Ecommerce 2024: The Emerging Trend Everyone’s Ignoring (But Shouldn’t)

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Summary

Gen Z's emergence into ecommerce requires brands to adapt and adjust to their needs as consumers. Gen Z consumers heavily engage with social media platforms which shapes their shopping preferences through trends and immersive digital experiences. Additionally, brands that prioritize social impact and sustainability align well with Gen Z values. Incorporating AI technologies such as AR/VR shopping and machine learning-driven customer service is crucial for meeting the expectations of Gen Z consumers.

As ecommerce continues to evolve and adjust to new consumer needs and preferences, understanding Gen Z, those born between 1997 and 2012, is paramount for sustainable growth. Focusing solely on trends rather than the consumer base that influences them is easy. However, by understanding Gen Z’s unique behaviors and preferences, ecommerce professionals can find new opportunities for growth and connection with Gen Z consumers. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Gen Z consumers prioritize social media platforms, such as Instagram, TikTok and Youtube and develop their shopping preferences through social media trends and engaging digital experiences. 
  • Brands committed to social impact and sustainability resonate deeply with Gen Z, who prioritize values alignment when making purchasing decisions.
  • Embracing AI technologies such as AR/VR shopping experiences and machine learning-powered customer service is essential to meeting Gen Z consumers’ expectations.

 

Let’s dive into three impactful ways to help form a deeper connection with Gen Z.

 

1. Engage Gen Z through Digital Channels 

It’s no secret that Gen Z is a social media-savvy generation. Here are some specific ways to connect with Gen Z through social media:

  • Social marketplaces, like Instagram shopping and TikTok Shop, allow for in-app, direct purchases and are increasingly popular. According to a report from GWI, about 58% of TikTok users report using TikTok Shop. 
  • Live shopping, like Amazon Live and TikTok live shopping. These channels allow for live engagement with Gen Z consumers and offer an innovative, unique customer experience.
  • According to Wyzowl, 73% of Gen Zers use social media for short, engaging videos that can easily hold and capture attention. Because of this, short format videos, such as those used through Instagram Reels and TikTok, are particularly engaging. These platforms can be used for advertising and open channels for influencer partnerships, which satisfy Gen Z’s interest in user-generated content (UGC). 

 

A screenshot of a TikTok made by Coach with an employee who is also an influencer.

Coach leverages short-format videos like Instagram Reels to connect with its audience. This video showcases a new bag and uses UGC from a popular influencer to share the product with the audience.

 

Additionally, Gen Z are experts when it comes to engaging digital experiences:

  • According to Hubspot, 80% of Gen Z use mobile search to discover and purchase products. To appeal to Gen Z, prioritize the mobile experience followed by desktop optimization.
  • Convenience is also an important factor to consider. Implement features like image and voice search to help enhance user experience.
  • Although Gen Z is a regular online shopper, the in-store experience has not disappeared from their routine. Explore the merging of online and in-store experiences to create seamless omnichannel interactions. 
  • Product videos are also useful. Use them to answer common questions and provide additional value for your products.
  • Embrace hyper-personalization to tailor the shopping experience to individual preferences by offering product recommendations, different options for purchasing, sales and offers and much more.

 

Screenshots from Aerie's website shows a personalized customer experience.

This product page on Aerie is a successful example of an advanced customer experience. The listing offers information on delivery and return options, engages the shopper on social media and shares other recommended products personalized to the consumer.

 

2. Appeal to Gen Z’s Values: Social Impact and Sustainability

According to a 2023 global survey, 60% of Gen Z agree that they tend to buy from brands that reflect their personal values. And based on the 2023 Net Positive Employee Barometer, around 44% of Gen Z’s are concerned about climate change and environmental issues. Because of this, it is vital that your brand shares its values, especially in terms of social impact and sustainability. 

Here are some tips to help showcase your brand values:

  • Embrace sustainability as a core value
  • Highlight Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives to showcase your brand’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR
  • Share other CSR initiatives, such as community involvement, company ethics and philanthropy
  • Prioritize diversity and inclusion efforts

 

However, it is important to be honest with where you are as a brand on these initiatives. If you are still working towards these initiatives, be transparent and share your progress. Gen Z can easily spot greenwashing or rainbow washing: two forms of performative CSR. Consumers value transparency rather than lying to solely appeal to them. 

A screenshot of Patagonia's website that states their brand values.

Patagonia is a brand especially well-known for its values. It showcases its initiatives in sustainability, social justice, and innovation. Additionally, it is transparent and honest about its actions.

 

3. Embrace Advanced Technologies to Meet Gen Z Expectations

AI technologies are becoming more popular every day. Though some shy away from the new technology, younger people are largely not afraid of it. Therefore, it’s important to research and implement AI technologies that align with your brand.

Some examples of AI technology in ecommerce include:

  • AR/VR shopping experiences to provide immersive and interactive product experiences
  • Machine learning and AI-powered customer service to enhance support and streamline shopping processes
  • AI-powered algorithms to enhance the customer journey and provide customers with suggested products

 

A screenshot of Alo's website showing suggested products and an AI chatbot.

Alo’s site offers customers suggested products alongside an AI-powered chatbot to help answer any questions.

 

Ready to dive deeper into the world of ecommerce trends and strategies? Join us at the 2024 CommerceNext Growth Show this June 11-13, where industry experts and leaders will explore the latest insights and innovations shaping the digital commerce landscape. Attend our Z Suite Panels to hear directly from Gen Zers on their buying decisions and brand preferences. Register now to learn from this influential customer demographic!

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