Technology is changing the way retailers go about their business. A big reason for this fast and most unconventional change is the Millennial Generation. Their new approach to shopping has been well documented. What is just starting to be examined, however, is the generation following the Millenials. Who are these people? Born after the Millenials, Generation Z is generally considered to be those born starting in either the mid to late 1990s or from the 2000s.
According to the “Global Survey on Gen Z Girls' Reveals Digital Behavior” by Stardoll and Carat, around 20% of girls ages 12 and under regularly visit online shopping sites. An additional 13% of girls regularly purchase products online, regardless of their age. Another key area of impact is how retailers reach these consumers. According to a study “Consumers of Tomorrow – Insights and Observations about Generation Z,” Gen Z rejected traditional TV over streaming Video-on-Demand (VOD). And PCs (51%) and mobile phones (43%) were ranked as more important devices than TVs (3%).
Taking a hypothetical trip to a current brick and mortar can highlight potential disconnects between the marketing promises of the virtual world and the reality of day to day operations. The youthful shoppers walk in educated, excited, and ready to make a purchase, because they’ve seen advertising, they’ve researched the products and the brands, and most importantly, they’ve discussed it with friends on social media. Their expectations can be ruined if they can’t find an associate when they have a question, or if they do ask a question and the associate doesn’t have an answer or the right information to share. Questions regarding merchandise simply must be answered instantly to keep Generation Z shoppers engaged and satisfied. It’s important for retailers to keep these shoppers interested and happy as they are not only comfortable shopping online, but have grown up with Amazon.com and other virtual retailers. In fact, nearly half of teenagers who use the Internet have made purchases online.
Retailers fight irrelevance with innovation and technology in order to meet the expectations of their customers, and these consumers of tomorrow not only expect it but demand the best technology for an immediate, personalized shopping experience. The shopping experience in the physical store needs to be just as interactive and personal as the online experience, so arming associates with mobile devices able to access all kinds of product information is the starting point. Retailers will take this experience to the next level by equipping their staff and their store with product videos, testimonials, social media interaction, special in-store promotions, and opportunities to actually customize the purchase. Starting relationships with shoppers, nurturing and growing an intertwining presence in the store with social media, and continuing to engage with Gen Z shoppers will help retailers focus on delivering an experience where the shopper experiences the brand where even the actual purchase transaction becomes part of the overall experience and fulfilled virtually. After all, that’s what this generation expects.
Laura Wenzel is an Offer Manager, Retail Solutions at Motorola Solutions