By Josh Miller
All brick-and-mortar stores are about to go out of business!
If you aren’t a billion-dollar tech company you won’t be around in 5 years!
You all better go back to school and learn geology!
LOL. If only.
It seems as though brick-and-mortar staples have been dropping like flies since the start of the decade – Sports Authority, Toys “R” Us, and Claire’s Accessories, to name a few. The failures of these presumed immortal brands have caused the media to create the illusion of the ‘retail apocalypse,’ often blaming young consumers for the closures.
Accenture found that 77% of Gen Z prefers brick-and-mortar shopping. We crave face-to-face interaction, and that desire translates to a retail preference of face-to-product interaction.
The concept of a successful retail store is also changing. The point used to be for a firm to sell a product to the consumer. Now the point of a retail store is to build a relationship with the consumer, in hopes the consumer will enjoy the shopping process and buy additional products online.
Men’s apparel company Bonobos is a great example of a retail store’s changing purpose. Recently acquired by Walmart for $310 million, this apparel company’s 55 retail showrooms display products to potential customers who then ultimately buy online.
E-commerce giant Amazon also understands that brick-and-mortar is important. It is opening up retail stores in an attempt to build in-person customer relationships and maintain brand image.
Another important factor to Gen Z is an interactive retail experience. Nike’s NYC Soho location houses a basketball court on the sixth floor for customers to try out products. And hockey giants Pure Hockey and Bauer give the ultimate hockey experience in Bloomington, Minn., and Burlington, Mass., at their Own the Moment retail locations. Complete with synthetic ice shooting galleries and actual real ice arenas, shoppers get the true Bauer experience in action.
Being touted as Legoland for sports fanatics and Candyland for hockey lovers, these retailers are focusing on the full consumer experience. They are great case studies into how interactive retail experiences can reinvent and save brick-and-mortar stores.
The benefits of evolved retail stretch further than just consumerism. With workforce shortages plaguing many organizations, reimagining retail can help address some key workforce struggles. Today’s extremely tight job market is making even traditional teenage jobs difficult to fill.
What needs to be understood about teenage employees is that workforce recruitment and retention is directly correlated to how we view a brand as consumers. Gen Zs don’t want to work at a company deemed ‘uncool.’ That’s why Google, St. Jude, and Disney are the three most popular organizations for Gen Z to work for, according to Inc.
Take what you hear in the headlines with a grain of salt. Retail is not dead. Rather, bad retail experiences are being evolutionarily phased out. Gen Z is on the leading edge of this retail evolution, and brands must be adaptive with the times in order to engage Gen Z as customers and employees.
Want to learn more about Gen Z?
Check out these great resources!
- Teaching Gen Z: Everything we wish schools knew about our generation and education
- Ready or Not – Here Comes Z
- Gen Z: The first generation of the 21st Century has arrived!