21.08.18

The retail industry in 2017 has been a rollercoaster of ups and downs. Brick and mortar stores have been closing and consolidating all over town; retail giants have undergone extreme makeovers, and having an omnichannel strategy is more important than ever. But who is to thank for this dramatic change? Blame it on the millennials, of course.

Millennials and Gen Z are often talked about like they’re grotesque mutations of their ancestors – the sensible, patient high street shoppers. But the truth is that the retail landscape was falling behind in an ever-advancing world, and it was time for a shake-up.

Our generation has seen some things. We grew up in the great recession, we’re saddled with student loan debt, and don’t get us started on the cost of living… Still, we’re very much involved in the spending part of retail – ‘cause we just can’t go a day without our avocado on toast.

Quite frankly, recent consumer frugality is inspiring. Rather than owning cars and houses, we’re opting to share rides and homes. Forbes recently discovered that 18 to 24-year-olds are big fans of thrift shopping, with youngsters being almost two and a half times more likely to be motivated by environmental consciousness when shopping for second-hand clothes. There’s nothing grotesque about penny-pinching, environmentally-friendly shoppers.

Significantly, today’s consumers are driven by their desires. And it is exactly that trait that is driving the change in the retail industry. As a result of changing demand, retailers are reworking their strategies to keep up with three crucial changes: social media, contactless payments and m-commerce.

Retail search marketing agency, NetElixir, found that last month, mobile orders were up by 44% and revenue was up by 64%. Mobile average order value (AOV) increased by 13%, indicating that consumers are now more comfortable using mobile devices for more expensive purchases. CEO Udayan Bose confirmed: “We can confidently say that mobile sales percentage contribution will continue to increase”.

So, with m-commerce on the rise, the finger points to the addictive nature of social media. AdWeek found that 4 in 10 social media users have purchased an item online or in-store after sharing it or marking it as a favourite on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.

TL;DR: shoppers are now sharers, m-commerce is the next big thing and it’s social media’s fault.

Now, we can’t let you leave without discussing contactless payments – as of September, it is officially 10 years since they were introduced to the UK! According to recent data from UK Cards Association, there’s now a huge 101 million contactless debit and credit cards in circulation in Britain.

Co-founder of The Chargeback Company, Monica Eaton-Cardone, believes that this is only the start of the payment convenience demand, stating that: “Not all disruption ultimately proves to be a positive development but contactless payments have certainly whetted the public’s appetite for convenience”.

We’ll leave you with this final word of warning: retailers, adapt or fail. As ominous as that sounds, we’re in a transformative time. Drop that pen and paper and think streamlined, because convenience shoppers are here to stay.