Holiday Season 2016: More Mobile and Millennial?

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Each week, we publish a mishmash of ecommerce-related, insight-infused articles for your to smash through. Just as we collect business information across all of a merchant’s channels in a single place, we’re doing the same for ecommerce-related content from a variety of top tier content creators.

It’s that time of year again — the holiday selling season is on every merchant’s mind, research firms are harvesting data to better predict performance, and consumers are pondering which products they may want to buy in the coming months. In this week’s mishmash, we’re going to take a look at a recent holiday study reinforcing two trends that have been in the works for years now: millennials’ interest in ecommerce and mobile’s growing power.

The Early Forecasts

October has yet to arrive, but surveys looking into the holiday season’s potential are already beginning to trickle in. Ad-tech firm The Rubicon Project has looked into the crystal snowglobe, and the results are looking more millennial and more mobile.

Of its 1,000+ respondents, millennials had the greatest intention of spending online over the holidays, with 72% committed to surfing for some steals. Plus, they’re keeping the mobile trend alive and well — more than half plan to make a mobile purchase. Nearly a quarter of Americans are already keeping their eyes peeled for deals, with the same percentage applying to those that have absolutely no plans to shop in store this year.

More Mobile Millennials

Millennials are more willing to make mobile purchases than any generation, but how much does mobile account for their total online orders? Mobile advertising network Kiip conducted a study on such young mobile users, and a reasonable chunk of their digital orders, around a third, arrive via mobile channels alone.

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Two trends are promising for mobile’s role in ecommerce in the coming years. For starters, the purchasing power of the millennial generation is expected to grow significantly over time as it ages. Couple that with their willingness to buy online and their love of smartphones, and you’ve got predictions that mobile will account for nearly half of all retail sales by 2020. The mobile space is something to keep your eyes on, and this holiday season is sure to matter.

Millennials’ Marketing Preferences

Oftentimes, millennials — a generation that includes a wide range of ages from young 20 year olds to those in their 30s — are labeled as unreliable when it comes to marketing. But the supposedly “hyperconnected” generation is pretty responsive to two channels: email and social media. Fluent launched a study on how promotional channels impact millennials and found that email, whose history as the most reliable marketing channel is well-documented, is the reigning champ, affecting more than half of their decisions to buy online.

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Social media hit second place, which makes sense considering millennials’ dominion on social platforms. Interestingly according to PriceWaterhouseCooper, social media users are in fact somewhat interested in viewing ads and receiving promotional offerings, at 30% and 44% respectively.

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And that feeds into perhaps the greatest factor that affects millennials more than any other generation: word-of-mouth. Of all the many ways a millennial researches products before buying, word-of-mouth significantly impacts them more.

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Honing Your Marketing

Stats are one thing, actual implementation is another. If you’re interested in building out millennial-oriented marketing promos, check out this detailed trend guide by Shopify.  For the most part, their attention isn’t given to traditional forms of media — think TV, radio, and magazines — rather, their behavior is shaped by digital content (hence their interest in ecommerce); it dominates their preferences, whether it’s the blogs of their favorite brands and influencers or the video material of YouTube channels and livestreams.

The Backoffice Grind

Holiday projections are useful, but there are other more important things to begin paying attention to immediately. Your backoffice, the grindy behind-the-scenes process of dealing with inventory and fulfilling orders, is of major importance during the holiday season — there’s no doubt about it. In preparation for the real wave of orders that hits in November, it’s time to put your backoffice strategies to the test.

Before anything, getting your inventory in ship-shape is a priority; begin getting rid of lagging products, and start prepping for your demand. On the shipping-side, it’s time to test potential shipping strategies like free shipping and various rates to encourage sales.