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Gen-Z visit stores to ‘validate’ product purchases

The younger generation are using physical stores to test out items before making a purchase, according to research by Vodat

Almost 70% of Gen-Z shoppers are visiting stores to test products before they make a purchase, according to research.

A study by Vodat found that shoppers born between 1995 and 2010 are the most motivated to shop in store to “validate” their purchases by trying out products in a physical environment.

Gen-Z consumers are more likely to visit a shop so they can gain products immediately, and 42% said their main motivation for visiting physical stores is social interaction.

Paul Leybourne, head of sales at Vodat International, said: “Generation Z will undoubtedly prove the biggest disrupting force to physical retail over the next five years. The biggest danger to retailers is that they are completely unknown – their habits do not reflect those of their predecessors, the Millennials.”

According to the Vodat research, Gen-Z will become a more active group of shoppers over the next five years, forcing retailers to adapt to their digital expectations.

But many will be unable to adapt quickly enough, leaving a gap between what consumers expect from the shops and what the shops can deliver.

Almost half of those between the age of 10 and 21 are more likely to visit a store if they can gain access to free WiFi, and 38% would be more inclined to visit a store with self-checkout services.

The retail environment is becoming increasingly more omni-channel as technology proliferation grows, and consumers now expect a consistent brand experience across all channels including stores, mobile and online.

Read more about omni-channel retail

  • Head of online operations development at Sainsbury’s, Dave Crellin, says retail channels are growing so fast that customers don’t know what they want.
  • Research by Accenture finds customers think retailers could provide a more unified approach across all platforms.

In the future, Gen-Z expect more complex technology to be available in stores. Some 18% of young shoppers said the ability to use “scan and shop” applications for browsing and purchasing in stores is what’s most likely to drive them to a physical shop.

Augmented reality changing rooms and virtual queue ticketing systems are important tech advancements for around 20% of young people.

Around 15% of Gen-Z would like more personalisation to appear in stores in the next five years, with 16% claiming they want changing rooms to be customisable with choice of lighting, temperature and music by 2021.

Blending physical and digital experience

However, this increase in technology and online shopping has not rendered physical stores irrelevant, with 38% of GenZ shoppers continuing to make a majority of their purchases in a shop.

Leybourne said failing to implement the technology younger people are expecting in shops may shift this attitude in the future, pushing consumers towards retailers that can offer them the digital customer experience they are expecting.

“Our research shows that, for digital natives, going into the store is the embodiment of omni-channel. It is a truly blended physical and digital experience, where each channel plays to its own strength to create a better standard of customer service,” said Leybourne.

But many retailers, such as banks, have legacy systems that make it difficult to properly implement technology, such as mobile applications or collection and utilisation of customer data.

To deliver the omni-channel experience customers have come to expect, retailers will have to focus on developing back-end systems to support new consumer-facing technology.

Read more on IT for retail and logistics

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It’s not really isolated to any particular generation. Online shipping has become so ubiquitous that pretty much everyone uses the physical store for the tactile aspects of buying, but then goes online to find it cheaper. Except maybe die hard Apple users, but they’re a little different anyway.
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Living in an online universe has serious drawbacks. Brick & Mortar shops are filling in, but at quite a cost to their owners. I expect online outlets will move ever deeper into real-world shops that support their sales. A place to try, test and talk to other users before handing over a credit card (or holding up your chip-enabled right hand). By and large, few people are comfortable buying a pig in a poke....
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