98% of Generation Z are walking into stores on a regular basis according to a study by IBM, and greater than 60% actually prefer shopping in store according to Accenture. That’s higher compared to the older Millennial cohort.
On one hand, this is surprising, as they are considered the first digitally-native generation- unlikely to have known the world without the iPhone so one might presume they would be all-digital all-the-time. On the other hand, maybe this fact is not so surprising, as they are currently at a young age, teens to early twenties, and so they are primarily cash-based buyers which is not particularly conducive to shopping online. Regardless of why, it’s rather how they incorporate technology and brick and mortar into the way they shop that retailers need to take notice.
One thing is for certain, Gen Z reigns supreme when pre-shopping online before they head into a brick and mortar store. Not only do they research products on a retailer’s website, but they also consult friends via social media to decide what to buy, AND what to return. As high as 62% of Gen Z customers surveyed made a return decision based on feedback from friends, primarily on Instagram and Snapchat - the platforms preferred by this cohort.
The store remains critical to the overall decision to buy for Gen Z. Like Millennials though, they don’t transact in ways that fit with the current paradigm for measuring store success – same store sales. Retailers closing stores are missing the opportunity to capture and nurture these customers who make up a larger group of shoppers than either Millennials or Baby Boomers.
Gen Z’s behaviors provide yet another data point to the fact that simply relying on same store sales fails to account for the halo effect brick and mortar provides to ecommerce, and by closing stores based solely on this metric is only a recipe for bankruptcy.