Innovation in Logistics: Millennials’ Hidden Desire


Millennials wield a considerable amount of buying power—yes, even with all their rising student loan and credit card debt. Census data show they now earn more than young adult households did at nearly any time in the past 50 years. Plus, with 90% of millennials owning a smartphone and 97% using the internet, they have the perfect combination of purchasing and online power… in other words, the ideal customer profile for any online retailer or marketplace seller.

Sure, e-tailers have been targeting this demographic for years now, but it seems too many are still behind in addressing millennials’ top concerns or adopting new strategies to meet this group’s shopping preferences. But then again, what do millennials want?

Well, they want to be amazed, usually in an unexpected way. In the Millennial Mindset Report, one of the top mindsets studied among millennials was innovation. (While “innovation” may be a bit of a buzzword at this point, we can explore this idea a little past surface level.)

Millennials are interested in novelty, efficiency and effectiveness that companies can offer, and they appreciate brands that create modern ways to simplify their lives. For e-tailers, this can mean, let’s say, providing an artificial intelligence (AR) shopping experience. This is quite a flashy innovation and certainly one that would get a lot of these millennials to visit your site. But one thing they won’t expect to be amazed by is committing to shop from an e-tailer that successfully spiced up the same old online logistics process millennials have experienced for many, many years.

A pleasant surprise at checkout

Nowadays, it’s easy to abandon items in an online shopping cart: just close the app and soon enough the items will be out of sight and out of mind.

Yet, if e-tailers provide a simple and transparent checkout process, especially when selling to consumers in other countries, e-tailers will not only have full control of the checkout process, market product prices, branding and their consumer analytics, they will also impress consumers who want a clear picture of total fees. One way to do this? Cost calculators.

Provided by select e-commerce operators, e-tailers have at their disposal fully landed cost calculators that they can plug in to their websites to provide at checkout the most precise total cost of purchases in preferred currency with all duties, taxes and shipping costs. It’s simple, straightforward but unfortunately not as common as it should be.

Routing makes a difference

We all know products need to get into consumers' hands quickly and effectively, or online retailers run the risk of losing repeat customers. Break away from this concern by implementing something consumers (especially millennial consumers) want: reliable routing.

Some e-commerce operators are incorporating geo-map reading, also known as real-time mapping. Through the use of this real-time mapping, couriers plan routes intelligently by using live data to find the best or alternative routes in the event of road deviations or delays. This mapping incorporates a number of tech tools, including AR, cloud computing and real-time data capabilities to improve last mile capabilities. Nifty, but tremendously useful too.

Flexibility and optimization

Online retailers can further entice millennial consumers by tapping into operators that are using various flexible and innovative delivery business models, including parcel lockers, bicycle delivery and electric vehicles for urban proximity. Other unconventional creative solutions are crowdsourced deliveries and other decentralized options, streamlining and shortening the final mile for delivery to consumers. For crowdsourced solutions, online retailers do not bear the cost of the deliveries, maintenance of the vehicles and often pay on a per delivery basis.

Partnerships are key

Although it is difficult to know how the preferences of an entire generation can shift, we can know with certainty consumers are becoming more and more technologically savvy and expect the same from the companies they purchase from. To keep pace with market trends and maintaining an openness toward learning and innovation, it is recommended e-tailers work with their logistics operators to establish key partnerships. Through key partnerships, online retailers can work jointly with their logistics operators to ensure the most agile transport methods are being used, including the most technologically innovative methods that can possibly result in cost savings.

-By Lee Spratt, CEO, DHL eCommerce Solutions, Americas

Lee Spratt has been chief executive officer of DHL eCommerce Solutions, Americas since 2008. He has extensive experience working in the e-commerce and technology industries. Lee has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Florida Atlantic University.

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