How Employee Experience Must Change in the Age of the Millennial

Rows of store shelves with a sloppy, stale product selection, uninterested retail staff, drab décor. There may have been a time in the not-so-distant past where retailers would have gotten away with such things and still survived, as their main customer base were often apathetic and uncritical. Those days are long gone. In order for retailers to succeed, they must change their employee experience.

We’re now in the age of the millennial. This demographic makes up a larger proportion of the workforce, estimated to be 46 per cent by 2020 according to InsideRetail, and they are anything but apathetic and uncritical. They have radically different priorities, tastes and expectations in comparison to the baby boomer generation. This means that any retailer that had been coasting along in the past, on mediocre selections and services will need to get their act together in a big way and fast.

There are a number of ways in which retail staff can alter their approach in order to bring their brand and product into the modern day.

Retail staff should be knowledgeable and helpful

This is huge. Millennials are swimming in a sea of information thanks to the constant exponential growth of websites and ever-connected smartphones in their hands. As a result, they are often more knowledgeable about the products and services they are interested in than previous generations would have been. This means the bar for retail staff is much higher.

This is echoed by I-AM’s 2018 Retail Sector Report. Their survey of 2000 millennials, aged 18-35, found that 71% of respondents want “store staff to be more knowledgeable” and 45% “would revisit stores that offered workshops and tutorials”.

Staff being in-the-know is an important aspect of retail for the millennial consumer. So, it comes as no surprise that recent research from OnePulse, surveying 10,000 millennials, uncovered that “59%” of them found retail staff to be their “biggest pet peeve” when shopping.

Retail staff must build deeper, more meaningful relationships

Pushy sales tactics and sneaky up-sells need to be relegated to the dustbin of retail techniques if retailers are to survive the coming decade. The research is clear; millennials want deeper, more meaningful relationships with retail staff without being hit with superficial sales patter designed to extract money from them as quickly as possible. A study by NewsCred found that “31% of millennials are more likely to buy from a retailer if their communications are truthful without being sales-y”.

There have been many researchers and journalists preemptively declaring physical retail ‘dead’, which is a sentiment that is heightened by a recent slew of big retailers going bust and disappearing from shopping centres and high streets. In addition to this is the ever-present threat of online-only marketplaces, such as Amazon and eBay, which are growing more powerful by the day.

However, as it stands, physical retail is far from dead and still accounts for the overwhelming percentage of retail sales across the world. For physical retail to remain significant over the coming decade, retailers must adapt to survive. It’s as simple as that.

Most have embraced omnichannel retailing by selling on online marketplaces and via their own websites, in addition to their physical retail stores. However, if retailers are to seriously take on the likes of Amazon then they need to completely restructure and reinvent the retail experience and play to their unique strengths in the physical space. It’s only then that they will be able to give the most profitable and sought-after demographic what they want and how they want it.

So, what do millennial customers specifically want? Well, the general research is out there to be analysed and is continually evolving with today’s demographic.

However, if you want real insights into what millennials want from your specific brand, and by extension, your retail staff, then run it through our Emotics Engine to transform your data into evidenced, actionable insights. Sign up for a product demo here.


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