How Millennials are Reshaping the Buying Experience

Posted by: Maricel Tabalba

Are you tired of the word “Millennials” yet? Well, if so, you might want to reacquaint yourself with the largest generation ever – because their impact, and spending power, is going to continue to grow. Millennials are a technologically connected demographic, and as consumers, they have annual buying power in the hundreds of billions, and that’s just in the United States alone. With this potent mix of money smarts and tech-savviness, Millennials are reshaping the buying experience. Namely, through e-commerce.

Small businesses, large corporations, seasoned entrepreneurs, ad agencies and marketing firms alike should all know by now that Millennials love buying online. Using their array of increasingly smart devices, Millennials are opting for newer technologies like digital wallets, on-demand apps, Bluetooth and digital assistants, just to name a few. Indeed, brand marketers looking to grab the attention (and wallet-share) of this crucial consumer demographic need to be aware of the latest payment trends in retail.

These trends include:

Mobile payments

With the introduction of the smartphone, a whole new way to do business surfaced. No longer confined to the brick-and-mortar stores whose hours and distance undercut convenience, consumers could access purchasing options from their personal phone at all hours of the day – or night. All the major mobile devices have since created their unique versions of digital wallets, the most popular being Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. Apple’s system in particular has recently experienced significant growth, suggesting strong demand for mobile payments in the years to come. To retain a strong Millennial customer base accustomed to the one-click-go seamlessness, businesses need to capitalize on this preferred payment method.

On-Demand

While e-commerce certainly makes the shopping experience more convenient, there is the still typically a waiting period. It takes anywhere from several days to a week to receive a product by mail, even in today’s modern market. Anything faster, such as overnight or expedited, comes with a price tag many consumers shy away from. By providing their millions of customers free two-day shipping, Amazon Prime has begun to revolutionize the delivery process. In fact, “One-Click” is trademarked by the retail giant. This proves there is, indeed, demand for “on-demand” purchases.

Additionally, millions of consumers now purchase products online and then pick them up in stores. Location tracking is even poised to notify stores about a customer’s whereabouts in order to have products readily available and without the hassles of long lines. Even drones, long-used for recreational activities, can see some shipment action and greatly expedite the delivery process if approved for commercial usage by the FCC. Businesses across the board can definitely benefit from having a user-friendly app that provides tracking, in-store pick up and quick delivery.

Bluetooth

Payment via this wireless technology is quickly making inroads in younger Millennial tech-ready crowds. Bluetooth is set to optimize the best of smartphone capabilities: seamless information transfer, complimentary wireless technology and streaming of data. One of the most popular phones on the market, the iPhone 7, is one such example of a phone integrating the great potential of Bluetooth for payments. As Millennials’ phones, fitness trackers and cars become increasingly integrated via Bluetooth, consumer purchases are likely to be just a command away.

Personal Assistants

A perennial complaint from Millennials is information overload. With the sheer amount of things commanding their attention – school, work, friends and families, social lives, living arrangements (they are, after all, the most mobile group) —  Millennials have many things on their minds. Like the iOS system that organizes and streamlines the life of the protagonist in the movie “Her,” digital assistants are on track to make life more manageable for millions.

Amazon’s Alexa, for instance, can do everything from play music, to provide weather updates to integrate with other smart home features (among many other things), and she can certainly help you buy things. With their ability to track consumer behavior, digital assistants are also able to know a person’s location, determine potential products of interest to that specific consumer, and send notifications of potential offers, savings and reviews.

The Sharing Economy 

Millennials live and travel in groups. Friends eating at a local restaurant during a night out on the town and young colleagues hitching a ride through Lyft to the airport share one thing in common: their need to divide the payment. There is significant consumer demand for this convenient service. It simply makes things faster and easier, two hallmark features desired by today’s consumers, especially Millennials. Businesses, whether existing completely in the digital sphere or as a chain of brick-and-mortar stores, will certainly benefit from payment processing technologies that tap into the growing sharing economy.

Loyalty and Interaction

One thing research has shown again and again is that Millennials love customer rewards, along with access to companies directly for feedback and complaints. Savvy companies are harnessing social media to that end. In fact, Millennials not only expect companies to be on social media but to be active on it. This is the place where Millennials are often first exposed to brands and choose to become customers. This is particularly true for Millennial women, including mothers, with 95 percent choosing to follow brands on social media channels. Why? This allows them to know the latest updates and, as a loyal follower, earn rewards that lead to additional discounts and perks.

In 2017 and beyond, businesses must keep up with changing consumer payment preferences driven by Millennials. Shopping will continue to move deeper into the online space and become increasingly focused on the ideas of handheld, on-demand and instantly gratifying. These demands are already being met by some major companies like Amazon, but big box retailers, small businesses and others will need to likewise broaden their digital approach to remain connected to the consumers they seek.  

About Maricel Tabalba

Maricel Tabalba is a freelance contributor for Credit.com who is interested in writing about personal finance for Millennials and college students. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Communication from...See Maricel's full bio.

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