As I’m sure you’ve heard, attracting millennial customers to your home furnishings store is key to continued business success. The increasing purchasing power of this generation, plus their life stage as young adults and young parents, will make them just as valuable a demographic as Baby Boomers have already been to your business. But once you’ve got those millennial shoppers in the door, how can you keep them coming back?
It’s not that easy. Millennials are well documented for their finicky ways. They show little loyalty to brands and are much more conscientious about cost than their parents. But that doesn’t mean you can’t convert them into loyal customers. Here are six ways you can turn millennials into repeat clients who think of you first whenever they are in the market for furniture.
1 – Be consistent
I can’t emphasize this one enough. Your digital and physical presence need to provide the same seamless experience and ease-of-use. Whether you sell furniture on your store’s website or simply show the products you have in your store, millennials are expecting a seamless transition as they switch from looking at your website on a smartphone or tablet to looking at it on a desktop to eventually walking in to your brick-and-mortar store. If your store is having an Independence Day sale on mattresses, you better make sure that message is conveyed on your website. And it goes both ways: If your website says you have a particular recliner, you better make sure that recliner is in stock when they show up at your store. Disappointing or frustrating millennial customers is the surest way to lose their business. And, really, any customer’s business. The difference is millennials aren’t going to be as forgiving. And with the power and savviness they possess with social media, you can bet they’ll be telling their friends and the rest of the world.
2 – Offer expertise
How many times has a customer walked into your store and you quickly ascertain they know more about the furniture than you or your staff do? You can count on millennial shoppers showing up with a world of information at their fingertips. When they visit your store, they expect your sales team to be just as knowledgeable. Here’s a sobering number: 40 percent of millennials say, “deep product knowledge” is important to them when visiting a store, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers reports. That means you and your staff need to be ready for them. Your employees should be able to answer in-depth questions about products, provide recommendations and suggest complementary purchases. Another option: Consider putting your store employees on different tracks. For example, if you’re big enough, think about training some employees to focus on maintaining the stockroom and handling inventory, and others to focus on customer service and developing deep expertise.
3 – Reward followers
Millennials won’t follow your store on social media just because they think you’re cool. Just like you when you go shopping, they expect to get something out of the relationship. Exclusive access to deals, coupons or information are key reasons millennials follow retailers on social media, according to a recent Accenture report. When millennial shoppers manage to find their way to your store, that’s when you can tell them by word of mouth or signage to follow you on social media by explaining the rewards they’ll get. Millennials may be different from past generations when it comes to shopping habits, but one thing still holds true no matter the shopper. We all want to feel wanted and rewarded for our loyalty!
4 – Use promotions
Remember No. 3 above? If you want millennials to become loyal retail customers, you’ve got to offer them personalized, targeted promotions and discounts, according to the Accenture report. A whopping 95 percent of millennials in that survey say they want retailers to “court them actively.” What does that mean? That means coupons sent by email or (surprise!) mailed to their homes can often be the most effective promotional tool for this age group. That’s right. In this age of fast-is-better technology, sometimes the best way to grab the attention of millennials is to drop a coupon in the mail.
5 – Loyalty marketing
But old-fashioned techniques only go so far. Paper or plastic loyalty cards won’t cut it with millennials. They’re soooo 2007. At last year’s Microsoft Envision conference, a panel of millennials expressed disdain for these “primitive” methods. How much disdain? The panel agreed they wouldn’t even be willing to carry a small, plastic keychain card to participate in a loyalty program. Fortunately, there’s a solution for your store that millennials have already embraced. There are plenty of digital loyalty programs suited for small retailers; Belly, Loyalzoo and Perk are just three of many out there. Stop thinking about that punch card in your wallet—the one that you’re three subs away from receiving a free one. These loyalty programs go far beyond the old “buy 10, get one free” model of yesterday. They enable you to capture all kinds of data about your shoppers, what they buy and what promotions they respond to. They also make it easy to create customized marketing messages that resonate with individual customers.
6 – Think mobile
Speaking of customized marketing messages, one good way to reach out to millennial shoppers is via mobile. Most millennials (85 percent) want to get mobile messages from retailers while they’re in-store, reports Chain Store Age. This age group is also more likely than others to accept personalized messages based on their past online behaviors. You can use mobile marketing to text offers to customers when they enter your store or get within a certain radius of it. Customers are more likely to enter your store when they see they suddenly get a 10-percent off text.
Adjusting your customer retention methods to focus on millennials is a smart move. Not only is this generation growing in influence, they’re influencing how their parents shop as well.