Where will your new customers come from over the next 5 years?

It’s a tough environment out there; we don’t have to tell you that. The only way to survive intense market competition and low margins is to find new customers to target – and that means looking further ahead than ever.

Children are the future (customer)

As loathe as we are to quote Whitney Houston, children are our future and we should let them lead the way. They are the bankers, lawyers, doctors and entrepreneurs of tomorrow. And from your perspective, they are the next big spenders.

The disposable income of Generation Z – those born between 1995 and 2010 – is only going to rise, but tapping into this consumer group isn’t a case of simply applying old engagement techniques to a new audience.

This is the first generation of true digital natives, and they want something different from their retail experiences. But what?

To help retail CEOs get under the skin of what future shoppers will want from the store, Vodat International carried out an exclusive survey of 1,000 young consumers, and it produced some stark revelations.

3 reasons that younger shoppers turn to the store

If Generation Z wants convenience they will shop through their smartphone, yet 4 in 10 still make most of their purchases through a store. So what drives them there?

Our study revealed three key trends about how this emerging shopper group uses bricks-and-mortar in a different manner to older consumers:

  • Problem solving – the store is a hub for answering questions or providing services that ecommerce cannot, from avoiding shipping charges to getting hold of an item quicker than ordering it online
  • Validation – 4 in 10 Generation Z shoppers will go into a store to make their final purchase after researching a product online. This is not unusual in itself, but the care and deliberation they take in making that decision is; a quarter will go into a store at least twice before making their mind up
  • Socialising – the store holds an important role as an inspiration centre for younger shoppers, in terms of a place to get new ideas, a chance to speak with sales staff, or an opportunity to upload images to social media while out shopping with family and friends

For the store, this very much means becoming more than a place of transaction. Bricks-and-mortar must find ways to assist, engage, verify and support younger shoppers – and technology plays an important role in bringing this store experience closer to what Generation Z shoppers want.

Bricks-and-mortar is sitting on a technology ticking clock

Any of you with teenage children will already know that most of their life takes place digitally. Yet, Generation Z doesn’t feel retail stores are doing enough to bring their love of technology into the shopping experience.

Half of Generation Z shoppers would rather go to a store associate with a tablet computer than queue at a checkout, for example, while 4 in 10 want digital information points. They crave anything that will deliver the information-rich, personally tailored experiences they are becoming accustomed to online. For more insights, download our report: Gen Z, the Store, and the Technology Ticking Clock.

The clock starts now…

While you may already be weighing up the best customer-facing technologies to implement over the coming five years, capturing Generation Z’s spending power rests on more than giving them digital devices to interact with in-store.

The biggest obstacle standing between most retailers and a generation of new consumers is their store network. In reality, most stores cannot fulfil the digital demands of the shoppers that are walking through their doors right now, let alone in five years’ time, and the root cause of this is overstretched retail networks.

As the person steering the ship, it’s vitally important that retail CEOs recognise this pain point now, and put the network foundation in place to scale their technology use as shopper demands for connected store experiences increase. Without a robust, secure, adaptable network, even the most progressive in-store technology will fail to delight younger shoppers – because it won’t work effectively.

Remember, Generation Z is coming of age. And your brand must be there to greet them.

To find out more about how Generation Z will impact your business, download Vodat International’s latest report – Coming of Age: Generation Z, the Store, and the Technology Ticking Clock.

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