Understanding Millennial Shopping Behavior is Important for Retail Brands.

Millennials enjoy a seamless experience while expecting a high level of convenience across multiple devices and touch-points when it comes to shopping. There has been a profound influence of smartphones and social media in everyday life. Millennials use these mediums substantially and on-the-fly to get assistance while they are shopping in a brick-and-mortar store as well as to search for coupons and other offers.

Though Millennials generally love to shop in a store, they demand cross-channel capabilities so that they can acquire whatever information and help they seek from any channel that is most convenient to them during the shopping journey. To summarize, Millennials and the newer generations expect a lot more, a lot faster, at their own convenience and at desirable prices. All this has forced retail businesses to evolve and this is an ongoing process.

The below infographic depicts certain important trends about Millennial shopping:

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Millennials have been one of the game changers for the retail industry, demanding versatility, flexibility, convenience, and speed from retail brands. Going forward, this generation along with the Gen Y and Gen Z are set to disrupt the retail industry further. It is high time, retail brands take the right steps to understand these consumers and be able to satisfy their demands.

What’s on retailers’ minds for 2018?

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At the NRF Big Show 2018, retail executives and leaders share the areas they are going to focus on this year. Here are a few things they are working on:

1) Retailers will continue to strive for providing more personalized digital experiences.

When asked for views, executives from Macy’s, Neiman Marcus Group and The Children’s Place clearly stated that personalization would be a big focus for them in 2018. Macy’s is continuing to focus on personalization according to an executive, “The whole concept of personalization is simply on steroids right now. It’s all about the consumer in that one moment in time. We’re doing anything we can do to connect directly with consumers and make shopping convenient for them.”

Retailers have worked on improving personalization for many years but it all boils down to customer experience. As such, providing great customer experiences in 2018 will be the result of blending technology with a more personalized touch.

2) Connecting online and offline store experiences will remain a major focus.

Leading retailers such as Macy’s and The Children’s Place are still fervent on ‘omni-channel retail’. Macy’s is continuing to see serious growth in the area of “buy online, pick up in store” (BOPIS). Macy’s executive stated that “physical stores are not going away. Customers will always want the option of coming into the store to try on jeans instead of buying three different sizes online.”

The Children’s Place is also striving towards making it big in digital and using a lot of the omni-channel use cases like BOPIS and ‘Save the Sale’. ‘Save the Sale’ needs store associates to be able to access real-time inventory across the store network. This enables the store associates to address the situation of stock-out and lost sales by helping customers to find their desired item online or at another store location with ease.

3) More retailers will look to leverage voice assistants.

Global Chief eCommerce Officer at Samsonite feels that voice assistants will start taking off in certain categories like consumables. However, categories like fashion may have a harder time to leverage voice. 1-800-Flowers.com having been one of the first retailers to launch an Alexa skill, the CEO & President believes that bots and AI capabilities will enable 1-800-Flowers.com to amplify its personalized experience. He envisions the possibilities, “With voice as the main interface emerging, I think it will bring us back to the retail experience of our first flower shop where we delivered a true 1-to-1 relationship. Voice enables us to have a 1-to-1 relationship with customers on a massive scale.”

4) As artificial intelligence (AI) matures, AI-powered retail applications are gaining adoption.

According to the Global Chief eCommerce Officer at Samsonite, 2018 will be the year that artificial intelligence will have its breakthrough moment. Retailers will start using it to power various parts of the retail and eCommerce experience. 1-800-Flowers.com uses AI to power conversational interfaces like Alexa, Google Assistant and Facebook Messenger, many of which need no human touch at all.

Using AI and its applications in various aspects of retail, retailers are looking to boost their businesses and enhance customer experiences.

5) Personalization, social media and Amazon Marketing Services will be used as acquisition marketing strategies.

The Children’s Place highlighted the importance of personalized marketing strategies. Its personalization strategy began in 2017 when the company hired a data scientist to clean up the customer database. Now that The Children’s Place can connect customer purchases online and in-store, the executive believes that it will aid in making acquisition, engagement and retention strategies more personal,.

Social media also seems to be one of the top marketing priorities for the CEO of Petco. On the flip side, Global Chief eCommerce Officer at Samsonite believes, “Amazon Marketing is going to become as critical to a brand’s marketing strategy as Google and Facebook. Today, Amazon has the return on investment potential of Google Paid Search in 2005 and display ads in 2002.”

Focus on the Consumer, not the Channel

Mono-channel retail and the digital shopper are yesteryear. Today’s consumer is a 360° omni-shopper who researches for and makes her purchases from all angles, as she considers an quickening set of content, payment methods and offers.

Retailers and manufacturers alike must cease to focus on an exclusive channel. In fact, their target must not be the channel, but the master of multiple channels: the omni-shopper. The retailer who does so intelligently will know where to place the next bait. Because the consumer is already looking around and in all probability, is already a step ahead.

ETP blog

Retailers – The Sleeping Giants Of e-Commerce

– Naresh Ahuja

ETP blog retailers-the-sleeping-giant-of-ecommerce

At ETP, as we work with retailers across 20 countries and over 25,000 stores and 500 brands, we have seen tremendous depth in their skills in merchandising, brand management, sales and supply chain management, their understanding of their diverse customers and employees, their ability to manage cycles and seasons and still produce a profit, their infrastructure management, their cash management, so on and so forth.

In the last one year, we have seen these giants waking up to their potential in the eCommerce space. With all their powerful management and execution capability, they could be the game-changers of this new “omni-channel” retail world. Like all large organisations with a legacy and systems and processes in place, they may not be as nimble as the pure-play eCommerce players, however they seem to have got it now and are ramping up their organisations’ technology, culture and capability to play the eCommerce game. At the same time, the eCommerce players have grown and are struggling with the lack of the same competencies that the larger retailers have.

It is a fascinating new battle front and the next couple of years will tell all. My guess is that the winners will be the ones who leverage the core competencies of retail and deploy the technological savviness of eCommerce.

 

This article has been written by:

Naresh Ahuja ETP Naresh Ahuja, Chairman and CEO, ETP Group

Naresh as the Founder, Chairman and CEO of the ETP Group leads the company with a clear focus on bringing enduring value to customers through best practices mirrored in software applications. Spanning 25 years of focus on retail domain expertise and IP development, ETP today, has a strong customer base of market leaders in more than 20 countries across Asia Pacific, India and the Middle East, and is on its way to becoming a global leader in Retail Software Solutions.

Asian Retail – The E-Commerce Effect

Last year eCommerce sales in Asia grew 36% to $615 billion, making it twice as big as the U.S. online retail market. The most illustrious example of this phenomenal growth would be the eCommerce giant Alibaba breaking records with the largest global IPO and raising $25 billion. eCommerce has redefined retail, independent of physical establishments and creating a profitable platform for global expansion. Increasing internet and smartphone penetration has made eCommerce and m-commerce the prime medium to reach consumers in both developing and developed markets. The exploration and expansion of e-commerce in retail has brought powerful technical, logistical, commercial, strategic, behavioral and social dynamism in the market. The popularity of eCommerce is due to many factors, the most basic being easy access to global products, more competitive prices and marketing information with the enjoyment of instant gratification while consuming digital products and services e.g. music, travel tickets, e-books, etc. When these factors are combined with the convenience of avoiding queues and shopping in the comfort of homes and offices, cash-on-delivery at doorstep through personalized service, discounts possible through direct channels, incentivized promotions, and so on, eCommerce becomes not just an off-shoot of retail but the main driver of the industry in Asia, and across the world.

Nike’s brand president Trevor Edwards recently commented on Nike’s mobile traffic exceeding desktop for the first time – “eCommerce has been a winner both from a growth and a profitability standpoint. We are going to continue to invest in digital. We believe that’s where the consumer is and is going. And that’s where our brand is and is going. So we’re going to continue to invest there. But from an economic standpoint, it’s been a very positive driver for business both at top line and bottom line.” He believes this is a signal that the company’s long-term efforts to cash in on cross-channel promotions are starting to take effect.

Following are some pivotal eCommerce trends in Asian retail:

China will exceed $1 trillion in retail eCommerce sales by 2018, accounting for more than 40% of the total worldwide. China’s eCommerce market is forecasted to be larger than those of the U.S., Britain, Japan, Germany and France combined. The future development of China’s eCommerce channel is closely linked to technology developments and also the behavior of Chinese consumers, including the way they research and order products online, and their preference for speed and convenience.

The number of internet users in India soared from approximately 20 million in 2004 to nearly 250 million in 2014. An analysis of the demographic profile of internet users further testifies that eCommerce will rise rapidly in India in the coming years. Around 75% of Indian internet users are in the age group of 15 to 34 years. This category shops more than the remaining population. With a new pro-business government, the eCommerce sector is maturing and a number of serious national and international players are entering the market.

The highest B2C eCommerce growth rate in South East Asia is seen in Indonesia. The fourth most populous country in the world, Indonesia has a relatively low penetration of internet users, evaluated below 30% in 2013. However, by 2016 the number of internet users is projected to top 100 million, with online shopper penetration also increasing. Shopping via smartphones is also on the rise, with some merchants reporting as much as one third of total online sales coming through m-commerce.

Despite its relatively small population, Singapore ranks high in eCommerce indexes due to its developed infrastructure. The highest internet penetration in the region, the world’s highest ranking in ease of conducting business and one of the top 3 best logistics infrastructures in the world with a high-performing payments system make Singapore an attractive market for online retailers.

Vietnam makes for a fertile eCommerce market and as close to 87 million aspiring consumers are taking advantage of increased broadband availability and steadily growing incomes. Its eCommerce industry was valued at $300 million in 2011, but global reports estimate that it has grown and will continue to mature at a rate of 75 percent each year until 2015.

South Korea is the third-largest retail eCommerce market in Asia-Pacific, after China and Japan, and the seventh-largest retail eCommerce market worldwide. Retail eCommerce sales in South Korea are expected to reach $36.76 billion in 2015.

Japan is a strong and mature eCommerce market, with a high proportion of urban population and significant internet penetration rate at almost 80%. 75% of the population have purchased products online, and 89% of this group have done so from a mobile device.