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4 ways to avoid annoying the millennial shopper

September 1 2015

Tim Smith

If you’re a chief marketing officer trying to earn the attention and admiration of the millennial shopper — without inadvertently tripping the “red flag” of annoyance — you’ve got your work cut out for you. In an effort to locate the land mines and avoid missteps, Skidmore Studio recently conducted an online survey asking millennials what annoys them the most about their online shopping experiences.

Our biggest finding was that 86% of those surveyed reported they would probably not complete a purchase if they were annoyed during the shopping process. Therefore it’s imperative that you are careful as you build your brand’s online experience.

Hell knows no fury like a millennial shopper scorned.

Some of the issues that can potentially annoy the millennial online shopper include pop-up ads, broken or slow web sites, sites that are not mobile-friendly or responsive, inauthentic brands, forced social media behavior, and condescending language. Based on our survey, there is no clear leader among these potential annoyances. But what is clear is that the millennial shopper does expect an uncomplicated, error-free shopping experience that allows them to engage and research what they want to buy, and do it on their terms.

Need help creating a millennial-friendly online shopping experience? Here is some advice we give our clients along with candid feedback from the survey respondents.

  1. Design a mobile-friendly experience
    Millennials are shopping from their mobile device and expect the site design to be optimized for that. Complaints that dealt with bad mobile experiences, such as freezing or the inability to “pinch & zoom,” were widespread in the survey. If your brand is offering a transaction online, it is in your best interest to make the site mobile-friendly and, ideally, responsive.
    “Bad website design that makes it not function correctly is the most annoying.”
    “I stick to websites that have a clean easy to use design, so I don’t run into trouble often.”
  2. Avoid any intrusive or disruptive advertising on your site
    The number of references to pop-up advertising and disruptions during the buying process were plentiful. The respondents were insulted and frustrated when confronted with these ads. They were annoyed that it wasted their time in getting the information they wanted.
    “Pop-ups and in-cart up-sales are the most annoying.”

    “[I’m annoyed] when the page won’t load properly on my iPhone or iPad due to media or forms that were not designed to be filled out on mobile devices.”
  3. Make sure the coupon codes work
    It is clear that millennial shoppers are informed, savvy, and understand how to find the best bargain. And when they find the best value and are enticed by your coupon, it better work. Hell knows no fury like a millennial shopper scorned.
    [Broken] coupon codes piss me off, especially not being able to use more than one if multiple are offered. Forget the code and just discount my shopping cart automatically.”
  4. Don’t force it
    Sure, it’s awesome when someone “likes” you on Facebook or says something nice about you on Twitter. But making that a requirement to get a coupon or an offer seems to cause unintended negative consequences. Brands that do won’t build long-term loyalty, but rather short-term and temporary activity that is unlikely to stick. Even requiring something as simple as creating an account can backfire.
    “I hate being made to create an account if I just want to shop at a website once. But I also hate 100% of advertising. I already know websites sell my attention. Stop rubbing my face in it.”

Considering all this harsh criticism, it may be surprising to learn that our second biggest finding was that you can earn back the love. Our survey revealed that 73% of millennials would consider repurchasing from a brand that had annoyed them — as long as it was a killer deal.

73% of millennials would consider repurchasing from a brand that had annoyed them

So, yes, millennials are passionate, opinionated, and quick to point out the mistakes. But they also are quick to forgive and will reward good experiences with a steady stream of business. Just take it slow, build a solid online experience, and prepare to reap the benefits.