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How Generation Z friendly is your eCommerce website? [Quiz + actionable tips]

“Gen Z”, “Young People” or “The Next Generation” – whatever your eCommerce business calls them, it’s likely that attracting younger consumers (and their newly disposable income) is high on your agenda.

If you’ve ever questioned who Gen Z are, how to attract them to your eCommerce brand, or how to retain them; you’ll find all the answers – as well as our best-practice advice – right here in this post!

Short on time? Take our 10-minute quiz to find out how Gen Z-friendly your eCommerce website is, and how you can improve >>

How Generation Z friendly is your eCommerce website?

Who are Gen Z? 

Generation Z are classed as being born between 1997 and 2012 – currently between 9 and 24. While most Millennials (the previous generation) remember the days before smartphones, social media, eCommerce and the internet, Gen Z have grown up with this always-on mentality, and are seen as true digital natives.

They’re said to use social media for entertainment and community-building, using mostly Instagram, YouTube and Tiktok.

One important thing to note is that this is a pretty large cohort – from kids who don’t have smartphones yet to adults buying furniture and starting families! However, we do think adopting a lot of the strategies to target Generation Z is important for eCommerce brands; especially those who want to ensure they are staying relevant and continuously attracting their next generation of customers.

Why are they important?

70% of parents consult their Gen Z children when deciding what to buy

As you might expect, Generation Z have some serious spending power, inside and outside of eCommerce – making up a third of the world’s population and controlling an estimated $143bn of spending power annually – which would make them a no-brainer cohort to target. But they actually have influence far beyond their own individual spending power.

Indeed, a US-based DWW survey found that 70 per cent of parents consult their Gen Z children in deciding what to buy – from electronic goods, clothes, and eating out, to travel, furniture and household goods. So even if you think your products aren’t necessarily relevant to Gen Z, it’s important to factor them into your strategy, because they could easily be recommending them (or dissuading the purchasing of them) to family and friends.

Studies show Generation Z have significant influence on family spend, inside and outside of eCommerce

Image source

“Gen Z have an annual estimated global spend power of $200bn, and an indirect parental spend power of $3 trillion. By the end of 2020, Gen Z were forecast to be the largest group of consumers globally, but with an 8 second attention span, compared to 12 seconds of a Millennial, brands must not only capture their attention, but fight to keep it too.” – Josh Rathour, CEO UNiDAYS

What do Gen Z shoppers want from eCommerce?

Now you know why you should be targeting them as part of your eCommerce strategy, it’s time to dig into what Gen Z want from your eCommerce store – so here are the top 8 things this always-on generation expects when they land on your site…

Take our quiz to find out how your site ranks for Gen Z’s expectations >>

1. Speed

60% of surveyed Gen Zers will not use an app or website that is too slow to load. They are a generation of impulse purchasers, with almost 60 per cent admitting they have made non-planned purchases ‘in the moment’ – and ultra-fast eCommerce sites help facilitate this.

Invest in your eCommerce site performance to satisfy the Gen Z expectation of instant gratification, and expect to see increasing conversion rates, AOV and more! As a bonus – site speed is a key factor with customers from all backgrounds, so improvement here will attract and retain more than Gen Z. For more guidance on improving site speed, check out our top 10 site performance upgrades to add to your hit list – from optimising images to upgrading to a PWA.

2. Mobile experience

When asked which devices they use most frequently, 75% of Gen Z said their smartphone – compared to just 45% for laptops, and 30% for desktop computers. 25% of respondents also said they spend more than five hours on their mobile phones every day, so failing to invest in your mobile experience could really hurt your store’s appeal.

We always advise starting with a mobile-first approach to design – everything from product page structure to interacting with images can be affected by the constraints of mobile design. But it’s not all bad news – mobile also offers opportunities to cleverly use native features to actually make the experience more enjoyable. Real time validation, express checkouts, closing touchpoints, scanning card details – when implemented correctly, shopping on mobile sites can be an absolute joy, not just a necessity.

Interestingly, this audience also appears to be highly engaged with apps. Along with finance apps, eCommerce apps have experienced the strongest growth YoY with Generation Z, with a 60% increase versus Q3 2019. While Gen Z is less likely than average to use the top 20 shopping apps, they are much more engaged with those they do use – with 20% more sessions per users in top apps than older audiences. While developing a standalone app is often only worth the investment for the very biggest of brands, switching your site to a PWA could capitalise on this demand – using headless architecture to future-proof your site, while enabling users create an access point directly from their mobile device’s home screen.

3. Authentically ‘giving back’

Like Millennials, Gen Z’s closely identify with brands seen to be supporting causes they care about – three quarters say that they actively seek out brands that support the causes they believe in, and two in five say they do so always or often. But don’t rush out to suddenly support causes not related to your brand – 60% tell us that brands should only get involved with causes that are related to the products they sell, so authenticity is important too. We’d also advise against paying lip service to a cause without delivering any real action (like ongoing donations, or contributing positively through business practices) – Gen Z are too smart to fall for greenwashing.

According to research, the top 10 causes Gen Z identify with globally are as follows:

  1. Climate Change
  2. Gun Control
  3. Human Rights
  4. Gender Equality
  5. Animal Welfare
  6. Child Labor/Human Trafficking
  7. Racial/Ethnic Discrimination
  8. Bullying
  9. LGBTQ+ Rights
  10. Abortion/Birth Control

4. Sustainability

It’s no surprise sustainability is high on the priority list for Gen Z – look at any recent climate change protest and you’ll see a huge proportion of teens and young adults involved. This sentiment is shared across the cohort, with 60% of young people reporting they are worried about the implications of climate change.

From small to big business, there’s been a big push in the last few years to move towards more sustainable business practices and manufacturing. Many brands have switched to eco-friendly packaging, ditched harmful ingredients, or reduced their carbon footprint – and while there’s always room for improvement, it’s key to communicate what you are doing to help attract Gen Z, as well as your ongoing commitments to sustainable eCommerce.

What sustainability improvements can your business make, or communicate better to your customers? Here’s a few to get you started:

  • Low- or zero-waste products
  • Minimal, reusable, recyclable, or biodegradable packaging
  • Carbon neutral or climate positive
  • Sustainable raw materials
  • Plastic-free alternatives
  • Recycled raw materials (e.g. plastic)
  • Non-toxic, biodegradable or eco-friendly ingredients

5. Easily navigable

Gen Z consumers also expect eCommerce stores to have easy-to-use navigation – as a generation who have grown up using smartphones and the simplified navigation of apps like Instagram and Tiktok, it’s no surprise they’re used to being able to find what they want.

Make sure your main navigation works seamlessly on desktop and mobile devices – and be sure to regularly audit it’s still working effectively as you add new products and ranges to your line. We also advise investing in a great internal site search for brands with larger product ranges – a system that uses AI is a must for improving customer experience when shopping a huge product catalog. Remember there are likely to be generational differences in the words and concepts used – especially the use of slang by the younger generation – so it’s worth researching and testing the vocabulary you use across your navigation and product copy.

Beyond your navigation – remember that many Gen Z customers will land directly on a product or category page, either from social channels or Google Ad campaigns. Setting up custom landing pages does two big things to help convert customers new to your brand: maintaining a consistent message and brand proposition from advert to your site; and offering a focussed goal to your customers, where proposition and actions align with customer intent, making it easier for them to make that next click. Take it one step further by making sure your product pages include all the information a customer needs, including everything they need to know about shipping, delivery and returns, alongside the product information.

6. BNPL options are a must

Buy Now, Pay Later services – like Klarna, Clearpay and Afterpay – are popular with both Millenials and Gen Z across eCommerce and beyond, but their use is growing much faster with the younger cohort. By the end of 2022, 44.1% of Gen Z digital buyers in the US ages 14 and older will have used BNPL services at least once that year, compared with only 37.2% of Millennials. There’s a similar story in the UK, where BNPL is consistently ranked as a preferred credit payment method over traditional credit cards.

BNPL services don’t just let consumers spread the cost – they actually often spend more. Research by Adobe showed orders placed with BNPL are on average 18% larger, coupled with a 215% YOY growth in the first 2 months of 2021. So not only could including BNPL options on your eCommerce site increase conversions with Gen Z customers, especially for higher-ticket items – it could also increase your AOV, too.

7. Device portability

We’re written before about the importance of your customers being able to shop from multiple devices – and this advice rings true for Gen Z, too. 66% of Gen Z use more than one device at a time, so ensuring your site is accessible across mobile, tablet and desktop devices is key here. Offering a smooth browsing and shopping experience on every device, even when they want to switch from laptop to smartphone, could be the difference between a Gen Z shopper staying loyal to you or switching over to a competitor.

Offering social logins, like Facebook and Google, are a good way to allow you to serve personalised experiences to every device – helping to make that transition between devices less jarring, and not forcing customers to make another set of new account details to remember. Making use of device-specific touchpoints and features – including pinching on images and using native calendars on mobile – will also score highly here, as will proper use of alt text, accessible colour schemes, and HTML-only versions of your pages, which makes your site more accessible to customers with additional needs from all audience groups.

8. Engaging social media

The top social media platform for Gen Z is Instagram, followed by YouTube and TikTok. Crucially, many say they don’t want to be sold to – preferring to use social media for entertainment and community-building. However – Gen Z do buy things from social media. 97% of Gen Z consumers say they now use social media as their top source of shopping inspiration, and they are the biggest users of social commerce too – where users can shop directly in a social media app (instead of going to a website) which is currently offered on popular apps including Instagram and Tiktok.

So if they don’t want to be sold to… What’s making them shop? Here’s the answer: Gen Z are heavily… well… Influenced by online influencers and content creators. The engaging and relatable content that these independent creators develop and distribute fulfils their want for community-building and entertainment, especially for those with more niche interests not satisfied by traditional media. And of course – to earn a decent living, most influencers need to partner up with brands and recommend their products. The product categories where Gen Z are more likely to buy thanks to influencer content are clothing, beauty, technology and home products – so if you’re in one of these categories, you should seriously consider investing in influencer marketing, if you aren’t already. 

One final takeaway here is that your eCommerce marketing should include social in the mix – and in addition to advertising spend, it’s key to invest in community building and original content creation that appeals to the younger demographics using those platforms, rather than simply focus on using those channels to ‘sell’ your products in the traditional sense.

How does your site rank for Gen Z’s expectations?

If you’re not sure where to start – we’ve made it easy. Our 10-minute quiz will rank your site on the Gen Z-friendly scale, and reveal the areas you should focus on improving – along with tips and tricks to get you started.

Take the quiz to see how well your eCommerce site is doing at attracting Generation Z