just a few years ago. However, the rise of the millennial generation - people born between 1985 and 2000 - has quickly become the most prominent driving factor of change for many merchants simply because of how different these customers are in comparison to prior generations. Now, retailers are feeling pressure to adapt everything from their hours of operation to the channels they use to engage prospects in response to millennials.

As Yahoo reported, the 82 million millennial Americans are either just coming of age or will be within the next decade and will account for a significant portion of retail spending. Currently, this generation spends approximately $600 billion annually in offline and online stores, but that figure will jump to $1.4 trillion before the end of this decade. An even juicier statistic for merchants: as many as 58 percent of people in this age bracket say they "love to shop."

However, they don't shop like their parents do and grandparents did before them. As the stereotype goes for younger people, they are tech-savvy and know how to use the Internet to get the most from their shopping experience. This is where retailers need to begin adjusting - a 9 to 5 brick-and-mortar retail shop that's closed on Sunday and reaches only local prospects is no longer good enough. But that's just the starting block. Omnichannel features such as in-store pickup are a necessity to ensure an optimal shopping experience for millennials. Flexibility is king, and retailers will need to take advantage of all the tools at their disposal to help engage this generation.

"What's really happening is a shift of power from retailer to the consumer," Deena Varshavskya, founder and CEO of online shopping community Wanelo, told Yahoo. "Because the consumer is exposed to so many choices the retailer has no choice but to create an amazing product, set it at a great price, make it available exactly where the consumer is spending time and that's how you win the future."

Many retailers have already begun making these shifts, but it's crucial they don't stop at simply offering a website or mobile app. All of these different channels must work together cohesively to truly deliver the next-level shopping experience that Generation Y consumers demand.