The Retail Online Shopping Experience Differs for Generation Z: Are You Ready?

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Generation Z Online Retail Shoppin Experience - Eminent SEO

There’s probably nothing more generic than the phrase, “Let’s go shopping”! Over the years, how people go shopping has changed just as much as where they go shopping because with online purchasing, the how, where, when and why of shopping shifts – in an instant.

Consumers demand choices, more than ever before. With Generation Z moving into the forefront of retail business owners’ minds (as they should), the face of the retail online shopping experience is only part of the larger picture in targeting consumers’ wants to equal product niches and availability.

Retail Websites Need to Drive Intrigue, Not Just Sales

Generation Z Girl Entertained By iPad - Eminent SEOSome U.S. retail hubs, like JCPenney, have totally missed the mark on changing consumer behavior. Sure, they have websites, but doesn’t everyone?

If your web presence isn’t more than a poster board for your corporate culture or a lengthy display ad for your wares, what is it really doing for you? Better yet, what is your website really doing for your customer?

According to senior national retail consultant Catherine Mountain, brick-and-mortar retailers have been closing their doors in record numbers in recent years because they were, and are still, “homogenized.”

“Generation Z wants a compelling reason to shop at your business,” said Mountain. “There has to be a good why. They have the money, but they don’t want their time wasted. When they figure out what they want, which might take a while, they are ready to act and don’t want to wait for delivery.”

Even online retail giant is opening physical stores, as Mountain pointed out.

If retail online shopping experiences don’t create interest or provide content that engages the viewer and leaves them wanting more, all you really have are multiple landing pages, a destination. Generation Z wants so much more. They want the journey.

Gen Z Craves Unique Experiences Where Retailers Provide the Tools

Generation Z Parents Want Children To Work In High School - Eminent SEOThough there are exceptions, as a whole, each generation comes with a mindset or unspoken cultural guidelines. The young people of Generation Z are fueled by innate intelligence and seldom take things at face value. Why should they? What gets their attention is unabashed authenticity, and more.

Generation Z appreciates:

  • Innovation
  • Craftsmanship
  • One-of-a-kind products
  • Customization
  • Anti-establishment
  • Quality
  • Meaningful customer service
  • Purchases with cause
  • Good stories

Discriminating? Perhaps. Selective? Undoubtedly.

Where did this mentality come from? It came from them, honestly. In fact, it’s how Gen Z was raised.

Childhood and Parenting Play a Role

2.6 Billion Generation Zers By 2020 - Eminent SEOThere is an interesting oxymoron embedded within Generation Z. On one hand, they are dedicated to social consciousness to a point where if you don’t have it, you’re just not good enough.

On the flip side, they want to be taken care of through a level of service that is more than attentive, but actually intuitive. Is this an impossible expectation?

Let’s dive deeper.

Digital communication for Gen Z is not a choice, but their only reality. The intuitive nature of the internet shopping experience over the years has blossomed and is somewhat oversaturated with deceptive pay-per-click ads and data-mining techniques that mirror online consumer behavior, to a point. Gen Z desires change, not merely for the sake of change, but with purpose. It’s just how their minds work.

Their parents believe in entrepreneurship and, more than likely, both are working. Helicopter moms were replaced by empowering role models that pushed coping skills instead of protective barriers.

These children and young adults are self-directed and do not have the fears that many millennials carry. If a Gen Z child wants to know something, there is no hesitation in asking. Their individuality is the new norm, as conventional attitudes are not only so yesterday, but offensive.

The Evolution of Shopping

For decades, there was an art in shopping known as salesmanship. Today, people don’t want to be sold, convinced or coerced into a single purchase. Generation Z personifies the compilation of generations before it.

Baby Boomers want their shopping experience to be simple, Generation Xers want it fast and millennials don’t want the purchase to involve any work.

Meanwhile, Generation Z wants all of the above – but honest, transparent and specific to their needs, every time.

Loyalty Matters

Many retail online shopping experiences include special rewards programs or referral incentives. These fall flat on the Generation Z population. They know that these programs are geared to benefit the retail business more than the customer, as businesses are trying to pursue customer retention and build their list of prospects.

Ernst & Young learned in a 2015 study that only 30 percent of Gen Zers thought that a rewards program made a store worth their attention, compared to 45 percent of millennials. To gain customer loyalty from Gen Z requires the retailer to show them respect and loyalty first. It appears that the adage “respect is earned, not given” is resurfacing.

Cause and Conscience Matters

Even the way business engages social consciousness has transformed. In the past, many companies included a charitable component as an afterthought or a requirement to garner tax benefits and positive press from the media.

Generation Z can see through it and demand that altruism is an integral part of a business’ platform. Even Stevens, a local sandwich shop in Gilbert, Arizona, fulfills the Gen Z requirement. For every sandwich it sells, the owners donate a sandwich to the hungry. To date, Even Stevens has provided more than 1.2 million sandwiches to help eradicate hunger in America.

What’s Your Story?

When you appeal to Generation Z, your marketing world opens wide with possibilities. This is the target audience that yearns for a good story. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves, and if your product/service and company culture resonates with them, they will be your best marketers.

Your brand voice will become their brand voice, socially sharing their consumer experience every step of the way. If you have an on-site retail center or store – the benefits are even better.

The Resurgence of Brick-and-Mortar Shopping

With research and inquisitiveness leading the buying lifecycle of Gen Z, many retailers are fulfilling the need for more a personal touch with the redesign or new construction of actual on-site stores.

International retail chain AllSaints has addressed the changing needs of the consumer to positively engage Generation Z. Young people can go to any AllSaints location, after ample research online, and gain more product knowledge from hipsters who live in big cities and speak their proverbial language.

AllSaints’ website, physical stores and customer experience engage interaction through a consistent, no-nonsense brand voice, displays, and high-end, private-label products.

Brick-and-mortar shopping isn’t a dinosaur. Generation Z has provided the reason to bring it all back in the form of shopping with purpose.

If your business needs an online refresh or strategic update to align with new target audiences, Eminent SEO can help! Give us a call at 800.871.4130 today to learn how.

Avatar for Melanie Stern

Melanie Stern

Looking at the world through word-colored glasses, I am continuously in awe of how we evolve as people in business. We strive to communicate in a direct approach and, when we see fit, through subliminal channels. As a content strategist, I look forward to sharing all perspectives to help entertain, enlighten and engage more in others.

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Avatar for Melanie Stern

About Melanie Stern

Looking at the world through word-colored glasses, I am continuously in awe of how we evolve as people in business. We strive to communicate in a direct approach and, when we see fit, through subliminal channels. As a content strategist, I look forward to sharing all perspectives to help entertain, enlighten and engage more in others.

18 thoughts on “The Retail Online Shopping Experience Differs for Generation Z: Are You Ready?

  1. Avatar for Melanie SternChris Weatherall

    It seems like such an easy thing to get right because the consumer request is so plain and simple! Understand who your product is for and give them what they want. It’s hard to think of a retail site that nails it but first one in my mind is They sell motorcycle stuff on their site by mainly making YouTube videos that are salesy but speak the language of the bikers and they’re doing $80 million a year in this very niche market.

    1. Avatar for Melanie SternMelanie Stern Post author

      Hi Chris! It is super important to be cognizant of your business “audience”. I mean, like you said about the motorcycle site you mentioned, can you imagine what a turn off it would be if their company was off-target and their approach was a tad too flowery? LOL

  2. Avatar for Melanie SternJ Cvitkovich

    The retail experience for Generation Z is very much old school meets new school. Customers crave the feel of yesteryear mixed with today’s tech and convenience. Take BarkBox for example, they take hand picked products from local and indie shops, mix in the ease of shipping those curated products straight to your door, and then top it all off by supporting shelters and rescue organizations. Last year they even had, the increasing in popularity, pop-up shop element, where customers and their fur babies could try out their products in person and then order them through their app. Makes me feel good about this company just thinking about it!

    1. Avatar for Melanie SternMelanie Stern Post author

      I’ve heard about BarkBox. Gotta love it! I’m excited that the old-school store experience is getting a resurgence. Makes me wanna shop again. Uh-oh!

  3. Avatar for Melanie SternJessica

    I really enjoyed this article. It’s very true that Gen Z wants to have a connection to their purchase whether it is one-of-a-kind or their purchase is supporting a great cause. E-commerce has completely changed the Brick and Mortar experience. In order to stand out, you have to be appealing and innovative. You have to offer a unique curb appeal at your location to keep consumers coming back. Some retailers are using technology to attract shoppers to their establishments such as self-check out, augmented reality or RFID-enabled smart mirrors.

    1. Avatar for Melanie SternTeam Eminent SEO

      Exactly Jessica. When I worked at Intel a few years ago, I was amazed at the new digital retail technology available. If I remember correctly, there was an Adidas store in Israel that used a digital Kiosk so a person could provide their product size, preferred shoe style, and they would instantly receive notification as whether the store had it in their size and recommend other shoes that would fit them and the corresponding size. Sort of creepy though. It requires humans to think less and less…

  4. Avatar for Melanie SternChris Beckley

    If Gen Z is seeking companies with a cause and a conscience, then that is good news for the future. Hopefully the next generation (my kids) will continue along that line of thinking and take it to the next level. What should the next generation after Z be called? If my kids are typical of this next generation (and if my hopes are realized), then I would like to suggest the “Empathetic Generation.”

    1. Avatar for Melanie SternTeam Eminent SEO

      Hi Chris. Ya know… we could all use a little more empathy in our lives. Especially after spending too much money online. LOL

    2. Avatar for Melanie SternCal Hanson

      This is true. Generation Z expects a certain threshold from online companies, and with companies constantly competing with one another, they will have no choice but to increase their “intrugue,” whichever way the decide is best.

  5. Avatar for Melanie SternZachary Ankeny

    Really great article. If you sell any sort of product or service, you HAVE to be online-savvy anymore, there is just no getting around this. The truth is that anyone CAN have a successful online business, but knowledge of online culture, some tech-savvy, and ability to adapt to digital trends (constantly) is key.

    Also, the latest generation needs to be called #TinderBoomers, Chris.

    1. Avatar for Melanie SternTeam Eminent SEO

      Zach… it’s so tough to keep up with what’s trending… much less intuitively know what will be “the next best thing since sliced bread.” And even that – not as many people eat bread these days. 😉

  6. Avatar for Melanie SternPhil

    Interesting to know that they need more than what you can offer to use your website. Making a compelling reason for them to be there is a good way to do this and one I will try and use for my own personal sites! Thank you.

    1. Avatar for Melanie SternMelanie Stern Post author

      Thanks for your thoughts Phil. I’m happy in knowing that people seem to be more savvy, which helps force us all to tap in to our intelligence and intuition in business.

  7. Avatar for Melanie Sternangad

    Really Nice post Melanie .
    Bookmarked your website eminent seo.
    Actually nowadays with so many Ecommerce websites here and there,
    customers do get confused on what to buy and which is the best suitable site for that product.

    1. Avatar for Melanie SternChris Weatherall

      Or they just say screw it and only trust and go to Amazon who has a rush of counterfeit products from China everywhere

  8. Avatar for Melanie SternMelissa French

    Generation z today is very meticulous and they want to explore everything. That is why thank you for sharing your brilliant ideas and suggestions. Just keep on posted to us. Have a wonderful day.

    If you would like more information please send us a message or give us a call. We are here to help you. You may also visit us


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