Every new eCommerce report seems required to offer their own forecast on the pending death of brick and mortar stores. So I was surprised by the recent Accenture 2017 Consumer Survey (short registration required) about Generation Z buying behavior. Accenture found that these shoppers actually likes purchasing in stores. In fact, Gen Z shoppers seem to value many of the aspects of store shopping that Millenials cast aside. They like shopping with friends, seeking opinions, and comparing products. Believe it or not, they value the store experience.
So as eCommerce professionals, what should we take away from this report? It’s fairly obvious. The mobile web experience is now more important than ever.
Mobile unlocks the store experience
Gen Z’s willingness to shop in stores elevates the need for a strong mobile experience. Here’s why:
- Gen Z will still be attached to their phone in your store – Don’t delude yourself. Even if they walk into your store surrounded by friends and family, greeted with a glass of champagne, and helped by Tom Brady moonlighting as a store associate, they will eventually turn to their phones. They use phones to compare store prices with online offers. They read reviews. They ask for opinions on social media. In other words, they use your mobile Website to gather the information they need to make a decision.
- Today’s store is a one-sided data relationship – Gen Z store visits are great for product sales, but not much else. The point-of-sale system will record that customer’s purchase, but provides no visibility into the products evaluated, questions asked, or opinions sought. So although the customer learned all about your products, you learned nothing about that customer’s buying behavior.
- Mobile website creates a two-sided relationship – In contrast to the limited data gained in stores, mobile websites provide the opportunity to track every step of their decision making process. What products did they look at? Did they read reviews? Did they checkout? If not, where and why did they leave? All of this behavior can be tracked and turned into actionable data when shoppers interact with your mobile Website during their store visit.
Third party apps: Creating the killer mobile experience
So what do you do with this information? The bottom line is that both store and web shoppers are going to visit your mobile site. And in order to keep them engaged and capitalize on this traffic, you need to leverage 3rd party apps (reviews, social networking, etc.) that support Gen Z decision making. In return you’ll sell more and gather customer behavior data that will reap rewards well past that one visit.
In fact, our customers see such positive returns from 3rd party apps and services that we outlined our favorites in a recent blog post, “Don’t Hold Back: The Case for 3rd Party eCommerce Applications.” Performance and speed shouldn’t be a concern any more, thanks to next-generation website acceleration technologies like Yottaa. Keep your focus on the customer. Build the experience they want, and they will deliver the sales you want.