While millennials are demanding high-quality mobile shopping experiences, they are not turning their back on the physical store.

Matt Prebble, managing director in Accenture’s UK Retail practice, told Essential eCommerce that millennials are actually more interested in visiting and interacting with the physical store than some of the previous generations.

“I think that’s because they’ve come naturally into eCommerce and digital channels as a way to shop,” said Prebble. “In some ways, they only really visited stores when they had to and it’s now a novelty factor around physical shopping. So there’s an opportunity for retailers to reinvent the whole store environment.”

While the general definition of a ‘millennial’ is someone born between 1980-2000, Prebble said in his opinion, being ‘millennial’ is actually a “state of mind”.

He also noted that the time for talking about the future of the store is over. “We used to talk about the store of the future and the technology which was coming next, but actually that future we used to talk about is now. You can now start to knit these [technologies] together to provide experiences to consumers that haven’t been possible before.”

Prebble said the industry is about to see a polarisation of retail into three camps, where retailers will either be known for the products they produce, their fulfilment methods or the experience they provide customers.

“If you’re not one of those things which many retailers aren’t you’ll get squeezed in the middle when actually our commerce everywhere is truly happening and that’s a risk to a lot of retailers,” he added.

Research revealed by Accenture this week, claimed UK retailers are at the forefront of meeting customer expectations when it comes to mobile and convenience shopping.

The report, launched at the Millennial 20/20 event in London this week, said UK retailers are quickly adapting to the increase in consumer demand for improved mobile capabilities with most retailers (92%) having mobile-optimised websites. Additionally, 72% have UK retailers offer transactional smartphone apps which is much higher than the global average of 58%, beaten only by the US where 83% of retailers offer such applications.

The research also found an increase in UK consumers shopping on the go using mobile devices, now 30% use devices to shop in this way, compared to 25% last year.

Investment in mobile capabilities is paying off for retailers as 50% of UK consumers are finding it easier to make purchases on mobile devices, compared to 42% last year.

Commenting on the research, Prebble said: “This year’s survey confirms that UK retailers are adapting to the evolving needs of their customers. When you look specifically at the UK’s delivery services compared with the global counterparts, for example, the UK is much more advanced in a number of areas.  However, as our research has shown, growing numbers of customers, and millennials in particular, are also looking for additional capabilities that many UK retailers simply aren’t offering, such as the ability to check product availability online before heading to a store or receiving real-time promotions. 

“Perhaps more worryingly, while many retailers are taking advantage of digital capabilities, some seem to be forgetting key fundamentals such as providing excellent personal interaction with customers,” Prebble said. “Without these core foundations in place, retailers will quickly find themselves struggling as consumers turn to competitors that are better equipped to meet their needs.” 

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Accenture