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  • It is easier to find special products online
  • An online store must work properly, also with mobile phones
  • Smooth ordering and delivery processes are part of good service
  • The decision of where to buy the product is made according to the price and shipping fees
  • Making online purchases and payments must be easy

Millennials only go to stores to try out or check the product in person, and then they order those products online using their mobile device. True or false?

Online stores must be easy to use from product comparison to return 

The youth of today are online all the time and buy everything they need there. Brick-and-mortar stores are only visited to try out the latest trendy clothes which then are bought using mobile phones from the foreign online stores that their friends are recommending.

This is the image we have of so-called millennials, i.e. 20–30-year-old people. But does the purchasing behavior of young adults differ significantly from the purchasing behavior older age groups are used to? Are traditional stores and shopping centers about to be deserted?

The same product is often cheaper online

Let’s ask this of millennials themselves. Do they make purchases only online?

At least, the most recent online purchases of Järvenpää-based 22-year-old Rasmus Pyykkö and those of Vantaa-based 27-year-old Jenni Pekkanen sound pretty much like everyday purchases: Pyykkö bought a cordless stick vacuum and Pekkanen some sushi plates and baby shampoo.

Nevertheless, in addition to grocery store shopping, both of them say that they do shop in traditional brick-and-mortar stores, too. The decision on where to make purchases is made based on need but also, especially, according to price.

That argument is supported by recent international research (SmarterHQ 2017), according to which a whopping 50 percent of millennials not only go to physical stores, they prefer going to them as a primary means of shopping. Online shopping is only a way to get the product more easily and more affordably. Some shoppers tend to compare prices using mobile phones already while they are in a store.

It is easier to find special products online

 icon-quote If I need something, I google it. Usually, I use image search,” says Jenni Pekkanen.

Currently, Pekkanen is on parental leave with her nine-month-old baby girl. She reminisces how she used to spend time walking around stores before her daughter was born. Now she has less opportunities to go shopping.

Pekkanen does not mind that, though, as she thinks that you can buy almost anything online.

“I did not even think about going out to shop for soy sauce plates. They do not sell these types of special products there”, she says while browsing her cell phone.

Apparently, the ecological shampoo she ordered for her baby girl has arrived at a Posti outlet. The soy sauce dishes are still on their way.

Online stores must work properly also with mobile phones

“I always use this,” Jenni Pekkanen says, showing us her smartphone. “We have a tablet and a laptop, too, but we use the laptop only for working.”

Moreover, you can do Google searches while chatting with friends on WhatsApp.

Rasmus Pyykkö, who studies business administration in Helsinki, uses his phone to browse online stores during his daily train commutes. However, he likes to do the actual ordering using his home computer because, in his opinion, it feels safer.

“But I pay for all my purchases using mobile payment. I even paid for the handheld vacuum using Danske Bank MobilePay,” says Pyykkö.

Smooth ordering and delivery processes are part of good service

Jenni Pekkanen values highly that online stores send e-mail notifications when the order has been received and dispatched.

However, online shopping is not always that smooth. Pekkanen is concerned about leaving an internet trail on the websites she visits. The biggest headache, though, concerns returning products. Not all online stores provide free returns service.

Although Pekkanen understands that handling returns is quite a lot of work for the online retailer, her precondition for ordering is the possibility of free returns.

Rasmus Pyykkö thinks that there is room for developing logistics and the receiving process of goods.

icon-quote Parcel lockers are handy, but home delivery services usually are not. If the customer is not at home to receive the parcel, it is returned to the sender and the customer must agree on a new delivery time, which is difficult,” Pyykkö adds.

The decision on where to buy the product is made according to the price and shipping fees

What then is the most important thing for a millennial when shopping online?

No less than the price. The Internet has made it easy for us to compare products and services quickly and easily. If the prices in Finnish stores are not competitive, a similar product can be ordered from abroad. Rasmus Pyykkö says he buys “all kinds of affordable stuff” on eBay, an American e-commerce corporation.

“And Zalando Lounge I visit regularly to check upcoming offers.”

Jenni Pekkanen is, besides prices, careful with shipping fees.

“If a product costs ten euros and has a shipping cost of six euros, I always see whether I can find the same product somewhere else with a better overall deal.”

Making online purchases and payments must be easy

One of the benefits that online stores have is a more diverse product selection which can easily be browsed at a glance. All in all, ease is important for millennials.

icon-quote For instance, I never have enough time or interest to register or log in. And I always want to pay via my online bank so that I can see that the payment has been made from my account”, states Pekkanen.

On the other hand, sometimes a product is needed immediately, without even a day’s wait. Pekkanen has also ordered a product online and then picked it up from the store.

“On the Internet, it is fast to check which store has the product available.”

This means that it is crucial that the online store has up-to-date information on their stock balance.

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