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Study: Gen Z shoppers like physical stores

The majority of Gen Z shoppers prefer to do their shopping in brick-and-mortar stores— especially when the locations are convenient.

According to a survey of Gen Z shoppers (aged 18 to 22) by prescriptive analytics provider Profitect, 42% of respondents prefer to shop in-stores vs online. A further 34% prefer to shop in-stores and online equally, while only 23% indicated they prefer to shop online only.

“Our survey of Gen Z shoppers found that the in-store shopping experience still plays an important role in the shopping journey, even with digital natives,” said Guy Yehiav, CEO of Profitect. “From price and deal shopping, to ease of returns, to interest in checking product availability, the data demonstrates that retailers should not neglect the importance of a strong in-store and online strategy.”

When asked what holds the most influence on choosing to shop at a particular store over another, 48% of Gen Z respondents selected convenient location. Additionally, 65% said that the most convenient method of returning an item they purchased online was to go into the store.

“With almost half of Gen Zers choosing convenience, especially when returning, more retailers should consider pickup and return through their network of partners, or their own brands,” said Yehiav. “While Amazon was quick to exploit this advantage through Kohl’s and Whole Foods, other retailers like ascena, Abercrombie & Fitch, and others with multiple brands are well poised to establish these channels.”

In line with respondents’ preference to shop in stores, the survey found that 46% of Gen Zers noted that browsing in-stores is their biggest influence to shop. Also, 67% of respondents indicated that the factor that mostly prompts them to add more items to their shopping basket is their feelings at the time.

In other findings, 40% said in-store displays influence them to add items to their basket. In a nod to the importance of retailers’ omnichannel presence, 33% noted that online and in-store advertisements influence them to add items to their basket.

“An interesting finding was that once shoppers are in the store, they tend to be influenced by their emotions and therefore an impulse buying strategy is critical, as well as in-store displays and advertisements online needs to be aligned,” said Yehiav. “To this point, there is a strong argument for retailers to get Gen Zers into stores in order to act on those impulses and expand their baskets.”

The survey results highlight that Gen Z shoppers may not place a significant emphasis on in-store associates as an influencer to buy, unless they had a negative experience, according to Profitect.

Asked to select the two biggest reasons to shop at a particular retailer, only 11% of respondents said that in-store experts or consultants who can help them shop was important. When asked what prompts them to add more items to a shopping basket, 19% selected in-store associates or salespeople.

However, while all responses about preference for in-store associate were relatively low, 57% said that poor customer service would be the biggest reason for them to stop shopping at a favorite retailer.

“While the data indicates that Gen Zers like to research their needs by themselves rather than consult an expert at the store, it also shows that the shopping experience can easily turn sour if experience with staff is poor,” explained Yehiav. “Given this information, retailers should ensure that in-store staff is properly trained and available when they are needed. Staff performance data can indicate which stores and employees are performing better than others so retail leaders can make smart decisions on training.”

In other survey findings:

• Half of Gen Z respondents reported that they would stop shopping at their favorite retailer if they were constantly out of stock on desired items.
• Sixty of respondents always or sometimes checking a store’s in-store inventory availability online before going to make a purchase.

“Twenty percent would never shop at the retailer again if a website said a product was available in-store, but it was actually out of stock,” said Yehiav.

“Given this finding, retailers should invest in solutions that ensure stock is up to demand and that websites accurately reflect in-store inventory,” said Yehiav.
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