Millennials might have a laissez-faire attitude when it comes to their careers, but where shopping habits are concerned, they are anything but unproductive. According to an Accenture report from June 2013, roughly 80 million American Millennials spend $600 billion annually, and by 2020, this generation's spending is expected to hit $1.4 trillion per year, or about 30 percent of all retail sales. Furthermore, they love Snapchat.
Snapchat and the Lure of Social Media
Snapchat represents social media at its best—time-consuming, addictive, and another channel that allows Gen Y to explore what they love most—their networks. Keep in mind that the 20th century's last generation is also its first truly digital one, and they embrace the medium wholeheartedly. They'll "gram" their lunch, send a snap, tweet at their favorite celebrity, Pic Stitch their vacations, VSCOcam that lunch they just "grammed" only to "regram" it (a more artsy photo means more likes), and, eventually, check Facebook to see how everything they pushed to their newsfeed stacks up. What's the point of all the back and forth? To find something that grabs their attention.
Consider Snapchat's :10 window (with the 10 representating the maximum amount of seconds for sending a snap). Many checking out their friends' snaps are unlikely to watch the entire 10-second clip. Now think about a potential shopper lured by the constant, targeted content pumped via Facebook and Instagram. Yes, the targeted ads introduce consumers to a brand, but does the site give a lasting impression? Once the user lands on the Web page, can the retailer draw him in for more than 10 seconds? Or did the brand just lose out to a selfie? Digital experience teams must take note of these behaviors and ensure their online experience can pass the Snapchat :10 test.
E-commerce: A Visual Landscape
This changing landscape means e-commerce is becoming more visual than ever; in comparison, marketers are relatively behind on their current strategies. A 2013 Forrester Research study conducted on behalf of Qubit found that 72 percent of marketers agree that their organizations currently run digital marketing technology from different vendors that overlap in capability, and nearly 60 percent of the respondents felt that their digital marketing technologies had gaps that keep them from delivering unified cross-channel customer experiences. That inefficiency won't fly with a consumer who has 16,000 followers to entertain him.
Put Money on Mobile
An additional finding from the commissioned study was that 53 percent of marketers named building out the mobile channel as one of their top three projects for 2014. Understandably, with the increase in social media activity among shoppers comes the rise in traffic directly from a tablet or mobile device. As a result, brands such as Topshop are redesigning their mobile sites; in Topshop's case, the company is specifically reconstructing its navigational capabilities. With the tap of a button, consumers can now view a list of product categories or navigate to different parts of the mobile site. Topshop inserted a mobile layer that showed a navigational pointer with the words "tap here to search or shop by category" to first-time mobile users for five seconds upon entry. This resulted in a 4 percent increase in basket adds on mobile and a 1.2 percent increase in visitors viewing product pages. Digital teams should be thinking about mobile first because that's where their customers are.
Embracing Social Channels
It's never been more important, or easy, for brands and retailers to respond to this changing landscape. The plethora of cheap and engaging content at their fingertips is astounding. Being able to leverage it is becoming essential to success. Brands have seen an average 5 percent to 7 percent increase in conversion rate and a 2 percent increase in average order value when they incorporate, or link to user-generated content on product pages.
Not only has bringing this content onto a brand's or retailer's Web site and making it sellable become essential, but visually engaging customers has also proven an effective strategy.
Just take a look at the social media activity around you and its impact on retail. E-commerce is growing at a rate five times faster than brick-and-mortar retail. The e-commerce space will continue to grow by turning browsers into buyers through creative visual technologies. That's because the future is social media and therefore, the future of e-commerce is presenting a visual form of communication in less than 10 seconds, because today's shoppers won't wait.
Graham Cooke is the CEO and founder of Qubit. Previoiusly he was the global leader for Google's strategy for conversion rate development. He also owned a technology company that delivered IP television systems to the advertising industry.