... In Today’s New Shopping Era
Written by Jeff Fromm | May 17, 2017 | Forbes.com
The rumor that Generation Z doesn’t shop in brick-and-mortar stores is not only exaggerated, it’s false. While they prefer to do their research online before making purchases, a joint study from the National Retail Federation and IBM Institute for Business Value, “Uniquely Gen Z,” found that 98% of Gen Z still shop in physical stores.
But that’s not to say retailers have an easy road ahead. The recent list of major retailers closing their doors — including The Limited, Wet Seal, JCPenney’s and Macy’s — shows consumer expectations are higher than ever. Retailers that don’t evolve and innovate to meet modern consumer needs, in physical as well as digital platforms, should expect a similar fate. And those that don’t optimize for mobile risk losing one of the largest and most powerful consumer groups in history.
In fact, at SXSW Interactive last year, Popsugar’s Anna Fieler said Gen Z teens are twice as likely to shop on mobile than millennials. Being raised in an era of instant, always-on access to information at their fingertips, they expect a quick, seamless and customized mobile experience. Retailers have eight seconds or less — err on the side of less — to capture their attention, so websites and mobile apps need to always load immediately and be easy to navigate.
In-store, teens today expect digitally connected experiences, such as interactive product displays, the ability to locate products via their mobile devices and the choice to pay via mobile. Subtler in-store experiences can also play an important role, such as the integration of upbeat music and friendly, helpful salespeople; aka anything that makes the customer experience more personal, engaging and fun.
“User experience is the new salesperson and customer support,” said Jonathan Cherki, founder and CEO of ContentSquare. “Gone are the days of a one-size-fits-all user experience. In the future, user experience will be the new brand.”
In its new ebook, Generation Z: The Coming of (Shopping) Age, ContentSquare says everything in a digital storefront – from your color scheme to your image selection to your check-out word choice — should work together to tell your brand’s story. The importance of telling this story the right way isn’t limited to retail, either. Cherki suggests industries such as banking, luxury, travel and hospitality should also take heed as they too will be vying for Gen Z’s attention as these young consumers come of age.
Considering this group already has a $600 billion influence on family spending and a nearly $44 billion yearly disposable allowance as a generation, I would readily agree. The future of retail is in their hands. It’s vital that retailers adapt now to these modern customer journey expectations, of which Gen Z is leading the charge, to achieve their greatest possible potential moving forward.
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