The following is a guest post from Oded Edelman, president of JamesAllen.com and chief digital innovation advisor of Signet.
The following is a guest post from Oded Edelman, president of JamesAllen.com and chief digital innovation advisor at Signet Jewelers.
The former 'it' generation is getting older. Millennials' purchasing power is on the verge of being surpassed by the next generation of consumer: Generation Z. Forward-thinking retailers are starting to heed the digital preferences and consumer expectations of this burgeoning market.
Unlike millennials who grew up with technology as more of a convenience than a necessity, Gen Z sees it as an integral part of their daily lives. In fact, they cannot remember a time before the Internet. They anticipate a shopping experience that leverages technology in new and innovative ways, yet still provides the reassurance of being able to interact with a real, live human being. At JamesAllen.com, we’ve managed to achieve this in a few key ways; our proprietary Diamond Display Technology allows customers to view actual diamonds magnified up to 40 times in 360° HD; a virtual try-on feature on the mobile website shows users how a particular ring will look on their hand, eliminating much of the guesswork; and finally, if there’s any lingering doubt about making such a hefty purchase online, we provide a Real-Time Diamond Inspection service that helps build trust by connecting our customers to a non-commissioned certified gemologist who will walk them through the more technical aspects of their diamond.
In order to target a particular demographic, it’s essential to know what qualities it values most in a business. Gen Z favors honesty and authenticity, and they relate better to companies that make an effort to come across as human. We’ve always been proud of our record of giving and this year, we even enabled customers to partner with us through a new "Giving Tuesday" initiative that continues throughout December. We’ve pledged to donate $50 to Jewelers for Children for any purchase made on any Tuesday this month.
We also help our customers share their experiences in an authentic way through our Customer Engagement Moments, which highlight proposal stories from around the world. Seeing real people using a service inspires confidence in a company’s ability to deliver, similar to how a bustling café draws in more patrons than an empty one.
Gen Z shoppers are looking to be engaged by retailers and brands. They’re in it for the long haul, so you’d better be prepared to cultivate a long-term relationship with your customers.
Here are our top tips to help you bridge the gap between the physical and online worlds, and to turn those challenges into opportunities.
Grab their attention
Gen Z shoppers have notoriously short attention spans and click on fewer ads than millennials (59% versus 71%). To grab their attention, video ads must be concise and relevant to their target market. One way we did this was to partner with BuzzFeed to create the appropriately titled Couples Take the Engagement Ring Challenge (emphasis on 'engagement'). That video generated more than 3 million views on YouTube and Facebook within two weeks of its launch, and caused a 270% spike in website traffic to JamesAllen.com.
Get them involved
Businesses are advised to use the latest digital technologies to create interactive, engaging experiences. A recent survey found that 42% of Gen Z shoppers would participate in an online game that’s part of a campaign. This past summer, JamesAllen.com challenged customers to solve clues hidden around its website for a chance to win a designer engagement ring worth $10,000. The competition, titled Race to the Rock, was so effective at driving conversions that it spawned an equally successful sequel.
We also help our customers share their experiences through a personalized video feature that turns customers’ engagement photos – and a clip of their ring in 360° – into a unique stop-motion video that they can easily share with friends and family.
Make it personal
Gen Z shoppers want a personalized experience that starts with a quick and simplified search and discovery process. Product personalization is a major selling point these days, as Gen Zers are all about expressing their individuality through their purchases. JamesAllen.com is seeing this in the number of younger customers who are choosing to have their rings engraved. The shopping experience can be further refined by providing personalized customer support that demonstrates a genuine understanding of customers’ needs and wants.
Provide instant gratification
Create a customer experience that yields immediate benefits. This goes back to the first point about Gen Z shoppers having limited time and patience to spend assessing whether something’s worth their while. Have them complete a call to action such as signing up to a newsletter and then offer them an instant money-off coupon, as JamesAllen.com does for new subscribers. Or, if you’re a brick and mortar retailer, use GPS to serve targeted ads directly to your customer’s mobile device based on their location in the store.
Streamline the checkout.
Shopping is moving from physical stores to the online space, yet technology still has a place in the traditional shopping experience — be it in the search and discovery stage, customer support, or at point of sale. The latter will likely be a retailers' biggest expense, so think about upgrading the infrastructure now. Physical stores that allow customers to bypass the long lines and check out on their mobile devices will have a clear competitive advantage in the future.
Retailers are already starting to see a convergence of the digital and physical worlds and this looks set to continue with the rise of Gen Z. As this new generation outgrows its predecessor, its impact on retail shopping behavior will increase exponentially, reshaping the economy. Retailers need to understand what makes the Gen Z shopper tick — first attracting their attention, then engaging their interest, and finally, leveraging technology to streamline the whole shopping experience. The way to the Gen Z shopper’s heart and, more importantly, their wallet, is an in-store experience with online convenience.