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Gen Z’s Love for In-Store Shopping: Why Physical Shopping and the Omni-Channel Experience Matters

In Rakuten’s last blog post, we talked about Gen Z being a key driver of retail spend. In this piece, we will dive into a few pro-tips on how to enhance their in-store shopping experience.  

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In Rakuten’s last blog post, we talked about Gen Z being a key driver of retail spend. In this piece, we will dive into a few pro-tips on how to enhance their in-store shopping experience.  

Despite growing up in a digital age, Generation Z (Gen Z) still values the in-store shopping experience. This may come as a surprise, given the common perception that this generation is heavily reliant on technology and prefers to do everything online. However, it seems that when it comes to shopping, they still enjoy the experience of physically browsing and selecting products. In fact, almost half (47%) of Gen Z prefers to shop in a store, signaling the importance of bridging the online offline gap to deliver unforgettable experiences. A few themes emerge as we take a closer look at Gen Z that are important for retailers and advertisers to keep top of mind as they craft their in-store experience: 

Sensory Experiences Matter  

Firstly, in-store shopping allows Gen Z to touch, feel, and try on products before purchasing them. They don’t want to just make a purchase; they want to experience shopping. This is particularly important for fashion and beauty products, where the physical appearance and texture can play a significant role in the purchasing decision. The perceived quality of fabrics used for clothing or the ingredients in beauty products can be assessed in real time and are important to their buying decisions. Retailers who can create a pleasant, immersive shopping environment that engages multiple senses are likely to have an advantage when it comes to attracting Gen Z customers. For example, Sephora sets the sensory standard for beauty brands where shoppers can try on products, get free make-overs, and even take samples home with them to experience on a daily basis before making a buying decision. 

Value Social Connections 

Additionally, Gen Z values the social aspect of in-store shopping. It’s an opportunity for them to hang out with friends and get opinions on what looks good. A survey by Euclid found that 48% of Gen Z shoppers prefer to shop with friends or family, compared to 29% who prefer to shop alone. This suggests that retailers who can create a social shopping experience and a feeling of community are likely to appeal to this group.

A few ways retailers can do this in-store is ensuring sales associates are knowledgeable about the brands and products and are friendly to shoppers to create a connection not found via online shopping. Hosting in-store events such as beauty classes, fashion shows, and even product demonstrations that meet shoppers where they’re at can help create lasting impressions and build loyalty with Gen Z shoppers. 

Use Their Smartphones In-Store 

Gen Z shoppers spend a lot of time on their phones, in fact 55% of Gen Z use their smartphones for 5 or more hours in a day. When it comes to shopping in-store this audience like to feel like they’re making informed buying decisions. Most will use their smartphone in-store to look at price comparisons for products they want to buy, research reviews and compare product features, and even look for social proof from influencers and even friends they trust. This highlights the importance of omnichannel strategies that seamlessly integrate in-store and digital experiences. Offering buy online, pickup in-store, or return items in-store have become new expectations where brands must deliver speed and convenience for shoppers through their online shopping experience through their apps or mobile website. 

Sustainable & Socially Responsible Brands Are More Appealing 

Another trend among Gen Z shoppers is a preference for sustainable and socially responsible brands. A study by Deloitte found that 64% of Gen Z shoppers are willing to pay more for products from sustainable brands and socially responsible brands. Additionally, 80% of Gen Z buys second-hand goods according to eBay’s latest annual re-commerce report. Gen Z shoppers are highly concerned with the environment and how their buying decisions play a role in it. Retailers who can demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and social responsibility are likely to appeal to this group. Brands such as TOM’s shoes who are donating water for every shoe purchase, or Urban Outfitters using recyclable materials for clothing is very appealing to Gen Z. 

Omni-Channel is Essential for Attracting Gen Z

All this points to the fact that retailers need to prioritize their in-store shopping experience and create environments that cater to Gen Z’s preferences. Curating opportunities for shoppers to touch and feel product quality, engaging with helpful and knowledgeable sales associates, supporting causes they care about, and making it convenient for them to shop whenever and wherever they please will build a loyal Gen Z shopper for life. 

Get in touch to learn more. 

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