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How to Improve In-Store Shopping Experience for Gen-Z Shoppers

Once, retailers were all about targeting Millennials. Now, the next wave of consumers, Generation Z, have come of age and are used to the digital era. They don’t know a world without internet and mobile phones. But they’re still all about human interactions. Here’s how to improve in-store shopping experience for Gen-Z shoppers and how retail WiFi can help.


Who are Gen-Z and Why Should Retailers be Targeting Them?


Gen-Z are the generation cohort who follow the Millennials. Research has found that the two groups are similar in many ways but for one. Gen-Z are very tech savvy as they’ve grown up in a world powered by the internet and live with constant connectivity. Unlike millennials, Gen-Z members don’t know a time without internet and are used to instantly accessing vast amounts of information in snack-sized bites via their little handheld machines.


But why is this significant for retailers?


Gen-Z are finally reaching the ages where they can manage and spend their own money. They have an estimated $143 billion in buying power in their hands and are said to influence nearly $44 billion in discretionary spending worldwide. Gen-Z will soon form the largest generation of consumers so retailers should be working to cater to their needs.


What Do Gen-Z Want and How do They Shop?


When They Walk Into Shops, They Know What They Want


Before the internet really took off, people walked into shops with little to no knowledge about the products on display or the services offered, beyond a well-dressed window. They relied on salespeople to provide advice and help them to make a purchase.


In contrast, today’s shoppers are incredibly well informed. They’re surrounded by social media that’s suggesting products to them and shaping their purchase decisions. They carry smartphones which allow them to instantly access information, such as product reviews and price comparisons, wherever they are.


This is even more so the case with Gen-Z shoppers. According to a study by the National Retail Federation and IBM, 98 percent of Gen-Z shoppers walk into shops and find what they’re looking for by themselves.


How Can Retailers Use This Knowledge Improve the In-Store Shopping Experience?


This shift in power presents a great opportunity for retailers. Analytics gathered by in-store WiFi, for example, can give you data on shopper behaviour. This can be anything from the way they move around the retail space (via heat maps) to the busiest footfall times.


“Most of us prefer to sit at home and add to our virtual shopping baskets rather than visit a brick and mortar shop. Despite this, we still like to physically interact with products before we buy them. Retail WiFi can help bridge that gap.”


This, combined with what you already know about your shoppers, can help you become more intuitive to the whims of your Gen-Z consumers and ensure that you’re there to guide them towards making a purchase.


They Crave Opinions


Opinions carry more weight than ever - especially for Gen-Z shoppers. With the rise of social media, they care about what other people think. A lot.


Gen-Z shoppers are sharing their opinion on products, whether it’s via a product review or a comment on Instagram “Flop Accounts.” They’re surfing YouTube to watch the latest shopping hauls by their favourite vloggers or posting product links to their Whatsapp group chats to get opinions from their friends.


How Can Retailers Use This Knowledge Improve the In-Store Shopping Experience?


Phone signal can often be quite poor in large retail spaces so in-store WiFi ensures that your shoppers can still remain connected while physically in the shopping centre. Because nearly half of Gen-Z shoppers (47 percent) like to use their smartphones while shopping in-store, access to WiFi also means they can do other tasks, such as researching products and accessing social media, while they physically shop.

This ensures that Gen-Z shoppers don’t leave your shopping centre or stores because they don’t have instant access to a constant stream of information.


They Want an Individual Shopping Experience


Gen-Z shoppers have a strong desire for unique shopping experiences - ones that are tailored to their own wants and needs. An IBM survey found that an individualised shopping experience was extremely important to this generation - for example, sending promotional offers based on a Gen-Z shopper’s individual needs and habits.


How Can Retailers Use This Knowledge to Improve the In-Store Shopping Experience?


It’s not just about having a personal shopper or advice from a sales assistant. It’s about making the shopping experience truly unique for the Gen-Z shopper. Retail WiFi can be particularly useful here because it can generate helpful analytical data based on the shoppers’ purchasing habits and preferences.


For example, when shoppers log into a retail centre’s WiFi, you can understand how often users visit, how long they spend in store, which areas they favour and more. This, combined with loyalty programmes integrated from existing businesses, can allow you to recommend promotions to the shoppers - based on their interests. These targeted ads can entice shoppers to make purchases and boost loyalty.


WiFi analytics can also provide real-time data to monitor footfall in the form of heat maps. This can allow you to tailor your retail centre’s layout to fit the shopper’s needs and thinking processes.


For example, if shoppers appear to enter at a particular entrance and congregate around a certain area, you could place vendors in those places - to entice shoppers to make a purchase. With visibility into the busiest or quietest footfall times, you can pass this data onto your centre’s managers who can then use it to draw up the staff rotas, ensuring that there’s always the right number of team members working to cater to shopper needs.


If shoppers are willing to fill in other information when signing up to WiFi, you could ask for their postcode or city to see how far they’ve travelled to shop at the centre. This is particularly useful because it means you can see exactly how far you need to reach with your outdoor and social marketing strategies, making guesswork a thing of the past.


They Want WiFi


A 2017 Gen-Z shopper report by Euclid found that more than half of Gen-Z shoppers (53 percent) want access to WiFi in stores - compared to 41 percent of millennials. Fast internet is also preferred as 60 percent of these shoppers become frustrated if apps or websites are slow to load. And of course, we already know how important it is for Gen-Z shoppers to be able to access the web while they shop in-store.


How Can Retailers Use This Knowledge to Improve the In-Store Shopping Experience?


Compared to the other desires, this one’s quite obvious. Retail centres can easily improve the shopping experience by providing WiFi. But it’s not just that. A fast, reliable connection is mightily preferred as Gen-Z shoppers can easily be discouraged to hang around if they lose access to their constant stream of information.


No or slow connectivity can lead to a variety of undesirable consequences. For example, shoppers won’t be able to conduct the usual activities on their smartphones and this is especially vital for Gen-Z shoppers as they’re often using their devices while they shop. And if they can’t do their product research, check social media or send instant messages, they can easily be driven to other locations where they know they can get better WiFi signal.


Poor WiFi can also hinder you from understanding your shoppers in more depth. For instance, you may struggle to get extensive data, such as their purchasing habits and real-time data on their activities, which could help you tailor your shops to match shopper preferences.


This can also hinder any advertising opportunities. If you don’t know what your shoppers like to do, where they like to meet and how they like to shop, it’s harder to present them with targeted ads that are more likely to turn into a conversion.


Retail WiFi Can Help Bridge the Gap Between In-Store and Online Shopping


Online shopping is becoming more and more popular. Most of us prefer to sit at home and add to our virtual shopping baskets rather than visit a brick and mortar shop. Despite this, we still like to physically interact with products before we buy them.


Retail WiFi can help bridge that gap. You can use WiFi analytics to direct customers to promotions for products that they’re likely to be interested in, driving them to a specific part of the store. And customers can take advantage of the fast, reliable connection to surf the web while they’re physically in a store.

These capabilities allow a customer to become more engaged with your brand and make it more likely that they’ll purchase something. Interest and engagement can be transferred smoothly from online to offline, or vice versa, making for a more seamless, pleasant in-store shopping experience overall.


Read More on What WiFi Can Do for Your Retail Space


While Gen-Z shoppers are currently at the forefront of recent developments in the retail sector, WiFi can help all of your customers. Download our Retail Case Study to find out more on what retail WiFi can bring to your business space.


London Designer Outlet Case Study CTA

Rebecca Duffin

Rebecca Duffin

Rebecca Duffin

Rebecca is a creative, design-led marketer who has worked for WiFi SPARK since 2012. She is the Head of Marketing and has an in-depth understanding of all elements of the business. She is responsible for lead generation, brand engagement and ensuring the company is the 'Go-To Provider' for more than just WiFi.