Millennials are no longer the workforce of the future—they are the workforce of the present. By 2020, millennials—the generation born between 1981 and 1996—are expected to make up 50% of the workforce, and by 2030, millennials are expected to comprise as much as 75% of the workforce, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Further, as more and more Baby Boomers retire, more and more millennials are climbing the corporate ladder. Forrester estimates that some 73% of millennials are involved in B2B purchasing decisions.
This generational shift poses unique challenges for B2B sellers: how to engage millennial buyers.
At PhaseZero, our goal is to help companies transform their digital business. In this post, we’re taking a closer look at what this generational shift means and how businesses can redefine their e-commerce strategies to grow their digital commerce.
The New B2B Buyer
Millennial involvement or influence in purchasing decisions is changing buying habits and behaviors.
Think about these statistics from a Forrester Research study: 60% of B2B buyers would prefer not to communicate with sales reps as their primary source of information; rather, the majority (68%) prefer to research solutions on their own online before engaging with a company.
Translation: Gone are the days of searching product catalogs and cold calling. Millennials are logging online.
What Do Millennials Value?
When it comes to engaging millennial buyers, understanding who they are and what they value is key.
For millennials, technology is not an added benefit—it’s an expectation. From banking to shopping, their entire lives are online. This tech-savvy generation doesn’t know how to live without an electronic device because they’ve never needed to.
Meeting their e-commerce needs starts with understanding their e-commerce needs. Below are just a few important concepts.
- Convenience: Millennials want accessibility at the click of a button. They can’t help it. It’s the world they’ve grown up in. Consider these B2C examples: Amazon offers same-day delivery in select cities, and Walmart’s “InHome Delivery” not only delivers your groceries to your house, but an employee actually places them in your refrigerator.
- Simplicity: Millennials want minimal or no hassle. The harder it is to find what they’re looking for, the more likely they are to go somewhere else.
- Speed: In these days of “on-demand,” millennials want fast access and instant satisfaction.
- Relationship: A sense of belonging is important to millennials. The deeper the connection with your brand, the more likely they are to become loyal buyers.
Reaching Millennial B2B Buyers
So how should businesses adapt their e-commerce strategies to cater to millennial B2B buyers? The answer: create a positive digital experience. Every digital interaction with your brand should be well-designed and well-defined.
What makes a good digital experience? Consider these millennial-friendly musts to help drive conversions:
- Mobile-friendly: Your website or platform should be easily viewed across any electronic device, from desktops to tablets to smartphones. According to Google and the Boston Consulting Group, 50% of B2B search queries are made on smartphones. By 2020, that number is expected to increase to 70%. Consider simplified navigation, image enhancements, (eg, zoom), and concise copy with calls to actions to improve the mobile experience.
- Optimize search functionality: Millennials aren’t going to scour your website or portal for information. They are going to look in one place: search. Avoid burying information or products; instead develop a robust search functionality that allows users to find what they’re looking for in a timely manner. Accessibility is key. The fewer clicks a user has to make to complete a task, the better.
- Easy to-use interface: The digital experience must be intuitive. A complicated or cumbersome interface is difficult to navigate and will frustrate users and send them to another site. Make information clear and concise.
- Personalization: A customized experience is crucial. Whether through product recommendations or individual promotions, personalization provides a unique experience for each user, tailored to that individual’s needs or preferences. Remember, millennials value relationships. A personalized experience can help them become more invested in your company.
B2B growth is at an all-time high. According to the 2019 U.S. B2B Ecommerce Market Report, the B2B marketplace topped $1 trillion for the first time in 2018. That number is expected to grow to a whopping $1.8 billion by 2023.
That, coupled with the fact that more millennials are stepping into decision-making roles, bolsters the need for a redefined e-commerce approach.
Preparing for this generational shift was of the main goals Fortune 500 company Dana had for developing a bold new digital commerce strategy. Dana utilizes PhaseZero CxCommerce™ for the company’s worldwide eCommerce platform, DanaAftermarket.com. CxCommerce™ enables Dana to deliver industry-leading customer experience and ease of doing business for internal and direct customers, especially millennials.
Prior to implementing CxCommerce™, Dana had a variety of ways customers could access product information, but many of them, like PDF or paper catalogs, weren’t easily searchable. Digitizing product content and creating a new search function that also showed real-time inventory availability was just one way Dana wanted to make it easy for millennials to do business with them. Download the full case study to learn more about Dana’s success with PhaseZero CxCommerce™.
First impressions are still crucial with the millennial generation. It’s just now those first impressions aren’t taking place in person or on the phone. They’re taking place online. Make sure you’re making the right impression by joining the Digital Commerce 2.0 revolution.