With the rise of digital commerce and marketplaces, consumers have changed both the way they shop and their shopping expectations. For companies to effectively sell and promote their brand, they must deliver a consistent shopping experience across all shopping channels.
While millennials are a group of roughly 80 million in the United States alone, each year they spend approximately $600 billion (accenture). This is a highly digital consumer with incredible purchasing power. In the following paragraphs, we will highlight each shopping channel and how it should be used to best speak to millennial consumers to address the top goal: speak to the target market and provide them a seamless omni-channel shopping experience.
The first question that must be addressed is two-fold: How do you guide millennials to your digital commerce site and then how do you keep them there? Our proposed strategy is a marriage between both social media and blog content. By forging partnerships with editors and bloggers that speak to millennials, you can curate lifestyle content that will reach your target consumers. In a study conducted by EliteDaily.com, a millennial focused and millennial loved online publication, found that “millennials look for authenticity when consuming content.” You cannot simply create a blatant advertisement and expect your audience to not see right through it, rather you must carefully curate fascinating, appealing content that tells the story your audience wants to hear, by people they want to hear from.
Two brands that are currently excelling in social commerce realm are Tory Burch and Kate Spade. Both brands have embraced social commerce, and as a company whose main demographic is millennials, this is a channel we simply cannot ignore.
“An estimate 79% of Millennials rely on smartphones to access social media. But that figure is only a portion of the picture. The other half of the picture is how often Millennials rely on smartphones to make online purchases – that figure rounds to 44%” (benchmarkblog).
Nearly half of the target audience is making purchases on smartphones. To give them a better shopping experience, let’s review what Kate Spade and Tory Burch are doing:
The first image depicts a shoppable Instagram post. You can see the shopping bag icon in the corner which is a subtle way to let viewers know they can shop the look. The white dots (which appear when you pause to view the image) indicate which items are shoppable. Upon clicking on the dots, the item name and price appear. The final image is the page that appears once you click on the item name. This gives a chance to add an enticing product description and finalize the path to purchase.
Companies would benefit by implementing social commerce, as it would be another avenue for millennials to make a purchase. Instagram is among the top three social apps used by millennials – with many users scrolling through their feed several times a day. By sharing compelling imagery and content, you can entice buyers in an unexpected way.
Social commerce will also act as an extension of blog content. Select blog images would be resized for social and then made shoppable within the Instagram platform. This ensures your branding and campaign strategy remains the same across the various channels your consumers are tuning into to learn more about your brand.
By creating a comprehensive marketing plan that includes captivating blog features and social, and ensuring that they tell the same story, you can maximize our exposure. This content should also be shared across secondary social channels i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snap Chat, Tumblr to encourage users to then “share” with their network and extend our visibility to a wider audience.
BRICK AND CLICK
As you further expand upon our digital strategy, it is important to factor in traditional brick and mortar retail locations. These stores likely do not carry your entire line, nor can they compete with the likes of Amazon who can support selling the full range. However, by bringing your digital commerce store to brick and mortar, you are giving our retailers an endless aisle of virtual inventory. A best practice would be to incorporate a kiosk with your product displays and include samples for consumers to touch and feel. The touchscreen kiosk will allow consumers to shop your full product range.
During checkout, you should also allow consumers to have their purchase shipped directly to their home or to the store for pickup (free of charge). Of course, consumers will still be able to walk into a store, fall in love with your product, and walk out of the store with it. This strategy simply enables consumers to have access to the full product line in stores. This is a good way to combat “Showrooming” where consumers spend hours in a retail store familiarizing themselves with the merchandise and then complete the purchase online via the site that offers the best deal.
In the age of omni-channel commerce, a branded digital commerce site is the hub of information. This is a place consumers and prospective consumers can come to fully immerse themselves in a brand and begin their customer journey. Upon landing on the site, consumers with the intent to purchase have two paths, the first being reviewing product information. This consumer is in the research phase. The site researchers need to see reviews, blog posts highlighting compelling features, and any other helpful information to guide them to making the right purchasing decision. Based on their research, they will either purchase online, continue their search in a retail location, try their luck shopping a marketplace or search other brands.
The second path is the one taken by brand enthusiasts, these people are already fans of the brand, they know your story and product whether from personal experience or word-of-mouth. These consumers are here to buy. In fact, 88% of consumers want to buy directly from brands (ecommerceplatforms.com).
In turn, brands have a responsibility to give consumers a world-class shopping experience by minimizing out of stock inventory, maintaining visual consistency (i.e. banners) that match what you are posting on social, and thoroughly QA-ing your site to ensure all functionality is working appropriately. This must be followed up with comprehensive confirmations, tracking information and quick delivery turnaround. If you can master these digital commerce expectations, you can follow up with past purchasers inviting them to submit a review and/or to participate in a ‘Vine Program’ like Amazon’s influencer reviews.
Incorporating the strategy of a forward thinking, best-in-class digital commerce company includes excelling in all commerce channels. While each channel may have a different approach, in the end you offer our consumers a best in class, seamless shopping experience and the most compelling customer journey.