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Is It Time To Prepare Your eCommerce Store For ‘Generation Z’?

Generation Z
  • Written By Chris
  • Posted May 7, 2018
  • 6 minutes Read Time

As the famous saying from former US President Benjamin Franklin goes, ‘by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail’.

When considering the eCommerce industry as a whole, we could suggest that this quote relates to keeping your store prepared for the future rather than just maximising the present. The next generation of customers is likely to be quite different to the customer of today, so you need to be ready to reach them when they start to form the core of your audience.

The next wave of customers is from an era that has never been without the internet – Generation Z or ‘Gen Z’ for short have always been attached to the world wide web and in particular their smartphones. The oldest members within this generation are born in 1999 and by 2020, it’s expected they will make up the largest group of consumers worldwide – approximately 2.6bn people with a combined spending power of $44bn.

With this new generation of customers on the horizon, it’s crucial that your eCommerce store is as prepared as possible. If you don’t understand these people, you are waving goodbye to a huge chunk of future revenue.

Research has shown that, although Generation Z lives in an age where technology is advancing around them at an exponential rate, they still remain fairly pragmatic when it comes to supporting brands and choosing where to spend their money. Ironically, the study from IBM also showed that Gen Z isn’t afraid to put down their tech and go into physical stores. They still enjoy touching, feeling, experiencing products before parting with their cash – something a little frustrating for those of us with online-only stores.

That said, as responsibilities grow and access to credit increases, it’s likely that this generation will start to lose their affinity for bricks-and-mortar stores in favour of speed and accessibility online.

So, with all that in mind, what can you do to create a more engaging store for this particular generation and meet their needs more effectively?

Personalised Buying Experience

It sounds strange to say, but Generation Z is incredibly dependent on mobile devices, and it’s almost become a way of life. Knowing this is key, however, as it allows you to understand the best way to get into the world of this age group – personalisation.

If your eCommerce store doesn’t offer a uniquely engaging customer experience, chances are your audience will be off to a competitor that does.

If your eCommerce store doesn’t offer a uniquely engaging customer experience, chances are your audience will be off to a competitor that does.

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According to research from Forbes, the average attention span of Generation Z will be down to just 8 seconds, a further fall from the 12 seconds given by Millennials. Simply put, you’re really going to have to grab their attention with something impressive.

The best way to do this? Data. Although this is a bit of a hot topic at the moment, collecting the right data from your customers can help you better understand their buying behaviours and history of previous purchases on your store. Armed with this information, you can then curate a customised experience that offers the perfect products at the right times, all tailored to individual user needs.

Failing that, one of the more successful stop-gap avenues to consider are chatbots. Real-time customer service like this is probably just about enough to stop Generation Z from feeling to frustrated and moving to a competitor. If you can connect with the individual on a personalised basis, the relationship is instantaneously deepened and will likely lead to greater conversion rates.

Voice Search

Originally popularised by Siri, voice search has accelerated to the forefront of modern technology thanks to home-based products like the Amazon Echo and Google Home. The future of virtual assistants undoubtedly has huge potential, and some experts are firm believers that we’ve only just scratched the surface.

1 in 3 Generation Z consumers in North America are using voice search or commands on their smartphones regularly, with similarly high usage numbers among the older Millennials. It’s fair to say that we are likely to be sat at the base of what will be a huge upward curve in the use of voice search, so optimising your eCommerce store for it will do you no harm whatsoever.

If you can, focus on adding more long-tail keywords to your content or better yet, create entire sentences that answer potential voice-search questions. The key thing to bear in mind is this – the new generation will be searching for your products in a very different way, so now is the time to start thinking about how your store can cater for these behavioural changes.

Omnichannel Presence

The challenge of reaching a new audience is one that will continue indefinitely, but in terms of Generation Z, you need to target the channel they feel most comfortable using – social media.

Rather than just using it as a way to keep in touch with friends and family, this generation doesn’t think twice about interacting with a brand on social media sites. This adds further credence to the belief that Generation Z lacks much in the way of brand loyalty, instead opting for the most cost-effective solution to their needs.

From an eCommerce store perspective, this means you need to constantly stay on the radar of these young consumers across all the different platforms to remind them of what you’re bringing to the table. One of the biggest winners here is YouTube – the current addictive nature of this platform keeps Gen Z coming back for more and it’s certainly one avenue to consider in terms of content production.

You need to constantly stay on the radar of Generation Z consumers across all the different platforms to remind them of what you’re bringing to the table.

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If you need an example, check out ASOS and their YouTube channel. Their videos showcase easy ways to style specific clothing and generally better understand their products. Understanding the brand means customers feel a deeper affinity to ASOS and are therefore more likely to grow into a repeat buyer. This entire move is designed to create a consistent, unified brand across multiple social media platforms – and this is something that resonates with Generation Z perfectly.

Preparation!

Ultimately, the key to success for your store in the future will be heavily reliant on your connection with Generation Z.

They are a socially-engaged, sharp and confident group that has an extensive digital playground to explore and when this generation becomes the biggest part of the online audience from 2020 onwards, your store will need to be finely tuned to their preferences. The most exciting part of all this is the amount of data available to you as a store owner will be huge thanks to the advances in technology and online data collection. You’ll be able to personalise every site visit to perfectly target the user on the other side of the screen.

If you can understand this audience, you’ll be well on your way to eCommerce success.