Can Social Media And Immediacy Drive In-Store Sales By Millennials?

About 58 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds globally prefer the physical store shopping experience to digital shopping, says Salesforce's Rick Kenney.

As retailers continue to refine their online-to-offline marketing strategies, a report from SapientRazorfish and Salesforce offer some hope that the use of social media and mobile marketing may be having a positive effect, particularly on younger consumers.

The companies’ Shopper First Retailing report details what methods and offerings are drawing people into stores.

Looking at the shopping activity of more than 300 million shoppers on Salesforce Commerce Cloud, the survey examined “the preferences and motivations” of 6,000 shoppers across six countries and also relied on dozens of interviews with retail experts in technology and customer experience.

The report highlights four trends changing retail: the storefront’s new experience mandate, mobile’s rapid growth, the importance of AI and analytics, and the “flattening of the conversion funnel,” which reflects the shift from desktop to mobile marketing in driving sales.

Among the more surprising aspects of the report involves the appeal of shopping in-store by Millennials.

“Even the youngest customer prefers shopping in-store,” says Rick Kenney, head of consumer insights, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, noting that 58 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds — globally — prefer the physical store shopping experience to digital shopping.”

The immediacy of the in-store experience is prime motivator of brick-and-mortar’s appeal. But being able to find a product online first makes a difference in terms of where shoppers will go to satisfy that in-the-moment need.

Most people surveyed in the study (60 percent) start their hunt in digital led by online marketplace, retailer/brand sites or apps, search engines, and social media.

Just 37 percent start their search while in a store, Kenney notes.

As for the role of social media, channels like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and others act as “an introducer, but not a closer,” Kenney says.

“Even as social traffic has increased 60 percent since 2015, just 1 percent of all site orders start in social media channels,” Kenney tells GeoMarketing. “For comparison, 15 percent of all site orders start in search.”

Among the other key findings of the report:

  • Fresh products in-store are very important: shoppers who prefer the digital and the physical channel agree: 67 percent / 74 percent are more likely to visit physical stores when there are new products
  • 79 percent of shoppers want to leave the physical store with a product in-hand
  • POV: stores are an important channel particularly for brands competing against Amazon
  • “25 percent of the sales are done from within the four walls of the store with sales associates. Further, buy online and pick up in store accounts for approximately 25 percent of net sales.  The two channels are highly integrated.” – Pier 1 Imports
  • In-store events and experiences matter: 26 percent of respondents have attended these events, and 58 percent reported they were more likely to make a purchase from that store in the future
  • Most likely to drive future store visits: personalized promotions and offers (70 percent), early access to new products (63.5 percent) and invitations to entertainment or social events (60.2 percent)
About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.