Millennials, or Gen Y and e-commerce go hand-in-hand. The generation that’s grown up on technology loves to shop online, too. But don’t count brick and mortar out quite yet.
The 80 million people in the U.S. who fall between the ages of 18 and 35 spend more than $200 billion a year across all categories of merchandise, and going to the mall or a brick-and-mortar retailer offers them a welcome relief from the tyranny of extreme connectivity.
A survey conducted by the Urban Land Institute polled 1,251 millennials both online and via a focus group at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business, reports the Baltimore Sun. The data revealed that this generation is multichannel, and shows little preference for one kind of store over another.
But this is the the most telling statistic—more than half of millennials go to a physical retailer at least once a month. That includes malls, department stores, discount retailers and chain apparel stores.
Gen Y and e-commerce: Omnichannel matters
While it’s also true that 45 percent of Gen Y spends at least an hour a day looking at retail websites online, it would be a critical error to ignore the importance of the real-life shopping experience. About 70 percent of women and half of men surveyed said they consider shopping at a brick-and-mortar location a form of entertainment.
Abandoning the retail store completely (or letting it languish) to invest in other channels is strategic suicide when it comes to lassoing the potential revenue from a huge portion of the population that is just beginning their material lives—buying work clothing, outfitting households, throwing weddings and baby showers, and more.
A great example of a company doing omnichannel right is Macy’s, the CEO of which recently said that a key plank of that brand’s success is the fact that it still relies heavily on sales from brick-and-mortar locations.
This is the next generation of consumer, and they are sending retailers a message that is loud and clear: We want to see, touch, taste and feel before we buy—in other words, a true omnichannel experience is what shoppers demand.