Millennials Aren’t Giving Up On Stores — They Just Want An Enhanced Shopping Experience

Millennials haven’t abandoned in-store shopping — but 71 percent of them believe a significantly enhanced retail experience would increase their in-store visits and purchases, according to findings from ROTH Capital Partner’s Millennial Survey.

The report also finds that the demographic is likely to research brands and products via digital means before shopping in stores: 43 percent prefer this method, compared to just 32 percent who prefer to complete the entire transaction online. And as we wrote earlier this year, approximately 82 percent of Millennials believe its important for a brand to have physical stores — compared to only 69 percent of Gen-X and 65 percent of Baby Boomers, according to a report from eMarketer.

At first glance, it’s surprising that the digital native generation (67 percent of Millennials say that they prefer to shop digitally) values brick-and-mortar more than any other demographic. But there isn’t a disconnect: Millennials simply want the option to shop both online and offline — and they even want to shop on their mobile devices while they’re in their favorite stores.

Improving The In-Store Experience

So, how can marketers deliver on the promise of a better in-store experience?

By now, it’s a given that brands need to give all customers the choice of how they prefer to purchase in a seamless, omnichannel manner. But two initiatives stand out for reaching millennials in particular.

The first is buy online, pick up in-store programs. Because millennials are reportedly likely to find inspiration online and to pick out products there before coming into a store, the option for in-store pick up let’s them complete the transaction even more quickly — though they may still choose to browse in the store once they arrive. In fact, across demographics, most shoppers make an additional purchase during in-store pickup.

In terms of improving the retail experience, stores functioning as digitally-equipped showrooms, like Blue Nile, have seen success with this demographic: Shoppers can look at and experience the retailer’s wares in person, but they can still place their order on mobile if they wish. Additionally, store associates equipped with iPads make it easier for shoppers to get the information they want — without having to wait in line for one checkout kiosk.

“Millennials want to be a part of the brand experience,” Alison DaSilva, EVP at Cone Communications, a firm specializing in cause marketing and sustainability, told eMarketer. “They want to see and touch the impact they have, and [that extends] to the companies they [patronize].”

They just don’t want to have to wait in line to do it.