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Avoid fear and loathing from Gen Z consumers with these technologies

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Las Vegas would lay favorable odds on retailers who reach out to Gen Z with video, mobile, and on-demand solutions.

I recently discovered that late, legendary “gonzo” journalist Dr. Hunter S. Thompson most likely invented the term “Generation Z” in 1994. The opportunity to write about a topic originated by one of my all-time literary heroes is simply too good to pass up. So here are three technology platforms retailers can use to reach Gen Z shoppers where they already live, work and play.

There is a reason Walmart wants to invest in TikTok, and it’s not to deepen penetration of its existing customer base. According to comScore, more than 60% of the short form video platform’s 100 million active U.S. users are between the ages of 10 and 29. And Business Insider analysis indicates 65% of Gen Z consumers use Instagram every day and 62% are daily YouTube users.

If its investment is approved, Walmart is expected to become the exclusive e-commerce provider for TikTok in the U.S. However, Instagram has expanded shopping features to its IGTV long-form video app, and later in 2020 will enable purchases directly within video content across its IGTV, Live, Stories, and Reels offerings. And YouTube offers direct e-commerce capabilities such as shoppable Discovery ads. Video is not the wave of the future; Gen Z consumers are surfing it now.

When Gen Z consumes video, or any other form of digital content, it is most often via mobile device. Data from Criteo indicates the typical Gen Z consumer spends an average of 11 hours on their mobile device per week, while Institute of Business Management figures show about 75% of Gen Zers most frequently use a smartphone and 66% report using more than one internet-connected device at a time.

There is a good chance that any Gen Z shopper you are trying to reach will be using a connected mobile device, wherever they are and whatever the time. In addition to taking obvious steps like offering m-commerce sites that are optimized for mobile access, retailers need to design their entire omnichannel shopping experience around mobile users.

This includes developing offerings such as mobile wayfinding in stores; scannable QR codes that provide additional product information on shelf tags and advertisements; and location-based, personalized mobile promotions and notifications.

On-demand fulfillment
Gen Z consumers are digitally aware and constantly connected. So, it should not come as a huge surprise that they show high interest in using on-demand fulfillment services. Package Demand data reveals 58% of Gen Zers have used buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS), while First Insight data shows 22% have used curbside pickup (compared to just 13% of Gen X and baby boomer shoppers). And more than half (52%) of Gen Z consumers want an option for same-day shipping, according to Neopost Shipping research.

Retailers who do not have robust offerings for all three of these on-demand fulfillment services need to quickly establish them – certainly in time for the rapidly approaching holiday rush. Fortunately, numerous third-party platforms are available to quickly scale up these capabilities, even for retailers starting out with little or no supporting infrastructure.

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