How to Woo Gen Z Shoppers to Shop In-Store

Learn how to blend digital and real-world experiences for success in the new age of retail.

Gen Z shopper

The ebb and flow of generational purchasing power provide businesses with challenges and opportunities in equal measure as time marches on. While the Baby Boomers and Millennials had their moments in the economic sun (even the much-overlooked Gen Xers!), today’s spotlight is squarely on the rise of Gen Z.

Born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Z is redefining the very nature of retail consumption. With an astounding global purchasing power that reaches over $360 billion as of 2022, overlooking this segment can be a costly oversight. This year, “adult” Gen Zers, those between 18-26 years old, will make up 58% of this generation. And with age comes more expendable money.

But here lies the challenge: How do brick-and-mortar stores capture the attention of a generation so digitally inclined? The answer might be simpler than anticipated – by blending their digital and real-world experiences. Here are three key strategies to do just that.

1. The Social Media Experience: Beyond the Digital Screen

For Gen Z, the digital world isn't just an extension of reality; it is their reality. Physical stores can leverage this by offering in-store experiences reminiscent of their online interactions.

Social Media Tie-Ins Via Digital Displays: Beyond the customary digital advertising boards we all see in stores today, brands should think about incorporating more than just standard ads, but social media tie-ins. Almost 50% of Gen Z consumers surveyed in a recent report by MG2 and the Lion’esque Group said seeing recognizable social media videos on the displays would improve their shopping experience.

This could mean videos with Influencers who are already brand ambassadors of your products, or running social media ads that they may have already seen on their personal feeds. Speaking of which…

Events with Influencers: The rise of Influencer culture is symbiotically tied with Gen Z. Hosting exclusive in-store events with well-known digital personalities can create a buzz and drive footfall. These events could range from product launches to masterclasses. The idea is to capitalize on the followership these influencers bring with them.

Creating “Instagrammable” Corners: What makes something Instagram-worthy? Vibrancy, uniqueness, and a touch of quirkiness. By setting up specific spots within the store meant for customers to click and share pictures, retailers provide an indirect yet powerful means of organic marketing. This not only increases the store’s visibility online but also gives the Gen Z crowd a reason to visit.

What appears to be a store with bright pink and green walls and floors with green and pink stripes.

After all, there’s a reason the Museum of Selfies (and other similar exhibitions) are so popular.

2. Reflecting the Online Browsing Mode In-Store

Digital shopping has its quirks, and one of them is the leisure to browse endlessly, using the latest technology, from the comfort of your couch. So, how can physical stores replicate the experience of shopping online when Gen Z comes into your brick & mortar store?

Futuristic Fitting Rooms: Amazon's brick-and-mortar stores set a precedent here. Changing rooms aren't just about a mirror and some privacy anymore. They're about creating an environment that makes shoppers feel like they’re basically inside of their endless-scrolling phones. Their fitting rooms literally let you summon clothes to you.

Adjustable mood lighting, digital panels to fetch different sizes, colors, or designs, or even augmented reality setups for virtual trials can completely redefine the in-store shopping experience.

The Bracketing Approach: Gen Z is known for its “try and test” approach online – ordering multiple versions of a product and then returning what doesn't fit the bill. Retailers can integrate this into their in-store policies. By allowing shoppers to buy multiple variations and then effortlessly return what they don’t need, businesses can make the shopping experience more fluid and customer-friendly.

Purchase In-Store, Deliver at Doorstep: This hybrid shopping model is the epitome of convenience. While Gen Z shoppers get the tactile experience of in-store shopping, they can skip the part where they lug around bags, as their purchases get delivered straight to their homes.

Or better yet, allow them to scan a tag with their phones and order the item right then and there for home delivery. This way, it’s just like ordering from your couch, but with the fun of meeting up with friends. Said the Founder and CEO of Dealspotr, Michael Quoc:

“Retailers that offer a great mobile app experience that integrates with in-store service can convert younger shoppers. Most retailers don’t do a great job at integrating the mobile and in-store experiences, so this is an opportunity for forward-thinking retailers to differentiate.” - source

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3. In-Store Clienteling: The Ultimate Differentiator

Above all, Gen Z values experiences that are personal and meaningful. Retailers can tap into this sentiment by ensuring every in-store visit is unique and tailored to the individual. By leveraging clienteling best practices, your brand can deliver a memorable shopping experience that begs to be repeated.

Tech-Savvy Customer Service Agents: Today’s in-store assistants need to be more than just informed. They need to be tech-savvy, trend-aware, and adept at using in-store technology. The ideal agent should be able to toggle between the roles of a stylist, a tech guide, and a personal shopper. To do so, arming your reps with a mobile CRM can help them deliver that personalized experience by providing a customer’s purchase history at their fingertips.

Self-Help Kiosks and Tablets: While personal assistance is valuable, the option of self-help should always be available. Many Gen Z shoppers want multiple ways of interacting with a brand while in-store, and standalone tablets can empower them to shop the way they want to. Equipped with product details, customer reviews, and the ability to place online orders, these devices ensure that the Gen Z shopper never feels restricted in their choices.

Customized Email Campaigns: 84.3% of Gen Z said they were encouraged to shop in-store due to receiving personalized recommendations based on their purchase history. In other words, customer data is power. By utilizing their shopping history and online browsing patterns, retailers can craft tailored email campaigns. Whether it’s exclusive in-store promotions, events, or product recommendations, these emails can be a gentle nudge, reminding them of the physical store's appeal.

Enticing the Gen Z shopper into a physical store is an art that requires a blend of digital and tactile experiences. It's not about flashy discounts or one-size-fits-all campaigns. Instead, it’s about understanding their digital-first mindset and recreating that within the four walls of a store. Retailers who can master this delicate balance will find themselves not just surviving but thriving in the new age of retail.