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4 Ways Your E-Commerce Site Can Appeal to Millennial Shoppers

By Ben Feldman, Affirm Content Marketing Manager.
Ben is a writer and Millennial who is fascinated by financial services innovations and who is dedicated to helping online retailers create positive relationships with his generation.

Why Read this Article

Is your e-commerce website up to the task of appealing to Millennials? In this article, we discuss important steps that every merchant can take to create a website Millennials will love.

Introduction

Millennials, those born between 1981 and 1997, are a unique generation and are having a noticeable impact on the world of e-commerce. Researchers have identified several key characteristics that distinguish Millennials:

  1. They are diverse. According to the Pew Research Center, the Millennial generation is more racially and ethnically diverse than previous generations.
  2. They are attached to their mobile phones. One study found that 80% of Millennials sleep with their cell phone next to their bed, while another report said this generation checks a mobile device at least 43 times per day.
  3. They constantly interact with friends online. Millennials communicate with friends frequently, whether on social networking sites or via text messages. By one estimate, at least 71% log into a social networking site at least once a day.
  4. They care about opinions of their peers. Millennials care about the opinions of those in their age group, which includes semi-anonymous feedback shared via online product reviews and social media posts. A survey of Millennials found that 80% were swayed to purchase by positive reviews on a company’s Facebook page.
  5. They are idealistic. Millennials are an optimistic and idealistic generation, feeling strongly about values such as equality, innovation, authenticity, and eco-friendliness. A surprising 89% of Millennials say they would be more likely to buy from a company that supports solutions to social issues they care about.

With these characteristics in mind, what does it take to build a website that converts Millennial shoppers? Below we look at four website features that are crucial to winning over Millennials.

Step 1: Build trust

The first thing your website must do is build trust. When thinking about trust, you might initially think about the security of your website -- and granted, no one wants to lose their personal data to a hack -- but we’re talking about way more than simply proclaiming your site’s security in bold letters. Millennials want to know that your company is reputable, that you understand them, and that you’re not going to take advantage of them. Going back to the idealism mentioned above, they’d also like to know that you stand for something.

That’s why one of the best ways to build trust is to openly talk about your company’s values and to educate the customer about who you are and why you do what you do. A great example of this is the quirky and eco-friendly clothing retailer Reformation. On their website, they show the actual factory where their clothes are made and discuss their company values:

In addition, make sure you communicate clearly why shoppers can trust that you won’t be ripping them off.

A perfect example of how this can work is the Casper website, which features a whimsical sense of humor, a highly appealing design, and a conspicuous money-back guarantee -- which, in combination, are music to a Millennial’s ears (and eyes):

Step 2: Give enough information

Millennials also want to be able to quickly find the information they need, whether it be the price of a product, its size, color choices, shipping options, etc. Millennials are impatient with any website that is hard to navigate, unintuitive, or poorly organized.

Not only should your product pages have all the usual information about the products themselves, but they should also provide other useful details that can proactively answer their questions, such as product reviews by actual customers. Joybird, an online furniture seller, does a great job in both respects. Their product pages have colors and wood choices laid out in a clear manner, and list expected shipping times for each product. In addition, they provide customer reviews for each product, which Millennials love because they care about the opinions of their peers:

Another way to provide information to your customers is to create buying guides that compare various products within a category. For example, if you sell computers, a helpful buying guide would detail the various features that come with each machine at their respective price points to help customers decide which one is right for them.

One company that does this well is Calphalon, which sells kitchen and cookware. They have quite a few different product buying guides on their site, including one that helps customers choose the best set of non-stick cookware:

Step 3: Prove it’s high quality

Millennials tend to have a strong desire for products they feel are high quality and durable. This stems from their preference for eco-friendly products, but it also has quite a bit to do with their financial circumstances -- they want their money to go a long way. To address this generation’s desire for quality, your website should show customers how your products are made and how much care you put into the manufacturing process. Highlight the little things you do to get the kind of quality you’re looking for.

This is where pictures and detailed descriptions can come in handy. If you can make the customer feel like they’re getting a peek into your process, that’s a good thing. Patagonia has a great example of this on their site, where they describe each part of their manufacturing process, including the types of materials that they use, the location of their various facilities, and key details supporting their claims of being an eco-conscious brand:

If it seems too difficult to give such a detailed look at how your products are made, you can still accomplish this goal by simply pointing out what the product is made of and showing why it matters.

For example, Boosted Boards has detailed photos of their electric-powered skateboards, with a diagram showing each piece of the board and a description of why it’s important. The labels show that the board is made using a flexible bamboo deck and a lithium iron phosphate battery, plus wheels and trucks from trusted manufacturers. These descriptions tell the customer that each part is high quality, which is enough to earn the respect and business of Millennials (and others).

Step 4: Make it easy to buy

Finally, to capture the loyalty of Millennials, you’ll need to make the checkout process very simple. It should feel almost effortless to make a purchase. This is not just about design -- although that’s a big part of it -- but also about solving a customer’s problems before they leave the site. You need to foresee major problems and engineer solutions for them within your checkout flow. It can also help to offer live chat customer support to quickly solve problems before a customer leaves your website.

As an example, if you are selling apparel, it’s possible some customers may hesitate to buy an item because they’re not sure if it will fit. To assuage their concern, give advice to help them figure out the best fit. Revolve, an online clothing retailer, provides an example of how this type of problem should be resolved. They’ve built a “Fit Predictor,” which allows customers to predict the size that will best fit them based on how other brands fit them. They also have a live chat option for customers to get answers to any unresolved questions:

Another case where a customer might hesitate to complete their purchase is if they are worried about whether the price fits within their budget. This is surprisingly common -- and leads to lots of abandoned carts in the e-commerce industry. To combat this problem, you should offer a non-predatory financing option to your consumers.

Trendlee, the luxury handbag consignment retailer, has a seamless financing option provided by Affirm on their website, which allows customers to purchase an item and pay it off over 3, 6, or 12 months with rates from 10-30% APR. The financing fits easily into their checkout process and gives customers peace of mind since they don’t have to pay the entire sum up front:

Conclusion:

To build a website that gives Millennials what they’re looking for, focus on the following key points:

  • Get your customers to trust you by telling your story. Millennials, perhaps more than any other generation, want to feel a connection to the company before making a purchase. Your website should tell a story -- a meaningful story about who your company is and what your values are. It should describe your commitment to the customer and to creating good products.
  • Millennials are hungry for information, so feed them. In general, Millennial shoppers want to know a lot about the product before they make a decision. Where possible, include a list of features, colors, and sizes for each product. Better yet, create a buying guide and allow for customer reviews to help customers find the best fit among several products.
  • Don’t tell -- show why your products are high quality. For Millennials, there is nothing like seeing where a product comes from. Whether it’s the food on their plate, the clothes on their back, or the mattress they’re sleeping on, this generation wants to know how a product was made and whether it can really be considered high quality. Describe your manufacturing process, and try to highlight the things that make your product special (i.e. “handcrafted” or “using environmentally friendly materials”).
  • Make it easy to complete a purchase. Avoid the hurdles that could prevent a customer from finalizing their purchase. For large-ticket items, some Millennials and other customers may hesitate to pay in cash. Offer a trustworthy consumer financing option (like Affirm) to help customers get the item they want without breaking their monthly budget.

DISCLAIMER: The views contained in this article are those of Affirm only. Affirm has not received any consideration whatsoever for creating this article. Any brands contained in this article are included as examples only. Affirm does not intend to endorse or promote any brands contained in this article.

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