Just over 80 percent of American households still watch cable television. However, those numbers are falling as more people consume media via their computers and handheld devices. Landlines are also on the way out as cellphones become the preferred method for calling. With each passing year, fewer and fewer Americans carry cash, preferring to rely on paperless payment options.
These trends are happening across the board, but they are particularly strong amongst millennials (i.e. those born between 1980 and 2000). For example, roughly 40 percent of Americans from this age group prefer not carrying cash at all — and more than 85 percent own a smartphone.
These changing trends pose a serious challenge for certain businesses — especially brick-and-mortar stores that only accept cash payments in person.
Though for merchants able to adapt, these shifts in millennial shopping patterns represent a major opportunity.
How can you prepare your business for these changes?
Adapting to New Millennial Shopping Habits: A Quick Guide
Let's start with the low-hanging fruit. If you only accept cash in your business, you're missing out on sales — period. Fortunately, all you need is a merchant account and terminal to begin accepting credit cards. Just make certain that your payment processor adheres to the latest in PCI-compliant security standards. This is because younger shoppers are even savvier than their parents are when it comes to data breaches and privacy. Remember that millennials grew up with the Internet.
However, accepting credit cards is only the first step.
Millennials aren't simply using their computers for TV viewing. They’re increasingly using the Internet to shop as well. If you operate a brick-and-mortar store, it's time to move some of your goods and services online. You’ll definitely want your site to be mobile-ready since 60 percent of e-commerce sales happen via handheld devices like smartphones and tablets.
This means that in addition to your merchant account, you’ll also need a secure payment gateway. If you're worried about the setup process, you can always opt for hosted payment pages that work out of the box — but there is even more room for improvement.
Let's take a look.
Millennials Want More Payment Options
We've touched on this topic before, but it’s always a good idea to expand the number of payment options within your business — no matter who your clientele is. Yet this is especially important when targeting millennials. They tend to be some of the earliest adopters of new payment technologies.
Does this mean that you (as a merchant) have to be an "early adopter" and try every new payment fad that hits the market?
Although it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer variety of options out there, the vast majority of payment technologies follow the same standard protocols. With a few simple investments, you'll be able to accept most payment types — no matter how they might be branded individually.
For example, near field communication (NFC) terminals can read both Google Wallet and Apple Pay. NFC technology is also the driving force behind most wearable payment options. This is a good thing since nearly half of 18 to 30-year-olds have used a wearable device to handle their finances.
Some payment options are closed systems, but you can update your infrastructure to accept those with the widest reach. For example, PayPal is one of the most popular e-payment technologies out there; and if you accept Bitcoins, you should be set for digital currencies.
Note that these investments will continue to deliver dividends for quite some time. Founders (i.e. those who come after millennials) are even more devoted to cashless shopping via their computers and handhelds.
To learn more about updating your payment infrastructure, contact our support team today.