How to Master the Omnichannel Experience for Gen Z

Director of Product Marketing

It’s no secret that Generation Z consumers (aged approximately 13-21) are highly connected and digitally immersed. In response, marketers have been quick to focus all their energy on trends like video and branded filters in an attempt to cater to these digital natives through Instagram, Snapchat and other mobile apps.

But the truth is Gen Z isn’t loyal to any one channel. In fact, a recent IBM study found that 67% of Gen Z shoppers actually prefer shopping at brick-and-mortar locations most of the time — and 31% still shop in-store “some of the time.” And they’re much more wary of being advertised to, so attempts to woo them over just by targeting their favorite apps isn’t as easy as it sounds.

What they do expect are relevant and engaging high-quality experiences regardless of channel or touchpoint. And brands are having trouble keeping up: the same IBM report revealed that Gen Z is turned off by poor content quality and a lack of seamless digital experiences between devices. This means omnichannel campaign management is more important than ever for brands looking to stay relevant and engaged.

So what can brands do to make sure their omnichannel is up to Gen Z standards?

Create a campaign that speaks to them

Gen Z shoppers have more options than ever, and they know how to get what they want when they want it — whether in-store, on the website or through their mobile device. With that in mind, it’s critical for brands to develop targeted omnichannel campaigns that meet the expectations of a younger, more digitally immersed cohort.
What worked for earlier generations doesn’t always work for Gen Z, though. Younger shoppers are much less brand loyal than their parents, with one study reporting that 81% are willing to switch from their favorite brand if they find products of similar or better quality when comparison shopping. Less captivated by labels and brand names than previous generations, Gen Z prioritizes quality — so any effective omnichannel campaign strategy must begin with a high-quality experience in mind.

Additionally, Gen Z prioritizes ease and flexibility when choosing brands. Eight out of 10 prioritize free shipping and delivery, and they want options like free returns. These features engage better than the typical marketing speak Gen Z shoppers have come to ignore.

Prioritize consistent and seamless omnichannel interactions
Gen Zers spend a lot of time on social media, checking in multiple times a day, often on several different devices. Marketers are right then to devote their efforts to social campaigns on platforms like Snapchat and Instagram. But without consistency and the correct information, their campaigns are often ineffective. In fact, according to Episerver’s Reimagining Commerce report, 98% of shoppers have been dissuaded from making a purchase because of incorrect, incomplete or otherwise inconsistent content. Since Gen Z shoppers jump between in-store, mobile and social channels, marketers need a united front with consistent messaging and product information.

Shoppers should be able to seamlessly move from one channel to the next. This means a promotion on Snapchat should easily transition to a quick purchase on the website with a swipe or a click, and an Instagram user should be able to quickly buy the exact products featured in a specific post. This translates to in-store strategies as well — shoppers using their phones to buy products should be able to easily access inventory information and choose “click and collect” options to buy online and pick up in-store at their convenience.

Personalize, personalize, personalize

More than any other generation, Gen Z shoppers value personalization. Broad strokes won’t cut it — younger shoppers need intimate experiences with brands that know exactly who they are and what they like. That means that every tactic within an omnichannel campaign needs to be tailored to each individual, down to the promotions offered, products highlighted and even the channels used.

For example, a shopper who likes to browse for clothes on her phone but always purchases on a desktop should be targeted differently on each platform. The mobile app or mobile website might feature an influencer’s style guide, while the browser-based website highlights a free returns policy. The same shopper should receive coordinated cross-channel communication based on her behavior, like abandoned cart emails for items she’s left in her cart, remarketing ads for items she’s looked at more than once and mobile push notifications alerting her of sales or special discounts on favorited items.

This level of personalization requires advanced machine learning algorithms that enhance the user experience by tracking shopper journeys across platforms and accurately predicting shopper behaviors. Without AI technology, brands can’t keep up with Gen Z shoppers’ expectations — expectations that will only grow as competitors find their footing and invest more in the their own omnichannel strategies.

Joey Moore is the Director of Product Marketing at Episerver.

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