If the holiday shopping season has taught us anything, it’s the growing importance and continued evolution of an omnichannel strategy. Consumers now expect a seamless experience across every channel, whether it be from a website, app or brick-and-mortar location all the way to opening the package. One demographic in which this consistency is especially important is for younger shoppers.
As separation between retail channels grows blurrier each day, emerging brands and retailers must focus on creating the most effective omnichannel experience. By doing so, they can build long-term loyalty and increase the lifetime value of Millennial and Gen Z customers who have strong buying power.
Put It In the Palms of Their Hands
More than half (54%) of Millennials and Gen Zers prefer shopping online, particularly via smartphones (38%), according to a 2017 Fluent report. Younger shoppers are much more active on mobile, as 82% of those who participated in the report stated they bought a product using their mobile device in the past six months.
Most people - especially those in the younger demographic - research products online before buying. This makes online channels the first touchpoint, so brands need to make strong impressions via digital channels or risk losing both online and offline sales. The proper digital strategy can also persuade shoppers to walk into a store for the final purchase, with the end goal of increasing the total transaction via additional purchases.
‘Talk’ to Them
Purchasing through intelligent assistants is growing, and brands and retailers need to incorporate it into their omnichannel experience. Thirty-five percent (35%) of younger Americans used an assistant to make a purchase in the past six months. Voice search - whether it is via Siri, Alexa, or some other virtual assistant - is going to be a major influence in 2018, so the most effective omnichannel strategy will leverage this technology.
Brands must understand their customers or face repercussions. Using big data, brands can tailor offers to customer wants and needs, to not only increase sales but build a stronger relationship with shoppers. It’s a necessity, as consumers are likely to switch brands if a company doesn’t personalize communications and anticipate their needs.
A 360° Experience
Creating a seamless shopping experience is imperative with Millennials and Gen Zers, as they are more likely to use various shopping options. This includes buying in-store and shipping to their home; reserving a purchase online and picking up in a store; and buying online and shipping directly to a home or office.
Younger consumers are also more likely to engage in showrooming - the practice of seeing something at a retail location, then buying the item online. An effective omnichannel strategy will achieve the consistency necessary to make these positive transactions for consumers.
It’s not only about building long-term relationships with younger demographics. Brands who create a consistent experience between online and in-store can reap immediate financial benefits in the month ahead. Industry estimates predict that almost half of shoppers who receive a holiday gift purchased online expect to be able to return it in-store. Brands can benefit from this increased foot traffic to influence a purchase by displaying discounted items and placing them in the front of the store or near customer service and return desks.
Importance of Logistics
Fulfillment and inventory management play key roles in the successful implementation of an omnichannel strategy. The proper third-party logistics (3PL) company can help brick-and-mortar retailers improve delivery times and associated costs to meet online shoppers’ expectations of free and fast shipping. An experienced 3PL with omnichannel experience can also assist with fulfillment services, such as click-and-collect, ship-to-store, and ship-from-store, that are appealing to all customers, particularly Millennials and Gen Zers.
The holiday season may have placed a spotlight on the successes and limitations of a brands’ and retailers’ current omnichannel implementations. Evaluating these factors and making any necessary adjustments can lead to building loyalty with Millennials and those in Generation Z that can pay short- and long-term dividends.
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