How Ecommerce Stores Can Build Loyalty with Gen Z Customers

Ecommerce sites are faced with the challenge of appealing to a new rising demographic – that of Generation Z. The newest consumer segment, also referred to as Gen Z, iGen and Centennials, is expected to be the largest group of consumers worldwide by 2020, making up 2.6 billion people globally with a spending power of about $44 billion. It is becoming crucial to understand this generation’s shopping habits and attitudes to tap into new revenue streams.

One thing that defines Generation Z is the age of rapidly advancing technological innovations they live in. Surprisingly, the multitude of choices has made Gen Zers more pragmatic when choosing brands or deciding where to shop. For ecommerce businesses this translates to an increased interest in both the person-to-person experience in brick-and-mortar stores as well as the convenience of online shopping. This creates the need for brands to be ubiquitous and maintain a strong presence both online and offline to attract consumers.

How Gen Zers Shop

Generation Z has a preference for speed and familiarity, which means the retail sector needs to make products as appealing as possible for short attention spans. Generation Z’s preference for efficiency means this generation spends the majority of its time online, where they regularly visit shopping sites.

The ability to easily make purchases online, quick delivery and a smooth shopping experience are at the top of the list when Gen Z shoppers decide where to buy.

The ability to easily make purchases online, quick delivery and a smooth shopping experience are at the top of the list when Gen Z shoppers decide where to buy. A new report by Shoppercentric looks at Generation Z shoppers (aged 15 to 24) and their buying behaviors. The study shows that this generation values experience more than material goods. For them, shopping is more about experiencing happiness than simply acquiring something. In the study, 34 percent of Gen Zers said that they want to feel they are having a good shopping experience, and 52 percent said going to physical shops and malls is as much a social pursuit as it is about buying things.

34 percent of Gen Zers said that they want to feel they are having a good shopping experience.

In addition to their changing view of shopping, Generation Z’s spending habits are strongly influenced by technology. Gen Z shoppers are twice as likely as other consumer groups to cite product displays as important when shopping in-store.  They’re also using their smartphones in-store more often, since it means they can get better information to help them decide what to buy.

As the most connected generation, Gen Zers have no problem buying more items than they want and returning what they don’t want. In fact, they view a brand’s return policy as crucial when deciding if they’re going to shop there.

The prevalence of technology, Generation Z’s frequent use of social media and its influence on its buying habits have dictated that brands become more digitally-savvy to keep up with their younger consumer demographic.

How ecommerce Businesses Can Target Generation Z consumers

Social media plays a huge role for Generation Z, and ecommerce businesses need to learn to start using social media networks as a way to engage with their target consumers online. One example of a company successfully capitalizing on the trend of new communication channels is ASOS. The brand’s heavy presence on all social channels – specifically those with a teenage user base like YouTube and Tumblr – has skyrocketed its visibility among young users.

While Gen Zers are no strangers to spontaneous buying, it’s inspirational browsing that’s becoming all the more common among their demographic.

While Gen Zers are no strangers to spontaneous buying, it’s inspirational browsing that’s becoming all the more common among their demographic. Due to the prolific use of smartphones, younger shoppers typically search online to gain inspiration before they decide what to buy. As a result, consumers are seeking out retailers that are able to validate their choices and instill confidence. One company that does this well is Missguided. Through a combination of mobile and social media, it stays present in the spaces that young shoppers spend their spare time, but more specifically, Missguided encourages user-generated content to inspire purchases. Its blog regularly features articles and posts from guest bloggers and social influencers, promoting how they shop and style Missguided.

Given that Generation Z shop online more than they do at traditional brick-and-mortar stores, it’s important for ecommerce brands to focus on the user experience in order to meet the demand for fun and immersive shopping.

Given that Generation Z shop online more than they do at traditional brick-and-mortar stores, it’s important for ecommerce brands to focus on the user experience in order to meet the demand for fun and immersive shopping. Brands like H&M and Next have designed websites that are visually attractive and easy to navigate to appeal to younger consumers. Rather than focusing on having multiple categories or transactional elements, their youth-targeted stores are designed to be intuitive and provide a straightforward checkout process. This meets the need of Gen Zers for efficiency and ease of use.

A key component of the buying experience for Generation Z is personalization.

A key component of the buying experience for Generation Z is personalization. The only way for ecommerce businesses to get on the radars of this age group is to deliver a smooth buying experience that offers related information to them, one-to-one recommendations and an intuitive checkout process.

A slow and difficult to use site is the surest way to have Gen Zers swiftly move on to the next competitor. A study by Forbes cites the attention span of Gen Zers at just 8 seconds, compared to 12 seconds for Millenials. This means brands should aim for even more personalized, thumb-stopping information to grab their attention.

The attention span of Gen Zers at just 8 seconds, compared to 12 seconds for Millenials.

But how do you successfully create engaging content for your Gen Z customers? Data. Use the collected data to appeal to your target demographic, learn their buying behaviors, history of previous purchases, gather information from them and create offerings tailored to their needs.

Chatbots and virtual assistants are already helping brands communicate with customers in powerful and direct ways at reduced cost. Another way to translate data into content Gen Zers want to use and are intrigued by is text messaging. SMS messages are a fast and sure way to reach this target demographic and connect with customers on a personal level. Given the preference of Generation Z for smartphones and messaging as a main form of communication, brands would be missing out if they don’t take advantage of this low-cost, flexible and powerful marketing channel.

Keep in mind that, more than any other generation, Gen Zers make for very loyal clients once they decide that a particular brand is worth their attention and money. Once you get the hang of how to get through to them using social media and technology, it’s only a matter of time before your brand reaches "cult" status.

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