Do you remember that period back in the 2010s when millennials were the butt of every joke? Millennials are ruining the housing industry with their avocado toast eating habits. Millennials are tattooed, mustachioed, flower-crown enthusiasts and little else. Millennials don’t even know what a brick and mortar store looks like because they do so much online shopping. While most of those millennial jokes are barely rooted in any truth, that last claim about millennials leading the charge when it comes to the preference of ecommerce over in-person shopping does hold some weight.
After all, back in 2016 Millennials were already making 54% of their purchases online (an entire 5 points ahead of non-Millennials). However, now that we are over halfway through 2021 it is becoming increasingly clear that while Millennials (and elder Millennials alike) may have been the first demographic to flock to ecommerce purchasing, they are hardly the last.
Chalk it up to COVID-19 keeping us locked up in our houses for the majority of 2020 or call it the natural progression of consumerism— whatever it is, all signs point to this intergenerational emphasis on online shopping being here to stay. To gain a deeper understanding of how this trend emerged, how ecommerce strategists can navigate it moving forward, and what it all means for order tracking operations read on for a quick analysis of this cultural shift.
Customizing Your Retail Experience for Your Target Demographic
While there are many classic components and typical eCommerce best practices that you’ll want to keep in mind when crafting your retail experience, it is also in your best interest to tailor your online shopping experience to the shopping habits of your target demographic. You know what they say about when you assume— it makes for an unsatisfying eCommerce customer experience.
To optimize your retail experience in order to boost sales and customer retention, take the time to first gain a deeper understanding of the ways in which your target audience shows up, behaves, and makes purchases online. Then, when you know more about their spending and shopping habits, you can make more informed marketing, sales, and customer support decisions.
After this deep dive into the trends of each generation you’ll have gathered enough insights into the best places and ways to connect with audiences in order to optimize the customer experience for your target demographic.
Gen Z Online Shopping Trends
Gen Z is composed of those born after 1997 and is often viewed as a challenging demographic to connect with for retailers. They are a generation with no pre-internet lived experience so they are the most tech-savvy of them all.
So, how do online retailers reach a generation that is innately suspicious of being marketed to? Let’s take a look at their online shopping trends to figure it out:
- To reach a Gen Z audience, a social media presence for your brand is practically a must-have with 26% of the generation reportedly using social media to make purchases last year.
- Gen Zers are wary about their online privacy and security, with only 25% of them feeling like they have control over their personal data online.
- If your ecommerce site isn’t optimized for mobile, it could be costing you big time. Gen Z reportedly spends an average of 4 and a half hours on their phones per day.
- An overcomplicated online checkout experience could be costing you customers, with 28% of Gen Zers considering a streamlined checkout process a purchase driver.
- If you are having trouble connecting with your Gen Z audience, you may want to consider offering free delivery. 58% of Gen Zers report free delivery as a major purchase driver.
- Gen Z is the generation that spends the most time considering peer reviews before making purchases online, with 82% of them saying that peer reviews are “extremely important” to them when shopping online.
Millennial Online Shopping Trends
In 2020, Millennials— the first generation to spend their formative years online— officially overcame Baby Boomers to become the largest generation of consumers at 72.1 million. So, what does this mean for online retailers?
Let’s take a closer look at the recent online shopping trends of Millennials to see how eCommerce strategists can make an impact on this dominating generation:
- Millennials spend $600 billion in the United States each year.
- If you want to boost sales with Millennials, offer in-store pickup for online purchases. 24% prefer purchasing an item online before picking it up.
- As a generation that has been familiar with smart phones since their teenage years if not earlier, 42% of Millennials complete online shopping transactions on their phones.
- Millennials are even more concerned about their online security, with 67% being worried about their personal financial information being hacked.
- When it comes to the online vs in-store shopping debate, it isn’t even a conversation for Millennials with a whopping 91% preferring to shop online.
- When it comes to brand loyalty, Millennials tend to skew to the generic with 60% preferring to purchase generic brands over name brand alternatives.
- About half as many Millennials care about online reviews as much as Gen Zers, with only 40% of Millennials admitting to referring to online reviews and testimonials before making purchases.
- One prominent deciding factor for Millennial consumers is the values, ethos, and mission statement of the brand they are patronizing. 52% of Millennials say they prefer to shop at retailers that align with their personal values.
- To take that one step further, 44% of Millennial parents say they only shop with brands who share their social and political views.
- When it comes to brand loyalty and customer retainment, 81% of Millennials say that being a member of a rewards program is what encourages them to spend more money on that brand.
- However, they are ready for new forms of loyalty programs with 96% of Millennials saying that brands should find new ways to reward loyal customers.
- If you are having a difficult time connecting with a Millennial demographic, consider partnering with a relevant influencer. Millennials are 54% more likely than older generations to buy a product that was recommended by an influencer.
- Last but not least— when all else fails, go for the joke. 43% of Millennials engage with an ad if it’s funny.
Gen X Online Shopping Trends
Ahhh, the elusive Gen X. As the generation that has an equal amount of experience both purchasing online and in-store, your marketing efforts will have to be as optimized as possible to reach this generation. However, they should not be overlooked considering that the average household spending of Gen X ($76, 788) exceeds the national household spending ($63,036) by over a cool ten grand. When all else fails, keep in mind that older Gen Xers share more consumer habits with Baby Boomers than not. Similarly, younger members of Gen X share a lot of their online buying habits with Millennials.
To really set your sights on this lost generation, familiarize yourself with their online shopping habits:
- Gen X really embraced online shopping during COVID-19 lockdown restriction and 27% of them say that they expect this trend to stick moving forward.
- Gen Xers love a deal, with 86% of them saying that they would be willing to try a new brand if they were offered a coupon or discount.
- If you can, try not to disregard more traditional media when it comes to attracting Gen X considering 48% listen to the radio, 62% regularly read newspapers, and 85% watch traditional television.
- When it comes to social media marketing, you’ll want to focus on Facebook to connect with Gen X with 95% being active on the platform.
- Gen Xers don’t blindly make online purchases, 72% of them research businesses online before making purchases.
- To make an impact with Gen X, start by making an effort to acknowledge them in your marketing campaigns. 54% of Gen Xers are frustrated that brands ignore them.
- Gen Xers are notorious for being susceptible to video marketing with 45.8 million of them regularly consuming digital videos. To make a connection, use videos to showcase your products and brand.
Baby Boomer Online Shopping Trends
Baby Boomers, the generation born between 1946 and 1964 are a demographic that has grown to appreciate mobile shopping and is a big fan of email communication. When you consider their monumental $2.6 trillion in buying power and focus on transparency, you can easily gain a new following of loyal Baby Boomers who are ready to invest in your brand.
Let’s take a quick look at their online shopping behavior to figure out how to crack into this demographic:
- Don’t overlook Baby Boomers when it comes to optimizing for mobile, 67% own a smartphone.
- 27% of Baby Boomers ordered groceries online for home delivery in the past year.
- What really gets Baby Boomers amped up for grocery shopping is actually digital coupons, with 41% using them when shopping in grocery stores.
- 47% of Baby Boomers rely on major holiday promotions like Cyber Mondayfor their holiday shopping.
- Speaking of holiday shopping, to avoid the crowds 52% of Baby Boomers prefer shopping online over in-store.
- Unlike the younger generations, when it comes to product recommendations Baby Boomers are more likely to trust personal recommendations than online reviews.
- However, Baby Boomers do leave online reviews with 48% claiming to have left them.
- One of the areas in which they really shine is pet spending, with Baby Boomers making up just over 37% of total pet spending.
- Baby Boomers are informed consumers, with 59% saying that they are willing to pay extra for socially compliant, sustainable products.
- In addition to being socially conscious consumers, Baby Boomers are also health conscious with 72% saying that they read food and beverage labels before purchase.
Why Providing Transparent Order Tracking Matters
If there is one major takeaway from that deep dive into each generation’s specific online shopping habits, trends, and preferences it’s that transparency is valued by everyone, regardless of their age. And one of the most valuable forms of transparency during the ecommerce and post-purchase customer experience is providing customers with up-to-date and real-time order tracking updates.
Millennials and Gen Z aren’t the only ones addicted to their phones and a seamless online ordering and order tracking process. Offering proactive, clear, helpful messages with personalized updates along the way helps companies save on WISMO (where is my order?) associated costs.
Costs that you can incur when there’s a lack of transparency with post-purchase order tracking include:
- Increased customer support costs
- Higher churn
- Replacements and refunds
- Negative brand reputatio
Mobile shopping is at an all time high and consumer spending habits are changing. All generations are growing increasingly more tech-savvy, expecting seamless and personalized email, SMS, and web experiences with their favorite brands.
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