Updating Your B2B Ecommerce for the Millennial Purchaser

This guest post was kindly contributed by TechnologyAdvice.com.

Millennials. They are the generation of people born between 1981 and 1996, and they are on track to become the largest age cohort in the United States in the next ten years.

We hear a lot about them, their habits, and how they are shaping the world. And while the statistics we learn about millennials are often rather benign - like how they are less likely to play golf or more likely to describe themselves as terrible cooks than previous generations - there are also some more important numbers to keep in mind when thinking about this age group.

For instance, millennials already make up a majority of the United States workforce, with 35% of all American workers falling into this age category. And, at an estimated $3.39 trillion, they currently have more spending power than any other American generation.

It truly is a millennial market, and that means some updates are necessary for B2B ecommerce to continue to thrive. Aside from spending more on coffee and eating more avocado toast, there are several key factors that set millennial purchasers apart -- whether they are making individual buying decisions, or they are part of the 73% of millennials involved in the purchasing process for their business.  

Technology is key

It’s no surprise that millennials are attuned to all the latest tech. As the generation who mostly grew up with the internet and who had the chance to be early adopters of mobile, millennials rely on technology. They own more smartphones and tablets and use social media more on average than any of the generations before them.

And this is important when it comes to buying. Millennials are not only using the internet to do their shopping; they are also using it to read and watch reviews, do research on a product, and connect with brands. In fact, 62% of millennials cite social media engagement with a brand as a reason to buy from them.

Understanding these connections - and which brands have them - is imperative in making purchasing decisions.

Consider conscious consuming

Like other generations before them, millennials are concerned about a number of social and environmental issues.

Unlike the generations before them, millennials have more options than ever for researching and ultimately choosing to work with and buy only from vendors that share similar values, take part in philanthropic endeavors, and exemplify corporate responsibility.

And this concern and commitment to sustainable, socially conscious companies reaches far beyond personal buying habits. One study even found that some 80% of millennial business buyers consider environmental and social efforts on the part of the company when making a decision about buying from them.

Truth, transparency, and close ties

One of the reasons millennials like working with socially conscious companies is because those companies often do a pretty good job of being transparent.

They are willing to let consumers go behind the scenes to view the inner workings or provide updates about the initiatives they are involved in. This goes a long way with millennials, who are so accustomed to keeping up with and connecting with one another through efficient and on-demand means like Instagram or Snapchat. Millennial purchasers want the same connections with potential vendors.

B2B brands sometimes get a bad reputation as being cold, distant, or disconnected. When working with a millennial purchaser, it’s vital to disprove this stereotype. Creating a strong relationship, earning trust, and being as open as possible will work wonders with a millennial purchaser.

Change in communication

When it comes to working with a millennial, as odd as it may feel at first in the world of business, informal communication is typically going to get better results. Again, these buyers want to feel like they have established a real connection with you before moving forward, so they will likely want to communicate with you the same way they do with friends and family.

Communication technologies that allow for rapid responses are most popular among millennials, such as text messages and emails, social media, or video chat. Face-to-face meetings and phone calls are less preferred than for previous generations.

Tracking these online conversations in a fully featured CRM makes the whole process easier to follow and gives teams greater insight into what their customers really want. You can get recommendations for CRMs with omnichannel tracking abilities from an online review site that connects buyers with software that fits their needs.

As workplaces get more casual with changes like more flexible hours and relaxed dress codes, business communication will need to be adjusted, too.

Make it easy

While efficiency and ease should be a priority for any business deal, these are especially imperative when developing a business relationship with a millennial purchaser.

Automation for processes like order-to-cash and previously manual tasks are appealing to everyone, not just millennials. And the more accessible, easy to use, and digital any transaction can be, the better.

Mobile options and software assistance for things like order management and payments help alleviate some stress and streamline the purchasing process for everyone involved.

It’s all about the experience

Overall, millennials are focused on the experience of buying, regardless of what, where, why or how they are buying it.

The customer service, the connections made, the communication, and the conscience of the organization all play a role in determining who will get a millennial purchaser’s business.

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About the Author

Laura Hudgens is a writer for TechnologyAdvice. She is a communications instructor and freelance writer who studies and writes about technology, media, science, and health.