How In-Store Retail Associates Are Meeting Expectations Among Gen-Z Consumers

brought to you by WBR Insights

Despite the ubiquity of digital retail, in-store associates continue to provide exceptional customer experiences and maintain the integrity of retail brands. Now, an unexpected and growing demographic of younger shoppers are choosing physical stores over online shopping, positioning in-store teams on the frontline meeting a new generation of consumer demands.

As consumer demographics evolve, 75% of in-store retailers are prioritizing meeting the needs of Gen-Z shoppers, roughly ages 15 to 25 as of 2018. But retailers are struggling to adapt in-store training and execution in a way that makes sense for both associates and consumers. Nonetheless, Gen-Z, a population of 44 million, is shaping the future of in-store retail experiences.

WBR Insights partnered with Future Stores to conduct an in-depth study of retailers' in-store adaptations to this new generation of consumers. Here we've pulled a sample of the most notable data from the study for key insights into the topic.

Researchers found that a majority of retailers are either planning for or are already preparing in-store associates to adapt shopping and brand experiences and meet the expectations of Gen-Z customers. However, nearly one-quarter of retailers are not doing these things.

Only 2% of retailers feel they do not need to change what their associates do for a younger demographic. Meanwhile, 22% acknowledge they need to adapt, but they haven't begun preparing their associates. (2 related data points have been omitted from this chart.)

In several cases, retailers' experiences with Gen-Z brand expectations and behaviors are already causing issues for associates. This new generations' preferences for in-store engagement and in-store technology, such as mobility and associate connectivity, conflict with associates' access to resources and capabilities.

Among almost half of retailers (46%), in-store managers or associates have expressed concerns about Gen-Z customer expectations in terms of the speed at which staff deliver solutions.

Similarly, 40% of retailers report Gen-Z customers expect a degree of knowledge in-store associates cannot deliver; and 37% of retailers have difficulty adjusting to younger customers' in-store technology expectations. (4 related data points have been omitted from this chart.)

These expectations are indicative of Gen-Z consumers' conditioning from digital retail, whereby they may feel a true loss in terms of connectivity and accessibility--to products, resources, and information--in physical stores. Fortunately, most retailers are activating the training programs and resources they need so that in-store associates can address this unique demographic.

Already, a majority of retailers (54%) are addressing generational differences in their training and development programs. Another 37% of retailers are providing in-store technologies that help their associates engage younger shoppers. (Retailers are taking additional measures to facilitate better in-store experiences for this generation--5 related data points have been omitted from this chart.)

In our upcoming report, Engaging the Gen-Z Consumer with Transformations in Retail Workforce Management, you'll discover more about how retailers are preparing their workforce, including on-demand training to meet the evolving needs of associates, more digestible and relevant training modules, virtual training programs, more inclusive brand cultures, and more.

The report is scheduled to be published on the Future Stores Miami website on January 8th, 2019.

Interested in research sponsorship? WBR Insights will create your customized activation and boost your sales pipeline. Contact us at 646-200-7546 or email us here to learn more.

Return to Blog