The last two decades have seen a great deal of change in both technology and business. For many of us, exponential growth in technology has created new conveniences, but for some businesses, those “conveniences” have created expenses and what some might consider to be headaches. It seems that just when you have a cost effective and efficient system in place, along comes a new system that disrupts the way you connect with your customers.
If the last decade has taught us anything, it is that things are not going to settle back down and return to “normal.” With the new exponential growth curves, changes that used to take two decades to happen may now only take about two years. Those e-commerce giants that are stealing your business are adapting daily —as should you be. In short, get used to the idea of changing how you do business to suit your evolving customer base.
Aside from the changes driven by technology, business owners must also consider a shift in consumers. If today was a starting point, the next ten years will see the last of the baby boomers retire and become very conservative spenders. Meanwhile, millennials, those born between 1980 and 2000, will enter their peak spending years. Their purchases may not mirror the generations that preceded theirs, but they will spend. For example, the millennial idea of buying a first home might be small square footage in a more urban environment with easy walkability to amenities and easy access into the outdoors. It may become harder to sell larger homes in controlled subdivisions that the boomers enjoyed. Also, opportunities to utilize shared transportation may reduce demand for new cars. The list goes on.
Baby boomers were great for business. As a generation, they are fantastic consumers. They upgraded to big homes, filled them with furniture, bought nice new cars often and became comfortable having more debt than their parents did.
Figuring out the millennial generation has been a hot topic as of late. While many of the business leaders in our community raised these new consumers in their household, they don’t all understand how to operate a business built on having them as customers and employees. This is because many of us view how business should be done through the lenses of our own generation or those before us and we are only semi-conscious of the habits of those generations younger than us.
So, time to start strategic planning for capturing those coveted millennial customers, right? Here is the difference—when you did your strategic planning for revenue growth in the past, you planned for improvements to be made over the next year keeping your sights on goals that were five years down the road. Don’t stop doing that, but you also need to plan for changes you can make today.
Here are a few millennial capturing concepts that you might be able to utilize today:
Shut down “showrooming.” It is a myth that Millennials don’t like to shop brick and mortars. They actually prefer it. According to a recent Accenture study, millennials like to touch, feel, and smell a product before buying it. But they are guilty of “showrooming.” That is, going to a store, finding a product they like, and then shopping online for the lowest price. One local retailer shuts this process down by knowing who the online price leaders are in his industry and posting their price next to his. You will often find him posting Amazon’s price and then his, beating it by a penny, and the customer can walk out with the product in hand. Not on every item – just the hottest sellers. This will generate loyal customers who will trust they can come in and find the best price.
Get in on the e-commerce game. Millennials constantly shop online and know exactly what they want before they set foot in your store. This means you have to do a couple of things to retain their business. First, have your products, pricing, and inventory online. This ability to shop online extends beyond retail and into services. Millennial customers will shop with you online after your business is “closed.” And, they may make a purchase online and pick it up in the morning if they can save a few bucks on shipping.
Go mobile. From shopping for products, making reservations, banking, etc. millennials depend heavily on their mobile device. A recent study from Square Inc., found that one in five millennials exclusively get online using their mobile device. Is your website mobile friendly? Contactless payment like Apple Pay and Android Pay are increasing in popularity among millennials and they feel that a coupon right on their phone should be acceptable. Get ahead of the curve and be mobile friendly.
To sum up, be “Speffeazy.” While that is not a real word it should be your mindset. Millennials like speed, efficiency, and ease. While this is not unique to their generation, they will put it to the test and the simplest transactions will always win. If you are in retail, Amazon already has one foot across the starting line, but consumers can actually hold the product at your store. What can you do to win? If you provide a service, can someone find you on their smart device and book an appointment for tomorrow at 3 p.m. with a few simple taps on their screen? From researching the product they want to buy online, finding it available at your store, coming in, and getting out with minimum hassle is the name of the game. .