Millennials DO Shop at Stores

Many in the retail industry believe that millennials are responsible for the decline of brick and mortar stores. Popular belief is that these digital natives are always connected to their devices and purchase products online at the expense physical stores.

According to our survey of over 1,000 U.S. consumers, this myth is false. We found that millennials visit brick-and mortar stores far more often than the baby boomers and Gen Xers.

56 percent of millennials shop in stores at least once per week, which includes convenience and grocery stores. Compared to this, only 27 percent of baby boomers and 44% of Gen Xers go into stores every week. When asked why they love shopping in stores, millennials answered:

  • “I don’t have to wait for products” (63%)
  • “I like to hold, touch and test products before I buy them” (59%)
  • “I enjoy browsing stores” (57 percent)
  • “I can get advice from store associates” (41%).

Another important distinction was made between the ages. A large portion of millennials stated that they shop “usually because it’s enjoyable, even if they don’t purchase anything.” However, the majority of Gen Xers and baby boomers said they “usually only shop when I need to.”

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The challenge for retailers trying to appeal to the millennial market is to make it a positive experience. This includes targeted social media marketing and email marketing, to mobile-optimized physical shops with extensive inventory and knowledgeable associates.

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Tune up on Social Media for Millennials

Sixty percent view social media as a valuable source of product information. This is significantly higher than the 25 percent and 45 percent respectively for baby boomers and Gen Xers. It’s not enough to think of social media as one channel. A solid social media strategy is vital.

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To differentiate between Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, retailers need to distinguish which platform works best for each type of customer and product. Incentivizing shares with a discount or entry into a contest is a good way to get millennials to share a purchase on Facebook. Target recipients with a Facebook campaign to encourage them to share the link.

Pinterest is a more aspirational platform for long-term purchases like home furnishings. Make sure you include a link to your Pinterest image so that other pinners can access it. To see what other shoppers and millennials are saying, look into your web analytics.

Millennials use email — Really!

It might seem that millennials view email as an outdated tool, and use it socially and via text messaging. The opposite is true. Our survey revealed that 50% of millennials rely upon email for product information and recommendations, which is significantly higher than the 33% and 38% respectively of baby boomers and Gen Xers.

Millennials love personalized emails that recommend products based upon their browsing and purchase history. It’s easy, efficient and avoids the overwhelming information of a Google search or on a retailer website. Personalized emails are a great way for retailers to anticipate millennial needs and curate their product line.

However, you can’t fully leverage the email opportunity if you use an outdated or basic email marketing solution. Modern solutions are more effective for brands, with capabilities like personalized recommendations, advanced segmentation and commerce data, social media integration, predictive analysis, and predictive analytics.

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Embrace mobile-loving millennials

Retailers who spot a millennial on a smartphone may fear they are price-checking or “showrooming.” However, they may also be sharing an image with a friend or texting about a possible purchase. More than 70% of millennials expect their retailers to offer more mobile technology. It is time to embrace the mobile millennial.

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Signs that say “Free Wi-Fi” are a welcome sign for mobile-loving millennials. One router may not be sufficient to cover an entire store. Therefore, apparel retailers need to ensure that there is strong signal in the rear changing rooms so shoppers can show off their dresses via video chat. A sign such as “Need Help?” can be displayed for shoppers who need assistance. To speak with a store associate, text 55512

Mobile-friendly stores should be accessible to shoppers and not staff. A store associate who is using a smartphone can make it seem like they are not available to customers, whether they are millennials or baby boomers.

Optimize your In-Store Experience

Retailers have always tried to create a positive environment. However, a new look at in-store offerings might be necessary. Promos and discounts are always fun. 79 percent said that special offers were important to their in-store experience. This desire is addressed by emailing coupons for in-store purchase. It also drives foot traffic.

Another way to improve the shopping experience is to use web kiosks where shoppers can view information on a large screen. Smart product placement appeals millennial impulse buying. 48% of millennials say they buy non-grocery items on the spot without doing any research. This is a lot higher than the 28 percent of baby boomers and 30 percent of Gen Xers.

When asked what was most important in-store they answered 88 percent with easy checkout followed by availability and inventory (85 percent). Although you may not be able to keep all items in stock, it is possible to ensure sales associates have the tools they need to “save a sale” by equipping them with mobile devices that allow them to check product availability at other locations and arrange for a ship to store transaction for later pickup.

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Our survey shows that millennials are not responsible for the decline in brick-and-mortar retailers. Retailers can benefit from new strategies to attract and delight the highly-coveted millennial market.


Starbucks will close 150 stores next year

Starbucks will close 150 stores that are not performing well next year. This is three times the number of stores it usually closes. These stores are mostly located in densely populated areas with Starbucks. Investors were informed late Tuesday by the company that same-store sales are expected to grow only 1 percent in the next quarter. This is lower than its previous guidance. Starbucks closed nearly 8,000 stores in order to provide mandatory anti-bias training for approximately 175,000 employees on May 29. This was after two black men were detained at a Philadelphia store while they waited for a friend. Howard Schultz, the outgoing chairman, stated that the training cost Starbucks “tens to millions.”

Total Retail’s View: The key point here is that affected stores are located in densely populated areas with Starbucks. This is not a case where the coffee brand is losing consumers — just look at the lines at Starbucks at any convention center this year that has hosted retail conferences, including the Javits Center at NRF Big Show and McCormick Place. It’s more about oversaturation in certain markets. You can see a Starbucks at every corner in Manhattan, Chicago, San Francisco, and other urban areas. This level of store penetration can lead to diminishing returns. It seems Starbucks is there.


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