The Increasing Influence of Millennials on Retail Operations


Millennials have become a bigger part of the retail customer demographic with the group expected to have more spending power than any other generation by 2017. Millennials are incredibly connected to technology with their smartphones and tablets. They are accustomed to rapidly changing technology and increasingly expect their retail brands to do the same.

Retailers will need to adapt their business models to fit the digital shopping preferences of this new generation or risk losing them altogether. And the risk is great. In fact, according to Accenture, millennial spending in the United States will grow to $1.4 trillion annually and represent 30% of total retail sales by 2020, putting the onus on retailers to provide the experience they expect.

Retailers employing omnichannel practices that provide customers with a seamless shopping experience from a desktop, mobile device or in-store technologies, can deliver the customized experience millennials expect, while taking advantage of the revenue opportunities at the same time.

Here are some technologies retailers should employ to take advantage of the $1.4 trillion in spending over the next few years:

* Mobile POS Tablet for Millennial Engagement

Tablets offer retailers the ability to reach to the real-time data provided by other connected devices that can deliver the personalized experience millennials crave. Sales associates can pull up real-time inventory from the floor to check availability of different sizes and colors, increasing engagement.

In addition, tablets offer mobile POS capabilities that can optimize checkout for improved speed of service and customer experience while providing the variety of payment options so they can any way they choose. Some mPOS solutions also offer integrated payment options which is important with the EMV mandate passing and millennial preference for near-field communication (NFC) payments.

* Integrated Surveillance Camera Technology Customizing the Experience

Integrated video surveillance cameras can play a large role in a personalized experience for millennials.

In fact, according to market research firm Mintel, 60% of millennials are willing to provide details about their personal preferences and habits to marketers, demonstrating the desire for a personalized shopping experience. Facial recognition capabilities can alert sales associates via a mobile POS device so they are prepared with data regarding preferences and past purchases. This technology helps tailor the experience to the individual customer and provide that personal touch which is especially important for millennials.

Heat-mapping tech can also recommend when to open additional POS terminals to maintain high checkout optimization and speed of service, creating the expedited checkout millennials prefer.

Digital Signage: Gateway to Personalization

Digital signage can tailor offers to a particular customer based on past purchases and preferences. Interactive signage solutions take millennial engagement to a whole new level – intuitive touchscreen navigation can provide millennials with relevant and personalized content, as well as wayfinding information around the store.

Other interactive aspects include the ability to create targeted promotions and recommendations by integrating digital signage with third-party databases, such as POS, gift card and loyalty programs to serve the right content to the right customer, at just the right time.

All of the above can help retailers engage and tap into the market, while staying up to speed on the latest retail technologies to help drive millennial engagement and loyalty both in the short- and long-term.

Jeff Pinc is director - retail & food services, Panasonic System Communications Company North America.