Why Gen Z Customers Still Shop in-Store Compared to Online
While we may have seen dramatic increases in online spending during the pandemic, people will return to retail outlets after it is over.
Retail shopping is suffering but experts believe that they are unlikely to die. They may have to reform or transform the shopping experience for their customers but people express a desire to return to real shopping in a mall or a retail outlet.
Small businesses and big brands who are experiencing the effects of the pandemic may have either partially hopped onto the eCommerce bandwagon, dipped their toes into an online marketplace, or pumped money into online ads or search engine marketing, smaller retail outlets are still doing this on a smaller scale.
“The survey showed that 30.8% of consumers prefer to see or feel the item in person, and 29.9% want to buy a product right away.” - MultiChannelMerchant
Gen Z Customers Still Prefer In-Store Shopping
Despite citing their preference for discovering new brands, products, or services online through search engines and social media, the new breed of Gen Z shoppers says they still prefer to shop in a real store.
The Gen Z population, those born between the 1990s and mid-2000s, are born with mobile devices in their hands. They're a new population of shoppers who have information at their fingertips and are born skeptical. Social media and Googling things up is nothing new to them. Yet, 53% of Gen Z shoppers visit a retail store at least once a week and according to the National Retail Federation, they have approximately USD 44 billion in buying power. They are also powered by convenience and personalization in shopping.
A survey done by Evolution of Retail, 2017 Generation Z Shopper Survey Report polled over 1,500 consumers in the United States found that Gen Z shoppers who pore over social media and other digital touchpoints, which includes emails, likes to browse for products online but purchase them in a retail outlet instead of buying them online.
More than 75% of Gen Z shoppers say that their mobile devices are an integral part of their lives and a majority of them spend approximately 3 hours on social media every day. A mobile-first strategy is essential, and it shows that Google has one up on everyone, including retailers.
There are no substitutes for putting real products in a customer’s hands, letting them try out clothing in real-time, or testing out the brand new speakers for their homes, at the moment.
The Downsides of Online Shopping
While it is true that Gen Z generally is online most of the time, they consider it mostly akin to fog and smoke. They’re skeptical about nearly everything they see online, especially when it involves branding, marketing, and online information.
The reasons why prefer not to shop online has to do with the many downsides of online shopping which includes:
- Return policy
- Inability to test out products
- No guarantees
- Privacy issues
- Cost of shipping
- The long wait time
- Unreliable delivery service
- Low-quality products
- No customer service or very little interaction
- No service staff to consult with
- Too much competition, confusing when shopping
With nearly 17% of respondents revealing that online shopping compromises their privacy, they prefer to drive the distance to get the products they want in a real store.
Yes, there is cost involved when shopping in a retail outlet (driving, parking, time, etc) but coupled with the fact that shoppers find retail shopping far more satisfying and provide them with a form of relief from daily online stress, the reason is clear.
There’s also something weird about shopping without customer service at your beck and call as customers at this unstaffed Swedish digital supermarket can tell us.
Bringing your Online Followers to Your Retail Store
Merchants are now trying their utmost best to beat the online beast by trying to bring products to their customers BEFORE the final purchase. They’re trying to let customers feel and touch the products before committing to the purchase.
All of this is still in its teething stage and we still have much to see before everything comes out in the clear.
You can see this in the example of Amazon launching Amazon Fresh in Seattle, online shopping on Instagram, and Google Shopping Express in San Francisco. Zappos is giving its customers a whopping 365 days to return their products for free, and Birchbox is giving out free samples.
These are fine examples of how established brands with deep pockets are trying to overcome the gaping hope between online and offline shopping. Bear in mind, these were already in the making before we were hit by the pandemic. Everyone simply pivoted more quickly this year 2020 because of the worldwide economic crisis.
This year, more and more small companies, brands, and retailers are DIY-ing their way into the hearts of their customers. And maybe they’re on to something.
Drawing your Customers to your Store with Online Touch Points
For brand discovery, Instagram has been winning every game with Gen Z shoppers, while Snapchat sees the most engagement and revenue. Facebook takes 40% of the pie.
Despite the stats, Gen Z shoppers still prefer a real in-store shopping experience. Citing their preference to be able to hold, see, touch, try out, or smell the products they saw on social media before they buy, Gen Z shoppers also like to engage with you as a retailer while shopping.
So, here's what the business marketing plan will look like.
First, you come up with a really eye-catching concept for your Instagram or Facebook post. Then, you hunker down to capture the most enticing picture your Smartphone can muster and tweak it with the latest app. Then you post it up on your social media feeds or Stories; or you can place an ad with a small budget to capture leads.
These are ways retailers are experimenting with social media to capture the attention of Gen Z shoppers to encourage them to visit their stores in person. For instance, organizing a warehouse sale once every year and boosting it on social media to bring life to the retail store.
The point is to draw their attention to your products/services that are relevant to them online and bring them to your store while giving them an alternative to getting your products and services online.
Alternative, a win-win situation for both.
To bring the new group of shoppers to your retail outlet, you need to find a balance between personalizing the experience for them and a compelling reason to engage and make the purchase. These are mobile-first customers we are talking about so, they want to see what they saw on your social media feeds when they walk into your store. No two ways about it.
Make the Most of Your Online Presence in your Retail Outlet
Whatever you highlighted on your social media feeds, be sure they’re prominently displayed in your store. Make it easy for your shoppers to find them.
31% of Gen Z shoppers say that it is hard for them to find the very thing that has captured their attention on social media when they make their way to the real store.
Gen Z shoppers also expect retailers to offer a more personalized experience based on their habits and preferences. Millennials and Gen X are not too far behind when it comes to this stat.
When your potential customers walk into your store, there’s a chance that they’ve seen something you’ve posted online. That’s why experts recommend highlighting such products or services in your offline store. If they’ve Googled something and found it online, they don’t want to spend too much time browsing through everything you have or spend 20 minutes sifting through everything ‘they’re not looking for’ just to find that ONE THING they are.
Perhaps it is also time for retailers to step up on their customer service with training while adhering to the latest Covid-19 guidelines set by our respective countries. These are ways brands can connect with shoppers through social media marketing and it is worth exploring.
Partnering Up with Companies, Brands, and Personalities
Last year, Missguided, a UK-based fast-fashion outlet, got in on the game with the TV reality show, Love Island, to dress up celebrities and public figures with their outfits. Viewers on the show who would like to buy an outfit they saw on the show can shop for them online even as they’re browsing through their phones or visit the store.
Brands and retailers should think of ways to catch buyers’ attention by tying up and collaborating with other companies, brands, or personalities to make products more real to customers, as opposed to stopping at just putting up images, videos, and writing about it.
That’s the kind of extra mile the new generation of shoppers want to see when they’re looking to buy something. Gen Z looks to both macro and micro-influencers for insights into new products and services they see online.
Gen Z shoppers are 1.3 times more likely to buy a product or engage in a service recommended by an influencer, compared to a TV star or Hollywood celebrity. A whopping 78% of Gen Z shoppers have read an online review about products and services before buying into it. They come armed with both information and questions.
So, if it's on the cards, tying up with micro-influencers or social media big names could be something to explore in your up-and-coming marketing meeting. It’s one of the most effective ways, at least for now, to convince a highly skeptical bunch of shoppers.
The good news is they still prefer in-person shopping to online shopping. That’s the one thing that’s NOT working against you during these tough economic times.
So, buff up your stores and bring your shoppers offline from your online platforms.
For one, if you’re looking for ways to revamp your retail outlet without breaking your budget in Malaysia, have a look around our website, visit our social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram and find out more about buying quality slatwall display shelving from a reliable display products company to give your outlet a new look.