Commentary

Younger Shoppers Stick With Physical Stores, Want Tech To Personalize Experience

Younger shoppers want future technologies that are functional and help them customize their in-store experiences.

Gen Z shoppers -- those between the ages of 13 and 21 -- want technology that adds real value.

These are among some interesting findings in a global survey of 16,000 Gen Zers by the IBM Institute of Business Value and the National Retail Federation.

The most important desire when shopping across channels is the ability to quickly find a desired product. Here are the most important things desired when shopping across channels:

  • 49% -- Ability to find what I want quickly
  • 44% -- Ability to decide how and where to shop
  • 41% -- Access to the best deals
  • 36% -- Speedy shopping and checkout
  • 30% -- Choice of different ways to pay
  • 28% -- High-quality customer service

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As to future technologies, younger shoppers are interested in tools that help them customize their own individual experience. Here are the technologies they would like to see in the future:

  • 54% -- Tools that would allow me to try out products in a store
  • 48% -- Tools that allow me to customize products for myself
  • 42% -- Ability to design unique products and create onsite with a 3D printer
  • 39% -- Robotics to help make purchase decisions or fix order issues
  • 32% -- Products that alert the store/manufacturer automatically for upgrades or fixes
  • 31% -- Interactive screens and other tools that help me go online while I am in a store

It looks like the physical store will be living on, since three times as many younger shoppers said they shopped in a store most of the time compared to online.  Even though they grew up digitally, almost all (98%) Gen Z shoppers globally said they typically make purchases in a store some or most of the time.

Many Gen Z shoppers already are using Internet-connected technology in stores, with 52% using their phones to look up products for price comparisons, 51% looking for coupons and 53% looking at items online that are not available in the store.

The younger shoppers also expect a more engaging in-store experience (60%), compared to mature markets (43%), and want a valued personalized shopping experience (54%) compared to mature markets (43%).

IoT technology is helping shopping evolve, and most of the serious action is still poised to happen in the physical store.

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