Ah, Millennials. We’ve seen endless articles about their power to change the retail industry and their impact on the purchasing landscape. However, coming up right behind Millennials is Generation Z, which holds upwards of $44 billion in buying power.

This generation of consumers, born between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s, is expected to outnumber Millennials by three million. As such, retailers and consumer brands need to plan for this shopper, or watch the competition lure them away.

Meet Gen Z

Generation Z is the first generation that can’t remember a time without internet access anytime, anywhere—they are known as the first true “digital natives.” Unlike Millennials, who love to shop online, surprising research shows Gen Z prefers to shop in brick-and-mortar stores. For example, a recent study by the National Retail Federation and IBM’s Institute for Business Value found that 98 percent of Gen Z wants to shop in-store.

Unlike previous generations, though, Gen Z shoppers crave a new kind of shopping experience. They desire collaborative engagement, personalized and interactive experiences or experiential events with little hassle, and they want to engage with their favorite brands across all channels. So, retail companies need to improve both in-store and online experiences if they hope to serve this mobile-focused, high-spending demographic.

The deep integration of technology into Gen Z’s everyday life has impacted the way they shop:

  • They typically conduct online research or crowdsource advice on social media before making any purchases.
  • They already have a purchase in mind when they walk into a brick-and-mortar store—and will look to their smartphone rather than retail staff for information.
  • After purchasing a product, they often post about their shopping experience or merchandise on social media. If they don’t find what they want, they typically leave to conduct further research.

Augmenting the Customer Experience for Gen Z

Retailers today are struggling to meet consumer demands. To adapt, they must inspire loyalty with customers who are bouncing between brick and mortar, online shopping, mobile and social platforms. This new generation of consumers is looking for a seamless shopping experience that fuses their online and offline worlds. They want authentic relationships with their favorite brands—yet many retailers are struggling to deliver on these expectations.

As such, it’s critical for retailers to offer customers more than just a shopping opportunity—Gen Z demands a shopping experience. Retailers are responding to this shift in shopping habits by turning to experiential marketing campaigns; creating immersive shopping experiences that drive traffic and sales. To stand apart from the competition, brands are experimenting with installations, informational displays, showrooms, experiential events and even AI to develop loyal customers who will want to come back for more.

In-store technology, in particular, combines the ease and convenience of online shopping with the practicality and tangibility of the physical world. In-store tech not only engages the consumer but also increases an organization’s revenue through valuable data insights.

As retailers think of all the great new tech that can help make the in-store experience seamless, it is important not to overlook the center of it all: humans. By using a retail task management and field execution platform, retailers can empower retail and field teams—whether they are sales associates, brand ambassadors or merchandisers—to provide better customer experience and make data driven business decisions using consumer trends and advanced field reporting.

Investing in an enterprise task management solution can also help retailers to reach Gen Z shoppers by:

  • Streamlining store communications and giving customers a white glove experience. For instance, they can ensure that the most knowledgeable retail staff are working during peak demand hours.
  • Empowering associates to deliver an exceptional shopping experience. Retail sales associates need to change the way they operate and cater to the way Gen Z prefers to interact. They need to offer more than just basic product knowledge, so that Gen Z shoppers don’t feel that their smartphone is their only reliable resource.

Outpacing the Competition with a Complete Retail Task Management Solution

To stay ahead of the competition, retailers need to offer differentiated brand experiences that offer high-impact engagements and personalization—regardless of the customer’s choice of venue. Implementing an enterprise task management solution like Natural Insight gives retailers a way to accommodate this generation and their expectation of an enhanced shopping experience.

Schedule a demo with us today to learn how Natural Insight can help you improve your in-store performance and stay competitive in the ever-changing retail landscape.

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Caroline Lane is the Director of Marketing at Natural Insight. Prior to joining Natural Insight, Lane was a senior marketing manager with Aquicore, an energy management software system for real estate portfolios. Lane was one of the company’s first ten employees hired and was responsible for building Aquicore’s marketing strategy from the ground up. Lane also previously worked at Renault - Nissan where she helped the automobile manufacturer penetrate more than 14 Asian and African countries. She has a Masters of Science in Management from EMLYON, one of Europe’s top ranking business schools located in France.