Millennials will make up almost half the workforce in less than five years. These buyers possess significant spending power, with millennials aged 20-24 reporting being involved in a purchase process 67 per cent of the time, and those 25-29 years old 72 per cent of the time.
When it comes to making business purchases, millennials are comfortable (and often prefer) browsing, researching and ultimately purchasing online. Buyers of this age group have little patience for clunky sites that lack user-friendly features, streamlined ordering capabilities and mobile options. On top of that, millennials are very digitally confident, which also plays into a high tendency for error. Given these predispositions, having a system that meets these needs and helps create a seamless process is of the utmost importance.
Businesses selling to millennials online must consider the high expectations of this generation. Facing competition from non-traditional B2B commerce players like Amazon Business, organisations must exceed the expectations of tech-savvy millennials or risk losing them to competitors.
Stay ahead of the curve: Questions to ask
Here are three questions for any marketing or IT decision maker to consider when looking to meet the digital commerce needs of today’s millennial buyer:
Personalisation: Does your site meet the unique needs of each user?
It’s no secret that millennials are a mobile-first generation. Eighty-seven per cent of millennials use between two and three tech devices on a daily basis, and most are using all of these devices when researching and making purchases.
Given this generation’s level of comfort with mobile devices, it’s no longer acceptable for businesses to simply have a mobile commerce offering. The most successful businesses will ensure that their mobile offering provides something above and beyond their browser site, and that the content is consistent and seamless from one device to the next.
Millennials also want to know that brands know and care about them as individuals. Businesses will be successful with this generation by employing highly personalised sites that connect with the customer by offering recommendations based on the user’s history of interactions and preferences. Achieving this becomes exponentially easier when working with a SaaS platform built on your CRM system, which provides the business with a single view of the customer.
Speed & Flexibility: Can your platform be flexible and quickly implemented?
For businesses hoping to reach millennials now, there’s no time to waste. If your site doesn’t meet their needs immediately, millennials will move to competitors without hesitation. Cloud-based commerce systems can be up-and-running within months to maximise revenue potential. What’s more, commerce systems that are built on top of a business’s CRM platform provide the customer-centric approach that millennials demand.
These systems are flexible enough to make regular iterations in response to customer feedback. This is in contrast to rigid ERP systems that take a product-centric, waterfall approach. Millennials have high standards and specific user expectations, so launching a site that is inflexible and takes years to update is simply not a viable option to take when aiming to cater to millennial buyers.
Without the flexibility of the cloud-based platform, the brand would have had to start from scratch to incorporate this custom site feature. These elements of CRM-based systems create a distinct advantage over ERP systems. Therefore, it’s important to think twice before partnering with legacy, ERP-based commerce systems, and consider SaaS platforms that allow for the convenience, speed and simplicity that today’s generation of shoppers demand.
Simplicity: How can you build the best, user-friendly experience?
Whether you’re a B2B or B2C business, millennials using your site expect a top-notch user experience. In fact, according to Accenture Interactive, when price is not a factor, 71 per cent of B2B buyers would switch suppliers if the overall digital experience was better with another organisation, while 53 per cent would switch suppliers for easier electronic search processes and 49 per cent would switch for better electronic purchasing capabilities.
Today’s most successful B2B players are actually taking a page from the B2C playbook by offering incredibly simple, intuitive sites. But, given the complex nature of B2B sales, this can be a difficult task for businesses relying on back-end ERP-based platforms. Cloud-based systems, on the other hand, provide more flexible options for user experience. Businesses using these systems are able to develop highly custom sites that meet the unique needs of their users and make it easy for a buyer to convert.
As millennials reach an age where they’re making significant purchase decisions at work and in their personal lives, it’s important that brands are able to meet their digital buying needs. Consumers of this age group want to conduct research, engage with brands and complete transactions online.
It’s essential for businesses to meet the needs of millennials today or they risk losing this powerful group of consumers to competitors.
Ian Pollard, EMEA general manager, CloudCraze
Image Credit: Shutterstock/iQoncept