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Traditional retailing, eCommerce and the teen effect

April 16, 2014 Written by NetSphere Category: Online Retailing
Traditional retailing, eCommerce and the teen effect

The mall just isn’t what it used to be. Partly due to perceived safety issues and partly due to a fading level of interest, the mall is becoming less and less of a hangout spot for teens today. According to the Piper Jaffray 27th semi-annual Taking Stock With Teens market research project, teen mall traffic over the past 10 years has plunged by 30 percent.

“Shopping frequency has declined from a peak rate of 38 trips/year to 29 trips/year (one every 1.75 weeks),” explained the editors of the report. “We note Fall 2013 appears to have marked the low point at 28 trips. Our measure of trip frequency improved 2% sequentially, although still down 10% year over year. We estimate mall traffic in the teen space has declined 30% cumulatively in the last 10 years. It’s increasingly evident that teens are browsing more often via their mobile devices, shopping with purpose (conversion rates are up), buying when they have a real or perceived need, and visiting the mall less for entertainment value.”

Seeking Alpha, a leading financial analysis firm, also rang in on the topic, saying that “teens are showing a tendency to favor online upstarts such as Nasty Gal or Stitch Fix over former mall rat favorites like Gap, Aeropostale or Abercrombie & Fitch.” The editors there went on to say that teens are also becoming privy to the cost savings that can come from using online stores to find a good deal or purchase used electronics. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that teens have totally abandoned the idea of shopping in-store. In fact, girls have an overwhelming preference for in-store shopping.

According to Piper Jaffray’s report, about 75 percent of female respondents stated a preference for stores over sites. For guys, it was a fifty-fifty split. When comparing pure play eCommerce versus sites associated with stores, only 14 percent of females and 24 percent of males preferred the pure play eCommerce. That insight could prove to be especially important for any retailer who operates in both environments – online and offline.

“This … indicates to us that brick-and-mortar retailers need to continue to invest in their sites and create frictionless shopping experiences in order to maintain this top-of-mind status among teens,” reported the Piper Jaffray editors. “Key to this strategy, we believe, is wrapped up in a mobile strategy.”

So while teens are known for their capricious ways, their penchant for online shopping isn’t slated to slow down anytime soon. If anything, retailers should count on steady growth in the eCommerce arena and heed the advice of Piper Jaffray when it comes to the importance of creating omni-channel retail experiences.

To stay up to speed on what’s happening in brick-and-mortar locations versus online or what’s on the horizon for the eCommerce market in general, subscribe to the NetSphere Strategies blog.  

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Abbe Miller is the marketing manager at NetSphere Strategies, located just outside Chicago. NetSphere Strategies is a boutique eCommerce company positioned to help businesses transform their online presence by providing a full complement of services that starts with our strategic consulting and creative design teams, then continues with building innovative solutions and providing ongoing post-project support.