Gen Z: The Old Rules of Retail Don’t Apply

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Move over Millennials, Gen Z is here. By 2020, today's 14- to 19-year olds will be the largest group of consumers worldwide. These kids are true digital natives, having never known a world without the Internet and grown up with a phone in their hands. Their attention spans may be short, but they shop with a sharp eye and they are going to redefine retail.

Shopping is an Experience

For Gen Z, shopping is social. Teens model their new Tommy Hilfiger jackets in a smart mirror, and Snapchat their new Longchamp bag. They're brand conscious but also socially conscious. They have the time and wherewithal to hunt for the best prices. They prefer to shop in stores, but the experience must be fun and easy. Gen Z like convenience, too. They want self-checkout from their phones or to order food ahead from a mobile app.

Their expectations are changing the nature of retail. Stores are becoming showrooms. Gen Z might be fans of a brand long before they make their first purchase. Apple was known for creating an in-store experience, and now Samsung is taking it to the next level. Teens might drop by the Samsung store on a Friday night, and bask in "The Wall," Samsung's new MicroLED TV with an amazing 146-inch picture, or mess around with Samsung Gear VR with their friends. Whether it's cool technology or Burberry scarf, fandom is aspirational for this generation.

The whole experience of the store is changing. At Bonobos, a "guide" (not an associate, of course) walks shoppers through their clothing choices, makes sure they get the right fit, and then they walk out empty-handed. The guide places the order, and the new clothes arrive at the person's home or office. Shopping is becoming frictionless.

Is Your In-Store Network Ready for Gen Z?

Many retailers already beefed up Wi-Fi to meet the expectations of Millennial shoppers and for smoother store operations, but Gen Z is a new ballgame. For Gen Z, technology is infused in the shopping experience, and the network must be up to the job.

Retailers need ultra-fast, highly scalable Wi-Fi that will support retail experiences like smart mirrors, shoppable windows and augmented reality. They need Bluetooth location beacons to execute on personalized marketing and wayfinding. Of course, guest Wi-Fi needs to be easy for the shoppers—and not create tech support issues for store associates.

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Retailers can engage shoppers in the store or via a mobile app. Shoppers can opt-in for personalized incentives and notifications. They can use the retailer's app to the products they're looking for, with a direct path to the department or location. Proximity-based notifications can be used for incentives and offers as shoppers walk through the store or a mall.

The network can reveal business insight as well. Presence analytics can reveal information about how people move through the store, which can be used to optimize the store layout.

Even with advanced capabilities, retailers need a network that's easy to set up and manage across stores—and with strong security.

Go Deeper

Learn more about Aruba's solutions for retail.