Retailers worrying about millennials ditching their stores in favor of mobile purchasing may be focused in the wrong direction.
Millennials are participating in mobile shopping in a big way but they still favor going to the store.
As might be expected, most (63%) millennials shop on their smartphones every day, according to a new study.
However, when it comes to purchasing, the majority (53%) of purchases are made in stores, according to the generational research conducted by Alliance Data.
Some (39%) millennials are purchasing online, of course, just as are other consumers. And for millennials, most (65%) are comfortable making those online purchase with their phones.
Here’s the catch: while most millennials do buy in physical stores, they’re actively using their phones in the process.
The study found that 84% of millennials use smartphones in stores to assist with their shopping.
The majority (53%) use their phone in a store to research for a discount or coupon, which is consistent with other studies.
Many (65%) of them also use their smartphones while waiting in line to buy something.
But at the end of that line, the smartphone may be headed back to pocket of purse. Paying by mobile is hardly high on the list, with only 14% using their phones to pay, much to the dismay of many mobile payment providers.
The key is that millennials are using their phones all the way through the entire purchasing journey, what I call the Mobile Shopping Life Cycle.
For example, about a third (34%) use their phones for looking at product reviews. Interestingly, despite all their mobile savviness and activity, 42% of millennials still use old-school printable coupons that they download.
Phones are used after purchases as well, with 16% sharing at least one item over social networking, often including photos snapped via smartphone. Purchases by some (22%) millennials also are influenced by social activity of their friends.
Like other mobile commerce consumers in numerous studies, millennials look for deals, with frequent visits to couponing and comparison shopping sites.
Just as the early days of the commercial Web, many thought traditional purchasing would be replaced, which to some degree has occurred.
Mobile ultimately turned shopping into a continuous process rather than one that was serial, as in ‘I’m going shopping now.’
Consumers still are ‘going shopping now,’ but the meaning of now has changed to mean ‘all the time’ or ‘whenever I want.’
Rather than worrying about how consumers will migrate from shopping at their stores to buying via mobile, the focus should be holistically on the entire Mobile Shopping Life Cycle.
This means engagement and influence while a consumer is in research mode at home, in transit, on location, at the product level, at the point of sale and after the sale.
All of this is happening all the time.
While a consumer shopping in a store may look the same as in past years, it is different.
Mobile shoppers are informed in totally new ways and they can scan and price check in seconds. They may leave the store and go to another that has a better deal, rather than asking the retailer if they will match a competitor’s price, which retailers like Best Buy and Stables ultimately embraced.
Many others have not and they lose the sale. Trouble is, they may not necessarily see it, since a mobile shopper looks just like shoppers in past years, except they have a phone in-hand.
In the hands of a consumer, that phone is an instant gateway to the entire world of products and pricing. And that genie isn’t going back into any bottle.