How to Attract a Younger, Mobile-Savvy Audience (er, Millennials) to Your Shop or Site

by • May 10, 2016 • Merchandising + Trends, Small Business MarketingComments Off on How to Attract a Younger, Mobile-Savvy Audience (er, Millennials) to Your Shop or Site5057

What actionable things can indie retailers do to draw in business from Millennials? Be mobile-savvy: have the right mobile content on the right channels, and make the purchasing process a breeze. Offering the right product mix is essential, too.

We know sometimes you feel overwhelmed by the Millennial Generation (i.e., people whose birth years range from the early 1980s to the early 2000s), but they’re an audience with enormous buying power — $200 billion to be exact.

Maximizing marketing and merchandising efforts to attract a younger audience to your retail shop is not about milking them for profit, but rather providing them real value and unique products — all without making them wait.

According to a survey conducted by youth marketing and research firm Ypulse, Millennials’ expectations of instant gratification are intensifying, with 75% of 18 to 32 year olds agreeing with the following statement: “I get frustrated with things that waste my time.” They don’t want the purchasing process to move too slowly and they don’t like products that are overpriced.

Their high expectations are also impacting their shopping behavior: 54% of Millennials have gone to a store intending to buy something but left empty-handed because the checkout line was too long.

Even so, you should consider Millennials your potential cash cow and greatest ally. Refining your social media strategy to engage young spenders and keep them coming back for more is imperative — especially for indie retailers with a unique point of view.

“Millennials are ‘Retail Rebels.’ They use their purchasing power to support independent brands with unique products. 50% of Millennials say that when it comes to the brands or products they buy, helping a small business beat out a big business is important to them,” says MaryLeigh Bliss, trends editor for Ypulse, a Millennial insights firm.

Here are our top 5 tips for engaging Millennials in conversation, upping your technology game, and converting curiosity to closed sales.

Mobile, Mobile, Mobile

millennials local search

Mobile media consumption is now greater than desktop internet browsing: 60% of all online traffic now comes from mobile devices. A recent eMarketer study found that 40% of Millennials make purchases on their smartphones, while 65% buy items online.    

Here’s what you should know:

1.) Be mobile-savvy by having the right content on the right social media channels. Content is king, but get your channels right.

Be active on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Snapchat. Read our recent post on Kitson’s closing for a step-by-step guide on how to engage a younger (er, Millennial) customer on social media — and get them excited about your shop.

“Millennials are more engaged in inbound rather than outbound marketing,” says Evi Triantafyllides, Director of Marketing for PAAY, an e-commerce checkout plugin technology. “This means that you have to create compelling, authentic content and promotions that pull a customer in rather than bombard him or her outwardly with direct mail, banner ads, etc. They also won’t be so receptive to email marketing, which they view as more of a business communication tool. They’ll be more receptive to mobile web content, especially social media marketing and open engagement via social media,” she adds.

Insider Tip: you don’t have to use every social media channel — it’s better to become an expert and be effective on one channel rather than spreading yourself too thin by using all of them. For example, some of the most followed brands on Instagram are actually independent brands, which present huge opportunities for smaller stores.

A cartoon by Drew Dernavich. #TNYcartoons

A photo posted by The New Yorker (@newyorkermag) on

According to Sprout Social, 53% of Instagram’s 200 million active users are between the ages of 18 and 29.

2.) Make sure your store website or e-commerce shop is mobile responsive.

The Millennial generation (and generations to come) are predominantly on mobile devices, which is why it’s essential that your website is “mobile responsive.”

According to Wikipedia, this is an approach to website and e-commerce shop design that provides an optimal viewing and interaction experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones).

Luckily for you almost all website and e-commerce platforms today (WordPress, Woothemes, Shopify, et al.) are automatically mobile responsive. Stop reading this and take a look at your website on your phone now. How does it look? If you can’t read it or it looks strange, then it’s definitely not mobile responsive.

If you look at your current site on mobile and it looks like a miniature version of your desktop site, we recommend you consider this list of easy website and e-commerce platforms. We also recommend comparing Shopify, WooCommerce, and Amazon as options to get your product and shop info out there.

“Keep it simple. They want to find all the information in one place. They don’t want to have to pick up the phone and call you,” advises retail consultant Georganne Bender of Kizer & Bender. “Retailers that have an updated FAQ page or offer suggestions on how to put outfits together or DIY project sheets will win the attention of Millennials. Baby Boomers are more likely to read longer copy. Millennials want it concise.”

Payment Processes Need to Be Quick and Easy. (Also: Offer Gift Cards)

For Millennials, purchasing transactions also need to be easy, seamless, and mobile.

“They are incredibly impatient and expect things right away. Seamless, 1-click processes — whether it’s paying, ordering, etc. — are incredibly important. They don’t want any red tape, and any time-wasters are immediately rejected,” says MaryLeigh Bliss of Ypulse.

Gift Cards = More Revenue

millennials gift card

“It’s not surprising that mobile payment options are popular among Millennials. However, there’s another major trend emerging among that generation: virtual gift cards. According to First Data’s Prepaid Consumer Insights Study, 49% of Millennials self-purchased virtual gift cards in 2015,” says Euphemia Erikson, head of product marketing for First Data’s Network and Security Solutions line of business.

Most credit card companies offer digital gift card solutions. Gyft is another popular option. For more information, check out this handy breakdown of gift cards for small businesses.

Offer Deals, Deals, Deals

71% of Millennials are willing to share their location for loyalty offers or deals, while 52% are open to receiving text messages for incentives, making them the perfect audience for location-based loyalty programs.

Gift Cards + Social Media

First Data’s Erikson also suggests that savvy retailers should combine gift card incentive programs with social media to attract millennial consumers. “It’s a natural fit,” she says.  “Gift cards provide great stickiness with Millennials, when promoted through social media channels like Facebook and Instagram.”

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Connect Your Online Activities to Your Offline Shop

Now let’s get some Millennial foot traffic! Take an “omni-channel” or “omni-commerce” approach by connecting your brick-and-mortar activities with everything you do online.

To be omni-commerce, a business needs three things:

  1. Accurate in-store inventory that is visible online at all times.
  2. Calls-to-Action such as Reserve In-Store or Click & Collect.
  3. Social media campaigns that promote and reward in-store visits.

More often than not, Millennial customers begin their shopping experiences by searching on the internet, especially the mobile web. Having 100% of your in-store inventory available online will not only make your business visible to them, but it will also allow local customers to search your stock, enticing them to visit your physical location. This is where your Call-to-Action will prove its importance.

Here’s our beginner’s guide for retailers on how to seamlessly connect your in-store and e-commerce experiences.

“When they come in the store or shop online, they’re going to have a lot of questions. They’re going to expect you to be able to answer those questions and understand that they want to have conversations,” observes Georganne Bender.

Gift Cards = More Revenue and…Retail Foot Traffic!

First Data’s study also found that, in general, gift cards continue to be a major source for increased revenue for retailers with no signs of slowing down: 69% of study respondents said they spent more than the value of their gift cards at the store.

Offering the right mix of virtual and plastic cards is more important than ever.

Make Sure Your Product Mix is On-Trend and High-Margin

This may seem obvious, but the last thing you want is to drive customers to your shop and have nothing relevant for them to purchase.

As mentioned above, Millennials are interested in small, indie brands — which bodes well for smaller retailers who curate unique, “hidden gem” products offered at great prices. This is where you’ll want to make sure you are spotting and shopping for high-margin wholesale items.

1.) Product Trendspotting on Social Media

millennial trendspotting

In order to ensure your product mix is relevant to a younger audience, you have to do a little product trendspotting on all of the key social media channels such as Instagram, Pinterest, and Polyvore. They’ll be your secret weapons as you build an amazing new product wishlist for your shop or site (and validate what you’re already carrying).

We’ve included step-by-step tips to find just the right trending product on:

Polyvore | Pinterest | Instagram

2.) Trade Shows

Next, visit trade shows to find and create relationships with vendors who sell the products you need. Didn’t you hear? Trade shows are the new internet.

Learn how to perfectly prep for a trade show visit here.

Gray’s OK

Lastly, don’t neglect older generations in your quest for younger profits. Yahoo just released a study stating Gen-X has the highest spending power today and, according to Bender’s research, Baby Boomers still account for 50% of consumer expenditures. 

Want more advice like this?  Attend ASD Market Week, July 31-August 3 – it’s the largest merchandise trade show and retail education conference in the U.S. with over 90 expert retail, social media, and e-commerce strategy sessions to help your business. Get your free ticket here.

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