Three tips to make your physical store more attractive to Generation Z


In many ways it’s counterintuitive to tell retailers they have to spend more time on their physical stores. Aren’t more people shopping online than ever before? But as much as online sales have grown, it still only represents about 15 percent of all retail sales.

Today, we’re finding that people don’t always want the quickest, cheapest and easiest path to buying a product. The Australian Consumer, Retail and Services (ACRS) Research Unit found that 48 percent of online shopping advocates still want to shop in-store.

This will grow as Generation Z — now between 8 and 23 years old – continues to influence the market. A study by Ernst & Young found that 93 percent of GenZ parents say their children have real influence over the family’s houseland spending.

Remember that technology is intuitive to this younger group. They are looking for something different. So, for example, if they want nail polish, they want to go to a nail salon in a department store and have their nails done and get the full experience. They are also guiding parents and grandparents to stores that cater to their wants and needs.

Here are three tips for retailers looking to make their physical stores more attractive to GenZ shoppers and their families:

  • Offer a fun experience. Harry Hartog booksellers in Australia has become one of the best examples of a store that offers consumers much more than just racks of books. Throughout the store, displays are decorated with the characters from the children’s books they are promoting. There are reading areas with comfortable furniture where young children can interact with one another and the storybook characters. As a parent, I feel very comfortable bringing my kids to the store and often walk out having purchased two or more bags of books. The same holds true for Bunnings Warehouse, a household hardware chain that has a coffee shop, a play area for young children with face painting, and home improvement classes for both men and women. They try to find a reason for everyone in the family to visit the store.
  • Integrate the online and physical worlds. Retailers must still expand their online businesses because that part of the market will only continue to grow. But they have to think more creatively about using the online platform. One great example is bookstores that have computers so older children can look up books online while their younger siblings are off in the play areas. Harry Hartog still doesn’t have an online presence, so they have a bit of work to do integrating the online and physical world. However, keep in mind that a growing percentage of people actually shop online before coming into the physical store to make a purchase. Car dealers have done a good job with this, as many will honor the Internet price for a new car when a buyer comes into the showroom.
  • Become part of the community. Bunnings teams with local sports clubs and community groups to run “Sausage Sizzles” at their stores. When combined with all their other attractions, the barbeque events create an environment where families are happy to go to a hardware store and spend the better part of their day there.

Think back to all the great retail experiences of the past. Years ago, our parents and grandparents would shop at Macy’s or Harrods not simply to buy an item or two, but to spend the morning there, have lunch and shop all afternoon. Retailers need to get back to having their stores be a destination as opposed to a place where consumers merely pick up a product. With the arrival of Generation Z as a market force, the demographics are changing. Retailers that can best blend the physical and online experience in-store while also expanding their online businesses will continue to have great success in the years ahead.

Tania Jollie headshotTania Jollie is the Director for Consumer and Retail, and Transport, for DXC Technology in Australia and New Zealand, focused on leading transformation and innovation projects in the retail, consumer packaged goods (CPG) and transport industries. Having worked with large retailers and international consumer product groups for many years, she has gained deep insights into these businesses and industries, which she uses to create strategies that help clients preserve and improve their market position and remain competitive in this period of rapid growth and change.

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