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How Gen Z is Helping Brick-and-Mortar Thrive

How Gen Z is Helping Brick-and-Mortar Thrive


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It’s not what you would expect. The very last group of people you’d imagine would prefer shopping in-person does just that. True digital natives, they grew up in the digital age, and are connected to a device for multiple hours per day.

Who are they? They’re Gen Z, and they love physical retail! In fact, according to a study conducted by IBM and the National Retail Federation, 98% said they prefer to shop in brick-and-mortar stores.

So why does Gen Z, or the generation of people born between 1996 and 2010, love physical retail? Let’s take a deep dive into what drives them to appreciate the in-store experience more than other generations and how today’s businesses can successfully engage with them.

Why Gen Z Loves Brick-and-Mortar Retail

In-Person Shopping

First and foremost, according to the HRC Retail Advisory, Gen Z loves the in-person aspect of shopping at a mall or retail store. There’s something special about interacting with a brand in-person that online shopping just cannot do.

To leverage this unique advantage, focus on providing appealing store design as well as top-notch, personalized customer service – but only when your Gen Z shoppers want it (more on this point later).

Being Rewarded

HRC also provided some interesting information about Gen Z and reward/loyalty programs.

According to the Advisory, “Gen Zers want and demand reward experiences, with instant feedback and satisfaction especially important.” Keep your shoppers coming back for more by offering more.

The Merge of Physical and Digital

Let’s not forget that Gen Z still loves their smartphones, but what sets them apart is that they look to retailers to merge the physical with the digital.

According to MediaPost, Gen Z looks for retail shopping to be supported by mobile technology so that they can browse a shoe aisle in-store and instantly receive a mobile coupon for said footwear. In other words, “To Gen Z, retail and ecommerce shopping isn’t an ‘us vs. them’ scenario; rather, the two complement each other and accentuate the shopping experience.”

How to Cater to Gen Z

Support Self-Service

While they love being in the store, Gen Zers actually prefer to be left alone while they shop. In fact, a study conducted by Oracle NetSuite, Wakefield Research, and The Retail Doctor found that 42% of Gen Zers become annoyed by increased interactions with retail associates (versus millennials, Gen X, and baby boomers, who report feeling welcomed with more interaction).

Enable your Gen Z shoppers to shop within their comfort zone by incorporating self-service technologies, like AI- and VR-enabled apps (79% of retail executives feel the use of these would lead to increased sales), and self-service kiosk technology. It’s also important to provide a strong Wi-Fi connection so customers can successfully bridge the gap between physical and digital without any hiccups or headache.

Create Convenience

It’s important to remember that many members of Gen Z came of age and began spending money when two-day delivery policies were common, so they value and have high expectations when it comes to convenience, a recent Morning Consult study To accommodate these expectations, be sure to offer convenient options like buy online/pick up in store, buy online/return in store, and more.

Boost Branding

Gen Z spends over 4 hours per day on their smartphones. Are you capturing their attention online? To best appeal to them digitally, it’s a good idea to be active on social media and create content in an appealing format that targets their specific interests.

A good rule of thumb is to create content that’s easy to digest in just one glance, uses language that Gen Z uses (like emoji), and that’s highly shareable. Video is also a great idea – nearly half of Gen Z visits YouTube daily! Be sure to research which platforms to invest your time and money on – Instagram and Snapchat are more popular with Gen Z than Facebook, for example.

Looking to drive your shoppers to your social media accounts? A great way to do just that is by promoting your social accounts on your receipts, which customers are sure to see. Another great branding opportunity that’s sure to please is a loyalty program, which can also be promoted on receipts and feeds into the desire for Gen Z to receive perks, as well as connect the digital and physical retail realms.

In summary, keep these things in mind when it comes to Gen Z shoppers:

They value a convenient shopping experience that seamlessly merges physical and digital retail by incorporating mobile coupons and tailored social media messaging. They also prefer to shop at their own pace, in their own way. When it comes to this generation, it’s all about the omnichannel retail experience!

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