Online shopping-addicted millennials and Gen Zs are losing out on thousands of dollars in discounts because they’re “too scared to talk to shop assistants” and not prepared to haggle, experts say.
Studies show more than 60 per cent of millennials and Gen Zs prefer shopping online than in-store, and they are doing themselves a financial disservice, says marketing and university lecturer Malcolm Auld.
The Global Web Index (GWI) report, released in October, listed millennials as between 23-37 years of age.
The report stated 34 per cent more millennials shopped online or used “click and collect” services in the third quarter last year, and overall millennials (62 per cent), more than any other generation, preferred buying over the net.
“This is not to say that millennials don’t shop in-store, but it’s certainly an indication that they find online channels more convenient,” the GWI report stated.
Millennials’ insatiable appetite to buy online and a reluctance to shop in-store has its consequences, Mr Auld said.
“Those people known as millennials need to sharpen their interpersonal skills and learn to communicate by talking with people,” Mr Auld said.
“Research I have seen revealed the biggest fear of graduates in their first job is talking to work colleagues they don’t know in their workplace.
“They are so used to texting, not talking.”
It’s argued millennials can easily compare prices with the simple click of a mouse and therefore are getting the best price on offer without having to traipse from store-to-store.
But Mr Auld said their knowledge is limited to the items a merchandiser posted online, and millennials were not exposed to in-store sales nor able to haggle for cheaper electrical goods if they do shop in-store.
Anyone who “clicks and collects” was also short-changing themselves, he said.
“If you are going to click and collect, you might as well take the time to shop in-store,” Mr Auld said.
Technology could also determine if an IP address had been constantly searching for the same item and alter the price accordingly, Mr Auld said.
“You can always haggle/negotiate in-store face-to-face and get a better deal,” he said.
“Shopping between sites is fine but doesn’t mean you are seeing the best deals, just what the sites choose to display.
“Airlines and travel sites, for example, track your search and can increase prices on the display if you frequently search an itinerary from the same IP address, so you can lose out by shopping around.”
Technology commentator Trevor Long said there was anecdotal evidence that when an item was constantly searched, the price altered to either lure in a customer or make it more expensive.
“I’ve seen and heard the theory that the more you search for something over time can change the price,” the EFTM.com editor said.
“Your best way of finding if there is another price is to open an incognito or private browser to see if it is the same offer to someone that isn’t being traced.”
From small electrical items, such as kettles and toasters, through to laptops, TVs and whitegoods, you could research prices and then haggle in-store to see if you could get it cheaper, QUT professor of marketing Gary Mortimer said.
Unless millennials or Gen Zs haggled, they would never know if they were paying the cheapest price, he said.
“There is more leverage to haggling face-to-face because online shopping means you are only accepting the lowest advertised price,” Professor Mortimer said.
The art of haggling for a lower price may be in a death roll.
Australian Retailers Association chief executive Paul Zahra encouraged shoppers to head into major cities where the pandemic had cruelled retailers and food businesses while conceding haggling was vanishing.
“Haggling is definitely a smaller part of the shopping experience than it might have been,” he said.
“The majority of consumers do their research, including making price comparisons online, before they visit physical stores.”
National Retail Association chief executive Dominique Lamb said shopping habits had changed with online price transparency, and many shoppers were already getting rock-bottom prices.
“Since we have an ageing population and the way shopping is changing, we are seeing a shift away from a lot of practices,” Ms Lamb said.
“It certainly is a generational change, and I think it (haggling) is probably dying.”