10/08/2015

By Phil Adams, Client Success Manager at vee24


Millennials spend a great part of their time on the internet, not just to learn, communicate and organise their social lives but to shop too. And for retailers, this means understanding more about how to engage with this demographic and working out what they require from a shopping experience. It’s a myth that millennials have abandoned physical stores in favour of online shops. In fact many millennials still prefer to visit a store. But the fact remains that ecommerce is growing and more and more people are shopping directly from their mobile devices.

Research from Accenture highlights that 68% of Millennials demand an integrated, seamless experience regardless of the channel. So perhaps this one area where retailers can improve – by creating an online experience that is closer to the in-store experience. After all, everybody – Millennials included - still values ‘old school’ shopping experiences where the seller-buyer conversation is face-to-face. Accenture’s research also found that Millennials demand a customer-centric shopping experience and like to be treated like valued customers.

Look to the East

A lesson in online retailing can certainly be learnt from the East. Chinese retailers are taking interactive consumer engagement and social e-commerce to the next level via social media platforms like Weibo and WeChat, helping shoppers throughout the entire purchasing process via live chat and ongoing customer service. And it works.

UK retailers too are adjusting their customer service strategies to provide a better customer experience for Millennials and other shopper demographics. It is pointless to invest huge amounts of money in a series of digital marketing channels to attract shoppers to your website, only to have customers take a couple of clicks around your site and then leave because they could not find what they were looking for or did not understand a specific product. It is imperative that your website allows you to engage with your online customers and that these same customers have a clear path to purchase and a smooth checkout process.

Live video assistance is the perfect tool to make your site more hospitable. It engages your customer by inviting them to talk to an assistant via live video, giving them a more personal service and making them feel valued. Customers can actually see the person they’re talking to, ask for help with form filling, seek advice, make inquiries and share screens to co-browse the website and go through the check-out process. The communication between consumer and retailer becomes a dialogue – much like a conversation you’d have in store.

Live video assistance is a huge growth area. If you haven’t seen it yet on a website, it is only a matter of time before you do – and it’s not just a nice to have new gimmick. There are sound business benefits to engaging with online customers via live video, including high customer service scores; fewer shopping baskets are abandoned; average order value increases and there’s a 4-fold increase in conversion rates v unassisted browsing.

DFS is using it to help customers making purchasing decisions on sofas and shoe retailer Schuh is using video assistance to co-browse its product range and answer queries from the website. When it comes to privacy and safety, the advisor has no access to the customer’s desktop or computer and therefore none of the customer’s personal data.

This is a major step forward from the customer service we receive via text chat – where the customer service agent will be dealing with multiple conversations at one time.

Another way to stay ahead of the game is to optimise the way in which you interact with customers over their mobile devices. Not just Millennials, but most people these days spend an increasing amount of time on their mobile devices (mobile usage in the UK alone increased to 68% in 2014 from 62% in 2013). Having a live video assistance functionality which works well on mobile is an absolute must.

Conclusion

We can’t ignore any shopper demographic and Millennials are no exception – they are a difficult group to bracket, but ultimately they want very similar things to other consumers and can be exceptionally loyal customers provided they feel they’ve been treated well.

If you provide a smooth, personalised digital shopping experience, Millennials will ultimately be great ambassadors for your brand, which in turn means good return on investment for your business.