What we have heard for a while is the millennials and their wishes in retail. After all, it is important that millennials make up the majority of the workforce today. In other words, you have income to spend at the retail Shopping store. However, the next generation, called Gen Z, is expected to have a greater impact on retail shopping behavior than the previous generation. The Generation Z group is estimated to be about 1.5 million people in size than the millennial group. In fact, it is estimated that by 2020, a third of the U.S. population will be Generation Z. So you can see that the major changes in retail are really here.
Generation Z is best defined as people born after 1996. Millennials grew up with technology as siblings, but Gen Z was born in a post-digital world that makes technology the center of life, not an accessory. And as I’ll explain in a moment, retailers should quickly embrace this idea.
5 key characteristics of Gen Z buyers
- They have higher expectations: Expectations for retailers are more demanding and higher than other generations. If the shop experience is not provided, walk. They want stores that make it easy to access and test their products in a way that embraces technology, but they still want human interaction.
- They are less patient: If the expectations are not met (continuously exceeded), it continues. They rarely give two chances. And if the experience isn’t great, they usually share it on social media.
- They are not price sensitive: Other generations are about “trading”, but Gen Z tends to be more than about experience and are willing to pay for that.
- It’s distracting: Most Gen Zers have more than one device that interacts during the day. They think it’s a huge multitasker that moves quickly from one app to another. But we see them as more distracting. It misses the point in the sales presentation and is more difficult to communicate.
- They have an effect: According to a study by Interactions, 70% of parents turn to Gen Z children to help them make buying decisions. Thus, they influence not only their own purchasing decisions, but also those of their families.
Technology must Drive the Shopping Experience
A study commissioned by Euclid Analytics shows that the desire for brick and mortar stores remains the same. Gen Z still prefers to shop in stores and online. And this is good news. But they want retailers to understand that technology should drive the shopping experience. Now, let’s not go too far. They don’t ask for help from robots, they still want knowledgeable sales professionals. In fact, this study shows that Gen Zers are more likely to find salespeople in stores than Millennials. The problem is that most of the salespeople they contact are knowledgeable and professional. So they have to use Google and social media for advice. So they want technology in the center, but they don’t want to replace people.
For example, 53% of Gen Zers want free Wi-Fi in their stores (41% of millennials). They want to be able to actively access coupons and incentives. Therefore, the store offers a coupon or discount on the buyer’s mobile device depending on the store’s location. When the customer is in the shoe aisle, the deal for the shoe is indicated and the coupon is delivered to the food aisle manufacturer, the buyer does nothing.
Another way technology shapes retail is through the payment process. The biggest reason Gen Z employees choose online versus store is not having to wait in line. POS must be portable at the “point of sale”. Retailers like Apple are already moving in this direction, getting rid of the traditional cash packaging, and having mobile devices that allow store staff in all departments to fetch customers’ payment information as soon as they make a purchase. All smartphone operating systems have mobile payment options for customers.
The biggest cost for retailers is improving their POS infrastructure. Gen Z will ask for it and choose the store and store that has it. Take, for example, an Amazon grocery store without a checkout counter. The store’s scanner monitors what’s in the basket and charges you when you leave the store. In fact, retailers will take a long time before this becomes the norm or the required expectations, but it will come in the future.
A big trend in the store has been creating spaces for kids to play while parents are shopping. For the Gen Z, charging stations are required for your device while shopping. These shoppers use too much of their phones in their stores, so it’s important to keep their batteries fresh.
Facebook was a favorite of millennial shoppers. An instant shopping app is Gen Z Favorites. Texting leads the way, according to Euclid’s research, but apps like Snapchat and Instagram have been heavily used in-store among these users. That said, your store design and layout need to think about and adjust this behavior. It is more important to display a bulk stack of items than to display the complete solution on the end cap. Accessories move quickly and make decisions quickly, so accessories should be part of the sale, not add-ons from other generations.
What about the loyalty program? Do you like Gen Z shoppers? In fact, this study has shown that the loyalty program’s desire and use is the same as for the Gen Z as for the millennials. However, this generation requires loyalty programs to be digital, not paper. So, if you want a Gen Z guy as part of your loyalty program, you don’t have a punch card and a key ring. Give them apps or better apps. Please provide your mobile phone number by ID. Many POS systems have already figured out and adjusted this. For example, Square can award “stars” to loyal buyers in a retail store. What customers need to do is provide their phone numbers.
In conclusion, Gen Z still wants brick and mortar stores, but more than ever, they want an experience. And if they don’t get an experience that exceeds expectations, they’ll move forward. When asked what they would do when their favorite stores were closed, the majority said they would look for stores other than online. It is clear that you want an in-store shopping experience. However, the experience will be a technology hub. Technology will be the new employee.