Millennials and Generation Zers are widely regarded as embracing the digital life far more than their parents.
Surprisingly, a new survey found that these same tech-savvy and socially connected consumers are also likely to do more brick-and-mortar shopping this year than older generations. The reason? They crave retail environments that emphasize interactive customer experiences.
“We have seen decades of diminishing experiences in brick-and-mortar stores,” said Bob Phibbs, CEO at The Retail Doctor. “Retailers have fallen behind in offering in-store experiences that balance personalization and customer service — but there is an opportunity to take the reins back. It’s up to retailers to offer engaging and custom experiences that will cater to shoppers across a diverse group of generations.”
The survey — conducted by Wakefield Research, The Retail Doctor and Oracle NetSuite — found that a key component of feeling welcomed for most age groups was interaction with retail associates. In fact, 56% of millennials, 44% of Generation X and 43% of baby boomers supported increased in-store interactions. However, the youngest group surveyed disagreed, with 42% of Gen Z respondents reporting that they feel more annoyed by additional interactions.
Yet Gen Z shoppers still want to visit stores. Retailers aiming to retain this customer demographic without losing others might want to find a way to balance superior customer service with an approach that feels more authentic to younger shoppers. One way to do this, according to experts, is through technology that equips retail associates with the tools — and motivation — to best serve their customers, focusing on quality of interaction over quantity.
“The question is, Can we use technology to help engage with front-line employees to help them become ambassadors for brands online and also be a source of information and drivers of sales in-store?” said Stephen Gendron, co-founder and co-CEO at ENDVR, a rewards app for retail associates.
Providing product information for customers is still a retail employee responsibility, yet a survey by Tulip Retail found that 83% of consumers think they know more than the sales associate. To address this, clienteling software platforms such as Tulip and PredictSpring equip associates with all relevant product information in an easy tablet format. The platforms also provide mobile checkout and ways for associates to recommend additional, post-visit purchases to customers .
At ENDVR, the company incentivizes sales associates with compensation for achieving “missions” deployed through the app. These are set by the brands they sell or the retailer they are employed by. Missions range from answering surveys on product popularity and competing in sales contests to posting a product on social channels. The latter could be a way to connect with Gen Z customers, since 65% reported social media engagement as having an impact on their brand relationships. ENDVR will launch a product knowledge training feature in July.
“These employees want to contribute to the success of the store and the products they’re selling, but it’s often difficult to have a voice,” said Gendron. “This empowers them. It gives them an opportunity to weigh in and get rewarded for doing so. And what is cool about what we do is that every action in the tool is designed to drive sales through.”
Watch the video below to see top shoe players share more advice on succeeding in the industry:
How a Well-Equipped Sales Associate Can Boost In-Store Revenue
Why Amazon May Be Losing Loyalty Among Gen Z Shoppers
How Tulip’s New Partnership with Google Cloud Could Help Retailers Sell More on the Floor