With every generation comes a new set of challenges and a brave new world of retail. From Baby Boomers to Gen X’ers and Millenials to Gen Z, today’s consumers are savvier and more connected than ever before. With the short walk to the shops replaced by a quick click, tap and swipe, retailers need to adapt to the needs of the next generation: Generation Z.


Who is Gen Z?

Born in the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, Gen Z is the first generation born into a fully digital world. They’ve never known a phone to be anything but smart, and to them, ads have always been targetted. According to Nielsen data, Gen-Z makeup 26 per cent of the population and together with millennials, they account for 48 per cent of the total media audience.

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Now that Gen Z is entering the workforce and amassing a disposable income, they’re challenging the retail world and setting new benchmarks for customer experience. Demanding convenience, fast or free shipping and multi-channel retail, this digitally native generation are pushing the boundaries for retailers.

With the potential to be customers for life, smart marketers are cottoning on to the unique opportunity Gen Zers present to brands.


Connecting with Gen Z

As true digital natives, Gen Z doesn’t know life before social media. Having grown up with Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram, they’re heavily influenced by social media and use these channels to make purchasing decisions, both online and in stores. Having grown up with technology, Gen Z knows they can get what they want when they want.

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As seekers of instant gratification, retailers need to provide faster, more convenient shopping experiences to hold their interest and loyalty. With a shorter online attention span, Gen Z doesn’t want to search – they’re looking for smooth and swift digital experiences.

As brand loyalists, Gen Z is seeking authenticity. Not interested in baseless slogans, Gen Z is driven by transparency and rely heavily on their social networks for recommendations on products and services. In a sea of fake influencers and online celebrities, Gen Z resonates with authenticity.


Engaging with Gen Z

Understanding what drives Gen Z is a big part of the battle. To capture the interest and loyalty of this generation, you’ll need to tailor your digital strategy to meet their needs. Here are a few ways retailers can connect with Gen Z:


Balance Cost with Convenience

With technology at their fingertips, Gen Z shop online for two main reasons: convenience of 24/7 shopping and access to cheaper products. From a retailers perspective, this means keeping your website up to date and stock levels accurate. Compared to other generations, at this point, Gen Z have smaller disposable incomes and are driven by affordability. To accommodate this, make sure your prices are competitive.


Mobile-first Mindset

While Gen Z still prefers to use computers and laptops for online shopping, more than a third use their mobile phones to shop online. In light of this mobile-first mindset, retailers need to make a monumental shift towards mobile to capture and cater to Gen Z. While most eCommerce websites are mobile-friendly, the shift towards the smartphone is about more than that. With teens moving from texting to messaging apps to communicate, retailers need to rethink how they interact with their customers, pre and post-sale.

ECommerce marketers should incorporate real-time order tracking updates via text message, Facebook Messenger, or through an app. Through these channels, Gen Z customers can communicate directly with the brand in the same way they communicate with friends.


Faster Delivery and Free Returns

There’s plenty of evidence pointing to the value of offering multiple delivery options. While other generations appreciate the choice, Gen Z demands it, – and, they’re more likely to abandon their cart if the shipping options don’t suit their needs.

Unlike Baby Boomers, this generation isn’t prepared to wait 3-5 days; at a minimum, they expect same-day, if not next-day delivery. With an emphasis on hyperlocal delivery, retailers need to provide choice and speed.

From a business perspective, the challenge is to balance consumer demand with profit and revenue. To meet Gen Z expectations, retailers need to increase their capability, and their network of carriers, as well as provide omnichannel shipping strategies like ship-from-store.

With retail behemoths like ASOS setting the bar for free returns, this generation has high expectations. With convenience and options expected, retailers should rethink their returns policy to meet the convenience-driven demands of Gen Z.

Understanding who Gen Z shoppers are and what they want is an essential step for retailers to remain relevant and future-proof their businesses. This new generation is driven by convenience and customer experience, so retailers need to invest in smarter ways to manage their shipping.

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