Merrick, NY--It should not come as a surprise that e-commerce, smart phones, and a host of still-emerging (and really cool) apps have culturally changed the retail paradigm forever. But what is causing a bit of consternation among retailers is discovering that the traditional model of retail selling—the way most retail sales people approach the customer interaction—actually can have a negative impact on your business.
Why? Because the emerging consumer, the Millennial, is as different from their Baby Boom and Gen-X parents as those groups were from their Depression- and WWII-era parents.
Millennials were born roughly between 1978 and 2000, which puts the oldest wave solidly into bridal-customer territory. The ExSellerate Retail Development Group has unofficially dubbed this group of young adults now emerging into the bridal purchasing age range as the “iGeneration.” This tech savvy group of purchasers has grown up downloading from iTunes and Amazon, shopping at Zappos, and browsing for new mobile applications (apps) on a daily basis. This purchasing paradigm is their normal and must become the “new normal” for Baby Boom and Gen-X retail store owners and sales teams.
Our research reveals that this group of purchasers has a negative bias against stores where sales associates use manipulative selling techniques, hard closes, and blatant attempts to “add-on” to the sale. In fact, in a recent ExSellerate-led focus group, iGenerational participants expressed that when Starbucks associates started overtly “adding-on” a muffin to go with the Tall Carmel Macchiato, they perceived that the coffee company began to seem a bit desperate.
No longer does the consumer walk into a store to be sold, but rather to make an informed purchase decision on their own terms. Therefore, if your store culture still uses phrases such as “the close,” “closing ratio,” “180° Turn-Around”, “add-on sale,” and other pre-Internet selling techniques, you are highly likely to experience a decrease in sales as the iGeneration’s purchasing power surges.
Do not read that consummating sales has become unimportant—or that multiple purchases are irrelevant. Quite the contrary! The iGeneration loves to buy and will find the money to purchase what they want, and there’s probably no greater example of multiple purchases than the suggested “pairings” on Amazon.com.
But it’s got to be done in a way that appeals to this customer, not the older customers you’ve been used to all these years. When done right, you will gain lifelong clients among the iGeneration, as they tend to return to the store brands that first won their hearts and where they feel a connection.
Here’s why. With the advent of e-commerce, the iGeneration is able to purchase in a neutral shopping environment. Online, a shopper can browse indefinitely, and buy what they want with no pressure, no selling techniques they perceive as manipulative, and no sales people with personal biases or thinly veiled contempt for the consumer.
The iGeneration’s expectation for the in-store experience is one that mirrors their online experience. Beyond the education and information that they can get online, they want a fun, hassle-free shopping experience in which they find what they want with expeditious service. They simply want your expertise and guidance in making the right choice.
Upcoming articles will address the most effective approaches to successfully interacting with and winning the loyalty of the iGeneration. For more information on this subject visit www.exsellerate.com.
With 25 years of sales, management, and marketing experience in major national retail organizations, Terry Sisco founded the ExSellerate Retail Development Group to help retailers drive their performance from the people-side of their business: he believes the key difference between a high-performance store and an average store boils down to talent and execution. A Certified Professional Behaviors Analyst and Values Analyst, Sisco personally coaches some of the country’s top sales performers, senior level executives and business owners.