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Why millennials are driving the ecommerce agenda - and what this means

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6th Jan 2015
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Millennial consumers are a generation tsunami. They have grown up with an inherent understanding of technology and are early adopters of everything from mobile to digital wallets and social media. However, as this new generation rises to prominence, organisations recognise that they have to continually adapt their engagement strategies to remain relevant to an audience that is increasingly mobile, visual, social and collaborative.

Earn engagement

The rise of a millennial generation is also creating a significant cultural shift. Unlike generations before, millennials have grown up with unparalleled access to communication and exposure to the media. This has created a peer-group that has a different brand value system. With information at their fingertips, millennials demand authenticity from the brands that they engage with and research by Google has shown that they will use 10.4 sources of information to make a single purchasing decision.

For businesses, this means that they have to earn every new sale with a customer that is demanding more information than ever before. Regardless of touchpoint, consumers want to have a full view of the products being sold – everything from where products are produced to inventory levels and customer reviews. Brands need to be able to anticipate what information is needed to push customers towards that vital point of sale and deliver it as part of a unique customer experience.

Connect the dots

The shopping preferences of millennials are also very different from past generations. Millennial consumers spend less time in-store and are much more likely to purchase items online using a variety of different devices. As millennial consumers continue to drive the migration towards ecommerce, the ability to have a holistic view of the information available will be of increasing importance.

This is a generation that is hungry for convenience so brands need to be able to connect the dots between supplier, location, customer and product information in real-time. For example, the rise in click-and-collect initiatives means that retailers need to be able to let consumers immediately know which stores they can use to pick products up. Alternatively, if a product has sold-out in-store then retailers need to be able to identify whether online orders can be fulfilled from another store, supplier or distribution centre in real-time.

ecommerce engagement

Furthermore, having real-time data is essential to catering for consumers that expect open communication and social collaboration. Successful organisations are adapting to this shift by creating data-driven customer engagement strategies that are centred around experiences, personalisation and emotion.

However, the ability of brands to create relevant eCommerce campaigns relies on their ability to generate a single view of the customer across multiple channels. For example, Starbucks is looking to drive footfall in-store over the festive period using geo-targeted campaigns. The company will track the device ID of its mobile consumers to deliver location-based mobile ads and monitor the specific promotions that are most successful at driving a lift in store visits. This highlights the role that a single customer view can have in helping businesses understand when, where and how close mobile customers are. By having this understanding, it is possible to bridge the traditional bricks-and-mortar experience with the online channels.

Achieving ecommerce relevancy

In an ultra-competitive retail world, brands need to be able to monitor how a consumer is engaging with the business to connect the data and provide personalised information that drives the purchasing journey across all touch points. Only then can companies start to create dynamic, personalised campaigns that invite consumer participation and appeal to a millennial generation. 

Ultimately, today’s consumers know the information that brands are collecting about them and expect them to use it to deliver a commerce experience on their terms. This is a generation that recognises the power of online channels and expects a bi-directional relationship with the brands that they engage with. By keeping this in mind and refining their approach, organisations can achieve not only ecommerce relevancy, but rather relevance across the entire retail and commerce pantheon. Customer interaction and experience, across all sales and service channels needs to become more relevant. Those that are willing to embrace this change will also witness their brand evolve into something bigger and take omni-channel to the next level.

Ben Rund is senior director at Informatica

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