Everyone wants to talk about Millennials. However, there's more to understanding this generation than the stereotypes that often fill headlines, and it's essential that online retailers get the real scoop. Why?
Take a look at these numbers from Richard Kestenbaum writing for Forbes:
- The 80 million Millennials living in the U.S. today spend around $600 billion each year
- They represent 28% of all daily per-person spending
- By 2030, Millennials will represent 35% of spending
This data suggests that e-commerce retailers can only ignore the shopping preferences of Millennials at great peril to their profits.
The Direct Connection between Product Page Optimization and Millennial Shoppers
There's a lot of advice out there on how to market to Millennials, but you might come up empty when searching for concrete strategies to optimize e-commerce product pages for Millennial shoppers. Despite this, a closer look at consumer buying habits suggests that shoring up the fundamentals of your e-commerce shopping site, from website taxonomy and product attributes to product descriptions, is the surest way to satisfy a rising generation of customers.
1. Make it easy for them to find the product pages they're seeking on your site
The success of your product pages depends on factors that begin before anyone ever sees them. This might seem like a no-brainer, but the first step in turning Millennial browsers into buyers is making it easy for them to find your products. Google search certainly can't be discounted, but too many retailers overlook the necessity of functional on-site search.
In an interview with Jeff Fromm for Forbes, Adeptmind CEO and co-founder G Wu suggests that optimizing search to simplify the shopping experience presents a powerful way to please Millennial shoppers. He observes:
You expect the search feature on a retailer's website to work; yet, how many times have you experienced the "no search results found' message when looking for something you want online?
There's a saying that goes: To find something on a retailer's website, it's better to search first on Google and Amazon. If it's still advantageous to buy from that retailer, maybe because it's cheaper or closer, then go find that exact item. Sometimes an inbound link to a retailer's site might not yield the exact item. Well then, good luck browsing for something similar.
It's important to keep in mind that Millennials are digital natives. They're adept at using the web, and they expect fast, accurate results. Failing to provide those results on your site will send them back to Google, opening up the opportunity for competitors to snag what could've been your sale.
E-Commerce Strategy: If your site isn't using a well-ordered taxonomy populated with consistent, normalized product data, there's little hope of customers conducting a successful search. Additionally, a well-defined category and subcategory structure helps customers manually find what they're seeking, encourages cross-selling and promotes an overall superior shopping experience. Not only will these tactics support search, but they also simplify comparison shopping and build consumer confidence, making you a retailer of choice.
2. Connect your products to the experiences they relate to and crave
What's the biggest difference between Millennial shoppers and their Baby Boomer parents? It might just come down to materialism. According to Bloomberg's Barry Ritholtz, when Millennials shop, they're not interested in simply acquiring things. In fact, what he describes as "sport shopping" and "retail therapy" just isn't as appealing to Millennials as it was to Boomers. Influenced by a changing economy that challenges the permanence of things with the convenience of streaming, gigging and more, it's essential that retail strategies reflect the importance of experiences rather than the purchase of products for fun or the sake of doing so.
Yet that's easier said than done – after all, you can sell a pair of high-end headphones or a mid-century modern sectional, but how do you sell the experience of feeling like the audiophile is at a live concert or the satisfaction of a stylish home that harkens back to a more elegant time?
E-commerce Strategy: Using product descriptions provided by vendors won't evoke the experiences Millennials crave. Duplicate content re-used by dozens of retailers isn't just bad for SEO optimization; it also eliminates an important opportunity to speak to consumers about how a product satisfies a real desire. Commit to producing unique, detailed product descriptions that speak directly to the consumer's lifestyle. Doing so positions products in the context of what the customer truly values and helps bridge the gap between item and experience.
3. Consider all the ways they want to shop
Millennials are the first generation to fully embrace the smartphone, and they're not just using their mobile devices for social media and games. According to a recent survey of more than 12,000 smartphone users, 85% of respondents claimed their mobile shopping had held steady or increased over the last year. There's no sign that the impact of mobile on e-commerce will slow down any time soon – just check out the prominence of voice search for retail to confirm it.
But there's more going on with Millennial shopping than a simple affinity for mobile. As Marketlingland's Davor Sutija points out, this generation hasn't given up on brick-and-mortar shopping. Research suggests that 50% of Millennials prefer to shop in physical stores when possible. So how does this conflicting data add up?
Let's go back to that survey of 12,000 shoppers. In addition to their mobile buying habits, 90% said they'd made a non-grocery, in-store purchase in the last 3 months, and they didn't leave their smartphone at home. The survey reveals that 90% use their smartphone while shopping in stores for a host of reasons, including 48.4% who reach for their devices to research additional product information.
This suggests an interesting field of opportunity for online retailers who also maintain brick-and-mortar locations. Online content becomes doubly valuable in these circumstances, because it provides an essential resource to customers no matter which channel they ultimately choose for their purchase.
E-commerce Strategy: Without accurate, standardized product data, your shoppers will have to turn elsewhere for product research, whether they shop online or in your stores. Devote resources to cleansing product attributes received from suppliers and manufacturers to ensure consistency and correctness across each item you offer online, and you'll create a comprehensive resource for any shopper who needs more information than an in-store display or a product description alone can provide. Additionally, consistent product information across the board eliminates the uncertainty created by discrepancies and omissions.
Are you doing everything possible to draw a share of the $600 billion in annual Millennial spending? Or are you leaving a valuable portion of consumer spending to your competition? With this generation's spending power and influence continuing to increase, it's essential that retailers structure their product pages with Millennial shoppers in mind.
If you're struggling to find the time, talent and other resources needed to optimize your product data for online retail, consider partnering with Virtucom Group. We'll ensure you're ready to publish complete, accurate, fully normalized product data that's been reviewed by a team of data management experts with more than 15 years of experience serving retailers across the nation. Contact us today to learn more and see what our services can do for your site.