We all know millennials are changing the face of business and industry. And nowhere is this more apparent than in retail. In all developed economies, the traditional “High Street” is either disappearing fast – or evolving quickly to survive. The same is true across almost all industries.
The truth is that millennials have grown up with technology. Most can’t remember a pre-internet age and increasingly few can remember a time before smartphones. So, today, we want everything here and now, delivered quickly and easily. This calls for creativity and technological excellence from e-commerce sites and apps.
A good UK example is the way we engage with The National Lottery. The Lottery has been around for close to a quarter of a century. Today, most young people who play the National Lottery will play the lottery online but the way we engage with it has evolved and is continuing to do so – particularly for millennials.
And this is a fiercely competitive world that can change quickly. Around half the UK’s total population – 32 million people – play the Lottery regularly. This is a huge business. And, for millennials, a creative approach like Lottoland’s app is of paramount importance. In fact, it’s a prerequisite.
Of course, the same is true in all forms of retail – but it is even more acute when there are invisible or “paper” transactions only, as with the Lottery or insurance deals, banking, gambling, and a whole host of other business areas.
As millennials age, so their purchasing power increases. So, for tomorrow’s economy, it goes without saying that technological excellence becomes more important still. Today’s millennial consumers use multiple devices to buy the things they want and their mobile devices have already become handheld wallets.
So, retailers have to provide user-friendly and well streamlined processes to engage and retain millennial customers. This is why coffee chains use dedicated apps, for example, to enable customers to pay more easily whilst simultaneously giving them extra perks like regular discounts or free drinks.
But it goes a lot further than this. According to one study, millennials’ parents are changing their shopping habits to mimic those of their children. And the knock-on effect of this is that old ways of retailing will fall by the wayside, inevitably, and at an increasing pace as they can no longer rely on the older demographic market.
This is proven in the decline of the UK High Street. Figures in the run-up to Christmas 2017 showed that decline happening at its fastest rate for five years – yet the ability to shop easily online has been with UK consumers now for 20 years.
The decline of traditional retail has been widely predicted for a long time but, now, it seems, it’s finally actually happening. Quite where all the cards will fall remains unclear. But what is clear is that retailers everywhere need to engage with millennials in the way millennials want to be engaged – or they surely face extinction. And, for the traditional High Street, that means offering an experience somehow that simply cannot be replicated online.