Get Ready for Gen Z – The Future of Retail

Call them what you want—Gen Z, iGen or the “mall generation,” younger shopper born between the mid-1990s and the early 2010s will be the moving force in shaping the retail landscape in just a few years. Although Millennials typically dominate conversations about buying preferences, it’s wise to look down the road to prepare for the next significant disruption in how we purchase products, consume media, and engage in social interactions. While it would be easy to assume that the habits of Gen Z closely mirror those of Millennials, that isn’t always the case.


The influence of Gen Z is too powerful to ignore—by 2020, they will be the largest generation of consumers, with an estimated $143 billion in direct spending. At this point, the older segment of Gen Z is leaving home or entering college, while the younger portion is still home with their Millennials parents influencing a broad range of purchases.  

Historically, every generation brings new ideas and innovations that disrupt the status quo set by the previous generation—the same will be valid for Gen Z. Many observers predict the rate of change will happen faster and be more intense because instant gratification has now become a cultural norm.  

Survey Reveals 73% of Gen Z Also Shop in-store
Fluent Commerce, the cloud-native order management company, recently released the research results from a survey the company conducted with 5,000 consumers between the ages of 14 and 24. The vast majority of younger shoppers (73 percent) prefer shopping in-store, rather than shopping exclusively online. Twenty-five percent of respondents like both options. Here are a few findings related to deliveries and online purchases:

  • 47 percent of Gen Z shoppers are willing to wait up to seven days for their purchases to arrive
  • Shoppers are open to traveling to collect their packages (52 percent will go 30 minutes, and
    22 percent will travel up to an hour)
  • 66 percent expect retailers to provide same day service
  • 39 percent of shoppers say late packages are their biggest frustration in the shipping experience
  • 89 percent said free shipping was a significant factor in their purchasing decision

In commenting on the survey, Graham Jackson, Fluent Commerce CEO, says “This research shows that next generation shoppers don’t necessarily want their online orders immediately, but that convenience is still an important factor when deciding which retailers to shop with. Most consumers aged between 14 and 24 expect same day pickup and are willing to travel for this convenience.”

Optimizing the Customer Experience
The “mall generation” absorbs information that is readily available at their fingertips, and takes pleasure in the overall in-store shopping experience. They conduct independent research and collect information before making a final purchasing decision. Younger shoppers look forward to interacting with products in-store to converse with other shoppers, try-out the product, and review similar merchandise. The ability to see, touch, and demo merchandise is often a deciding factor when selecting products.

Gen Z shoppers may be more patient than Millennials since same-day delivery is not a “must-have” when making online purchases. However, shoppers continue to expect exemplary service related to receiving the correct tracking information and the on-time arrival of their packages. These young shoppers are native consumers of technology and become highly frustrated when things don’t work out according to plan.

Appealing to Generation Z
According to recent research, retailers who want to attract Generation Z shoppers should offer a seamless customer experience that quickly fulfills their need for products. The expectation is that brick-and-mortar stores will have products ordered online available for same-day pickup. Additionally, being out of stock on products is frowned upon and fails to meet shopper’s high expectations. Gen Z shoppers want the best of both worlds and want retailers to use technology to deliver it to them.

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