If you were to guess whether millennials prefer to buy online (on their phones) or in brick-and-mortar stores, what would you guess? No Googling, either.

If you guessed online, you are wrong. Per the Trendsource 2017 Retail Industry Report, it seems that millennial shoppers prefer physical stores for fashion, home improvement, and electronics. This news is ideal for retail, a sector repeatedly told they are the Beta Max or Laser Disc of tomorrow's commerce preferences.

Here are some other highlights from the report pertinent to retail venues:

  • The respondents ranked online sites higher for product availability and variety of selection in these three categories (e.g., fashion, home improvement, and electronics), but brick-and-mortar higher for customer service and returns and exchanges.
  • There was no clear winner for better pricing between online and in-store per the responses.
  • 85% of electronics shoppers, 83% of fashion customers, and 88% of home improvement shoppers said the primary reason they buy in the store was immediacy.
  • 87% of in-store fashion shoppers want to try stuff on, but only 34% of in-store fashion shoppers want help from sales associates.
  • Electronics shoppers (70%) and home improvement shoppers (62%) do want advice from sales associates.

To download the full report from Trendsource, please click here.

Other research confirms these results. Chief strategy officer for CouponFollow Michael Parrish DuDell found that 53% of millennials buy most of their stuff at a physical store. Moreover, a whopping 76% of millennials research online before they buy anything but then 67% buy in-store after the research (the other 33% buy online). Citi Retail Services, a division of Citi Group, also reported last month that 72% of millennial parents planned to do their back-to-school shopping in a store rather than online.

It's clear that many millennials still buy in physical retail stores, at least for now. That means that your customer experience can benefit a lot from finding ways to appeal to the emotions of the largest of the generational groups:

So, what do millennials value? A few things, including these three:

  1. An omnichannel approach. Millennials believe that what they read on their mobile and see on their desktop is the same thing, which is different than their older generational counterparts. So, ensure that when you present your products that you are living up to their expectations. Your message should adapt to all the venues they access, and it should be the same.
  2. Being socially responsible. Per Deloitte's Millennial Survey 2017, 76% of millennials say business has a positive impact on the world, but they also think business could do more, particularly at the multi-national level. If you can communicate how you advocate for change and make the world a better place at your store (e.g., charitable contributions for your purchase, fair-trade practices, social programs your brand supports, etc.), you could attract these socially conscious shoppers to your store. Best of all, you also make the world a better place.
  3. Online reviews. The vast majority of consumers today (81%) research online before making a big purchase (e.g., electronics or home improvement). Online reviews of your store, associates, experience, products can help drive more business to your brick-and-mortar locations. So, solicit them. Ask your customers to review their experience and incentivize them if you can. And, don't forget about social media's "unofficial" reviews. Always monitor and respond to customer feedback that you receive on the various sites.

Millennials still shop in retail stores more than online, at least for fashion, home improvement and electronics, which is great news for retail. Ensure that you have an omnichannel approach, a socially responsible agenda, and plenty of online presence and you can attract them to your location--and attract profits to your bottom line.

What other ways can you attract millennials to retail? We'd all love to hear your input in the comments below.