The future reimagined

No fuss: Convenience drives millennials to shop online

Business & Commerce

It’s easy and relatively cheap: some reasons millennials gravitate towards online shopping. But what does retail look like in the long haul?

As the mother of a 9-month-old, Jenni Pekkanen has little time to spare and even less to shop. So when her baby daughter needs shampoo, Pekkanen orders it online – a few clicks take significantly less time than a trip to the shops. Pekkanen has also been eyeing some new sushi bowls, and since they don’t sell them at the closest store, why not get those too? 

Pekkanen, 27, is a millennial. And thanks to millennials - that is, people born between roughly 1980 and 1995 – the world of e-commerce and online shopping is flourishing. For some time now, traditional brick-and-mortar stores have been competing with the virtually limitless shopping opportunities of the internet.

“If I need something, I search for it on Google. The stores I usually go to don’t have things like sushi bowls in stock,” Pekkanen says and checks her email. Her baby shampoo has been delivered to the post office and is ready to be picked up.

An abundance of stores in your pocket

Why do millennials buy so much online? Sure, online stores carry a much more diverse selection of goods than your average shop. Often you can even view the whole selection online at a glance, whereas brick-and-mortar stores have limited space for their products. 

But what attracts especially millennials is the quickness and convenience of online shopping. You can browse, compare, order, pay for and even return products on your mobile phone, tablet or computer. It’s safe to say most of us have at least a mobile phone at hand at all times. 

Rasmus Pyykkö, 22, lives in Järvenpää and studies business in Helsinki. He commutes on a daily basis and has time to kill on train rides. During those hours he browses online stores on his smartphone and Googles things he might need. Recently he bought a new vacuum cleaner online and paid for it via MobilePay, a user-friendly payment app. 

Shop online, save money

Another important factor that pushes people towards online shopping is price. If you find something in a Finnish store but the price is too high, you’ll probably find the same item cheaper in one of the countless international online stores. 

Pyykkö, for example, buys “all sorts of cheap junk” off the American eBay and regularly checks Zalando Lounge, an online outlet store, for sales and reduced prices. For Pekkanen, in addition to comparing price tags, it’s about keeping an eye on delivery costs. If shipping costs half the price of the product, she tries to find another store with both lower prices and delivery costs. 

Brick-and-mortar stores stand their ground

Although easy and relatively cheap, online shopping has its pitfalls. Jenni Pekkanen worries about leaving traces of her movements and whereabouts online. She never registers with any sites when she’s making a purchase. Rasmus Pyykkö, on the other hand, thinks that there’s room for improvement in logistics.

“Automated lockers for packages are handy, but home delivery rarely is. If I’m not home to sign the delivery when it arrives, it gets taken back and I have to schedule a new time. That’s a challenge,” Pyykkö says. 

As e-commerce becomes more pervasive, many worry that traditional stores and shopping malls are on their way to becoming obsolete. Necessity and price dictate where people like to shop, but it seems like millennials gravitate towards a combination of online and offline shopping – and a recent report by Credit Suisse shows that many millennials still prefer brick-and-mortar stores to online shopping. As said, it’s simply easier to shop on the internet – but not necessarily more fun. 

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