Millennials: The Try-Before-You-Buy Ecommerce Generation

Accepting a bit of risk can open your business up to a whole new customer base of non-committal millennials.
Conor Cawley

With an appetite to “try-before-you-buy”, millennials have created a new trend in the ecommerce world, and businesses need to keep up if they want any chance of competing for the loyalty of this ever-controversial generation.

For years, millennials have changed how business is done. Between the new remote work policies in the pandemic to their proclivity for allegedly killing industries, millennials have kept businesses on their toes for the last few years. Subsequently, a new business trend common amongst the oft-blamed generation could change the way many think about how we do business.

We had a chance to talk with Donny Ouyang, the CEO of BlackCart — a company offering ecommerce businesses a try-before-you-buy option that is attracting millions of customers — to discuss the shifting trends in the ecommerce industry, the new technologies powering those shifts, and the risk involved in actually trusting your customers.

Millennials Need to Try Before They Buy

While many still view millennials as entitled teens and rambunctious 20-somethings, the reality is that the oldest millennials are now in their 40s, and represent some serious purchasing power.

In fact, millennials are expected to spend $1.4 trillion per year, which means finding out how they like to shop is vital to any ecommerce business.

Fortunately, BlackCart and other such businesses have tapped into a new trend for millennials that gets them on board: allowing them to try before they buy.

“Retailers are catering to a new generation of non-committal millennials who have massive spending power in conjunction with massive uncertainty, and it’s a profound shift for nearly every consumer spending category.”

BlackCart has tapped into this desire with great success, and then some. The company launched just prior to the pandemic and has already powered $250 million in transactions in the last year.

“Our experience serves as proof that a new generation of online shoppers have massive spending power, but need the convenience of trying something on, or out, first prior to making a final purchase decision.”

BlackCart empowers ecommerce businesses to take advantage of the try-before-you-buy trend by providing a simple plug-in for their websites. Much like subscription sites, it allows these businesses to send products to customers before they buy, then allows them 7 days to figure out which ones they want and send back the remaining items.

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Ecommerce in the Pandemic

To be fair, trying before you buy isn't a new phenomenon. Fitting rooms, test drives and first-month-free offers all allow customers to actually get a feel for products before making the purchase decision.

However, with the pandemic driving online ecommerce up, and in-person purchases down, allowing customers to try before they buy is increasingly more difficult. With innovative new tech though, business can provide these sought-after feature to make sure they aren't left behind during the millennial spending wave.

“We represent just one of numerous new technologies that are picking up steam as new spending habits formed during this pandemic take hold.”

There are a few companies that do this well. Stitch Fix and other subscription box companies have been able to do well with the model, while tech giants like Amazon have been able to mitigate risk. So what is at the center of this new way of doing business? Trust.

Business and Trust

In a predominantly online world, trying before you buy is hard. Between shipping costs, logistics, and fraud concerns, the average business does not want to simply send its products out into the world in the hope of someone actually buying them.

Still, trust is the basis on which a good business is built, and if you want to tap into the massive spending potential of the average millennial, you're going to need to take this approach. And rest assured, there are plenty of precedents to take the risk for the sake of your new customer.

“Imagine if you went into a mattress shop and had to buy five mattresses before you lay on them, then get a refund for the ones you don’t want? It just doesn’t work that way. You have to give somebody something – for free – then let them make a purchase decision. That involves a lot of risk.”

Simply put, the risk is worth it. From the massive upside to the fact that your average customer is looking to make a purchase rather than scam a small business, the reality is that you've got a lot more to gain from trusting millennials than you do from fearing them.

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Conor is the Senior Writer for Tech.co. For the last five years, he’s written about everything from Kickstarter campaigns and budding startups to tech titans and innovative technologies. His extensive background in stand-up comedy made him the perfect person to host tech-centric events like Startup Night at SXSW and the Timmy Awards for Tech in Motion. You can email Conor at conor@tech.co.

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