Generation Z consists of people born from the mid-90s to mid-2000s, meaning that over the last few years the generation has been leaving college and entering the workforce. They are the first generation to have grown up in a world of smartphones, internet and online shopping. As a result, they have greater expectations from ecommerce stores when it comes to communication, customer experience and business values.
They also grew up during an economic recession, and watched the previous generation graduate expensive colleges in record numbers, only to struggle to find stable employment. As a result, they have a more self-reliant, self-educating attitude, and relating to these values is critical for any business to earn the trust and respect of this entrepreneurial generation.
Appealing to Generation Z and earning their loyalty requires focusing on these 5 key points:
Ready to earn the loyalty of Generation Z shoppers? From instant communication to business values, here are top ways you can level up your ecommerce business and better meet their expectations.
1. Smooth user experience
A convenient and positive customer experience is a critical factor for Generation Z when it comes to deciding where to shop. 75% say that convenience is the biggest deciding factor for buying online. The youngest generation may have higher expectations for the convenience and accessibility of your store, but they are also more likely to remember and return to an ecommerce store after a positive experience.
At the most basic level, this means ensuring your website and app load and respond rapidly, and that it is easy and painless to navigate your store and browse products. Mobile-first design is also a must for gaining the loyalty of generation Z shoppers. Mobiles are the primary device many use to browse and shop online; more than half say it is their most important internet device.
2. Easy sign-up and payment
For generation Z, internet technology and shopping has offered instant gratification their entire lives, so expect less patience and speed up the purchasing process accordingly. Reducing the number of actions between a customer and their purchase is a vital component to providing a smoother user experience, especially on mobile.
Offer auto-complete forms during account creation and the entry of billing information, as well as allowing users to sign in using their existing social media accounts such as Facebook or Google. One-click payment options, mobile wallet support and Paypal integration are also important to ensuring your store is remembered as an easy place to shop. Supporting payments via SMS and instant messaging chatbots makes it even easier for shoppers to buy without leaving the apps they use daily.
A smooth user experience should also include your returns policy and process. Everybody appreciates the assurance of being able to return an item they aren’t happy with, and this is especially true for generation Z. Customers won’t want to return to a store that tries to argue and dispute every refund, they will simply shop somewhere they have not had this negative experience. A generous, no-fuss refund policy can easily pay for itself in customer loyalty and positive online reputation.
3. Better communication
Generation Z grew up with access to instant communication in the form of texting, instant messaging and social media. Building a relationship with generation Z customers therefore must involve using their preferred forms of communication. Engage with social media users to promote your brand and values, and make use of SMS and IM to offer more immediate customer service.
While Facebook has traditionally held the largest audience for most industries, for the youngest generation the social media platform you can’t afford to ignore is Snapchat. 90% of 13 to 24 year olds use Snapchat up to 20 times a day, so being present on this platform helps build recognition and credibility for your brand.
These channels are also particularly effective at marketing to generation Z shoppers. Generation Z is less hostile to advertising than previous generations, especially in the case of personalized ads that are relevant to each user. This makes them more willing to follow you on social media and opt-in to your marketing campaigns, provided you offer relevant, high-value deals.
4. Ethical business
Generation Z pay more attention to the business practices their purchase supports, and are more likely to shop elsewhere if they have concerns about your social and environmental impact, or the way you treat your employees. Customers are more aware of these issues than they are often given credit for, so this should be taken seriously. For example, this year almost one in five 16 to 24 year olds said their decision to avoid Amazon and shop elsewhere was influenced by brand ethics.
This scrutiny can extend to every business whose products you sell, and every company involved in your supply chain, so take care to avoid working with organizations with a reputation for environmentally-unfriendly practices or poor working conditions.
Generation Z wants to support businesses that support the community, both locally and online. Get involved with community and charity events and organizations, and use your marketing platform to promote great causes. Showing you care about more than just selling your products is popular with any generation.
5. Promote entrepreneurial values
Generation Z has less faith in traditional employment than previous generations, instead aspiring to be self-employed, start businesses and create their own means of income. As a result, many aspire to and seek out content offering an entrepreneurial perspective. Appeal to this mindset with articles, videos and social media posts focusing on self-empowerment and improvement.
Generation Z shoppers are also self-educating, with an appreciation for the opportunities to learn new skills the internet offers. Discussing how your business and industry operates, and the reasons behind your methods, will draw the attention of those looking to start their own business one day. Content aimed at small businesses and startups can be particularly appealing, as due to their age, most will still be in the very early stages of their business.
Generation Z have high expectations when it comes to the customer experience you can provide, so speed and convenience should be a priority for all aspects of your online store. It’s not just about convenience though, with the youngest generation preferring to shop at stores that share and support their values. Adopting environmentally and socially responsible practices, and aligning your business with their entrepreneurial mindset is one of the most effective ways to earn the loyalty of generation Z shoppers.
Every brand wants to be price-competitive, offer customers the best service, and provide a memorable brand experience — all while being profitable. How do you do it? We hosted a virtual panel discussion and asked industry-leading ecommerce experts and DTC brands who know this first-hand. Watch our “Future-Proofing Your DTC Brand” below to find out.