Gen Z's Shopping List: Polite Robots And Cash-Free Checkout

Younger consumers are already at ease with tech-driven shopping, from metaverse commerce to interactive fitting room mirrors. But new research from Klarna, the global payments platform, vaults Gen Z 18 years into the future, asking what they expect retail to look like as they turn 40.

Better personalization tops the list. “Our data shows that consumers are looking for a future shopping experience beyond leveraging cool technologies just for added convenience,” says David Sandström, Klarna’s chief marketing officer. “They want their unique tastes and preferences to be encompassed in every facet of their shopping experience, from the initial stages of product discovery to seamless interactions with retailers, and even down to the products themselves.”

In an email to Retail Insider, Sandström says 26% of these consumers are convinced that shopping will be so customized and AI-driven “that they will no longer have to do the shopping at all if they don’t want to.”

Gen Z-ers genuinely like machines, with 59% of U.S. respondents saying they are generally open to robotic sales help taking measurements and offering style advice. Another 18% say they might be open to such a robot, depending on how it looks and acts.

Klarna also learned that 81% of Gen Z and millennials expect augmented reality to enhance in-store shopping.

Based on 5,000 consumers in five countries, the research uncovered vast geographical differences, both in terms of what’s already available and what consumers envision for the future.

“If you look at China, for example, consumers aren’t searching for products, but rather, products are searching for them, with 80% of online purchases driven by product recommendations,” according to the report.

To that end, Klarna is already collaborating with chatGPT to bring curated product recommendations to users who ask for shopping inspiration.

People also crave a more cashless world, which is how most of them live, with 64% agreeing that most physical stores will be cash-free in 18 years, and 31% predicting it will happen within five.

They’re also committed to more sustainability, with 57% wanting a circular economy to increase its share of the total shopping universe. Many are already participating in resale, and 26% say they intend to sell items more often, while 37% plan to buy more often.

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