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Analysis

Millennials – The leaders of the retail revolution

Millennials – the largest generation since the Baby Boomers – will come into their own by 2020. Born between 1980 and 2000, this group represents the world’s first truly digital generation. Already a potent force in today’s society, millennial purchasing power will continue to gain momentum, with recent Accenture research predicting that they will soon account for 30% of total retail sales.

Digital natives, smartphone focused and constantly connected, millennial shoppers are leading the retail revolution. To keep pace with the changes demanded by this generation, merchants must take action now and provide the seamless end-to-end experience that millennials desire.

A Mobile-Centric Generation:

Millennials are the first mobile-centric and truly digital generation. Whether it’s for ordering food, getting from A to B, or booking a flight, technology is fully intertwined with their daily lives – it’s how they get things done. According to our own research, 87% of millennials have their phones with them every second of the day, and in total, 51% of millennial purchases are made online.

The convenience of mobile purchasing is paramount to this generation. They want to interact with brands and purchase goods via social media, chat with friends, do online research and purchase products across the wealth of channels they interact with every day. What’s more, the rapid speed of digital innovation means millennials expect a higher standard than ever before.

As a result, it is vital that retailers cater to millennial preferences, providing flexible and streamlined payment processes in order to convert their online engagement into actual transactions. Take PayPal One Touch for example – a feature that 80 million PayPal customers have opted-in to use, which enables them to skip login when they check out online and simply pay in just a couple of taps on their screen. Powered by Braintree, the service appeals to millennials’ desire for a simple, straightforward process when it comes to buying products. It enables them to pay seamlessly across their favourite apps with the touch of a screen, eliminating repetitive roadblocks such as having to input usernames and passwords each time they pay.

We’ve also seen how mobile-optimised experiences like One Touch can increase sales, by enabling millennials and other generations alike to complete their purchase before they abandon their shopping cart.

Great Expectations:

As mobile-focused as millennials are, it is important to understand that this doesn’t mean bricks and mortar shops are a thing of the past. According to the same Accenture study, 68% of millennials want an integrated, seamless experience regardless of the channel – whilst they favour mobile, it’s not their only option or payment method. The millennial shopper expects to transition seamlessly from smartphone to desktop and to the physical store when searching for the goods and services they want to buy.

This generation asks for speed and brings well-defined attitudes and requirements to every interaction with retailers. Regardless of the channel, millennials are looking for a quick and convenient purchase journey, one which feels personal and is tailored to their needs. Our research shows that 78% of millennials are more likely to choose a brand that offers loyalty/ rewards over a brand that does not, and 41% argue that they would pay more for excellent customer experiences, including personalised engagement and consistency across all touchpoints.

From this, retailers will ensure they speak with a single, consistent voice to their customers across mobile, desktop and in-store experiences. At Braintree, we understand that this is ultimately about making payments easier, quicker and more intuitive, and we strive to build platforms which allow retailers to easily embed the same payment functionality across integrated channels.

Shaping the Future:

Accenture projects that millennial spending in the US alone will grow to $1.4 trillion annually. As millennials continue to influence retail trends and redefine how, where and when purchases are made, it is crucial that retailers take notice and keep abreast of this ongoing change. Businesses cannot afford to sit back, as they risk becoming irrelevant and losing market share to the category leaders of the retail revolution.


David Nunn, is the head of Braintree Europe a team he’s built and led since 2013. Braintree, a PayPal company, is an industry leading online and mobile full service payments platform powering the best-in-class next-generation purchasing experiences globally.

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