Retail e-commerce: Deploying technology to sell to millennials

Here’s how e-commerce companies can leverage technology to get actionable business insights and effectively target millennials in 2018.

IDG Staff Jan 08th 2018

Millenials have to be treated as a separate segment while devising a technology-based sales strategy for an e-commerce setup as they are more open to new technology and they have common yet diverse preferences. Social media strategy, Hyper-personalization, Visual Search, Chatbots and Audio interfaces are interesting ways through which an e-commerce company can acquire more millennials, retain them and generate customer loyalty.

Targeting millennials

Millennials have to be a categorized into a different target group when devising a sales strategy. This becomes evident when you look at user behavior data. Non-millennials have an inherent and unconscious resistance towards newer ways of interacting with machines, but it is exactly the opposite with millennials. Millennials love to use chat-bots, voice-guided assistants, visual search among others to walk their way through a shopping experience. Going a step further, millennials like their experience to be tailor-made and consequently, e-commerce companies should create deeper personalization experience that can interest this younger generation. Apart from chatbots and deeper personalization, millennials are also being targeted through social media platforms, messengers among others. Selling to millennials is becoming a science and an art in itself.

Techniques for engaging millennials

Social media: 

Millennials spend a big chunk of their internet-time on social media and these become the de-facto platforms for luring millennials to shop online. Social Media is a powerful advertisement framework which can provide an e-commerce website the ability to show inventory which is somehow related to the content that millennials are sharing on the social media. Social media also allows e-commerce websites to push inventory, which is based on either national or local events or even events that are specifically relevant to the target user. For example, e-commerce websites may start suggesting items to a user, which can be gifted to his or her friend who has a birthday or a special occasion to celebrate.


Personalization is one of the most powerful techniques for increasing customer retention and browsing time on an e-commerce site. Deeper the personalized experience, higher are the chances of conversion down the sales funnel. Millennials often have similar shopping patterns and this trend can be tapped into, to create highly personalized experiences. Techniques like ‘Collaborative Filtering’, which is a famous method in item clustering, can leverage this trend to create extremely powerful predictors of possible items that can be recommended to a user given his or her history of buying, bundled along with data about what other users are buying.

Voice search and chatbots

Voice-assisted search is becoming a common game for e-commerce apps to improve the way millennials shop online. App developers are trying to integrate apps with chatbots like Cortana, Siri, Google Assistant so that their users can instantly fire up inventory on e-commerce apps with simple voice commands. Apps are also integrating native voice recognition for providing a seamless browse and buy experience to the user since voice search has the potential to free him/her up of the pain of using a keyboard as an interface to search the inventory. Voice is readily being adopted as a standard choice for the younger generation. As speech recognition technology evolves, e-commerce apps would move towards providing full-fledged text and audio based chatbots that can help find inventory while also delivering a powerful guided shopping experience to the shopper, clearing any doubts or queries the/she would have regarding any product.

Visual search

Big e-com firms have been trying to integrate sophisticated Image recognition algorithms into their apps that can instantly identify products which are present in a given photograph or video. Say the user is reading a tabloid and she finds a pair of shoes, which is worn by her favorite movie artist. The user wants to buy similar shoes and so she opens the e-commerce app, clicks a picture of the shoe and the app suggests the nearest matching inventory. Deep neural network based convolutional networks are being used to segment parts of the image, tag them and to find similar looking inventory. Visual search is one of the most powerful features e-commerce apps can provide to millennials to gain a competitive edge.

Millennials are a tough bunch to please. It is important for companies to treat them as a separate segment and provide them a more personalized experience. By leveraging advanced technologies, companies can indeed strike a chord with the youth and create a sense of brand loyalty, giving themselves a huge competitive edge.