Gen Z and Online Sales: A New Paradigm in Ecommerce

9th Nov 2022

Online sales used to be really quite simple – set up a website, put a paid media marketing strategy in place using Google and Facebook, ensure your SEO is good to build organic traffic and off you go…

But of course, as with all things digital, the world moves…and quickly!

As the digital age embeds itself into every facet of our lives, and Smartphones and social media platforms combine to offer a parallel reality for the majority of the world’s online browsers, the entire concept of ecommerce is experiencing a seismic shift.

Let’s speak more plainly.

Gen-Z – those born between 1997 and 2012 – now make up the second largest and fastest growing online browsing segment. Whilst Millennials still spend more time on average online per day (around 7.5 hours), Gen Z is catching up faster than ever – they’re currently at 6.5 hours per day but that’s increasing rapidly year on year, and is set to overtake the ‘old timers’ by 2024.

That in itself is interesting, bearing in mind that the Gen Z generation – the first true Digital Natives – has a burgeoning number aged in their early and mid-20s, with increased earning and spending power and purchase decision-making all becoming more and more part of their daily existence.

With that purchasing power comes the second part of the ecommerce paradigm shift…

Where the ‘older’ generations of Millennials and Boomers are quite happy to browse Google for shopping deals and flit between websites offering the items they’re looking for, Gen Z – largely because of their online habits – do the bulk of their online shopping on entirely different digital platforms.

A quick stat attack on Gen Z

  • 98% own a Smartphone
  • Spends more than 4 hours per day on Apps (excluding gaming time)
  • 40% prefer using TikTok to Google to find out information
  • Usually not have ‘traditional’ social media accounts such as Facebook
  • Will boycott a brand online if they feel strongly about a cause
  • 65% have made purchases based on an influencer’s recommendation
  • Care more about the sustainability and provenance of an item they purchase
  • Spend less and use less credit to do so
  • Is more digitally savvy and less prone to online deception or fraud

For Gen Z – a generation who never knew the world without the Internet, WhatsApp, online ordering with immediate delivery and social media communities – the way they shop has moved rapidly from the likes of Amazon and other general online retailers, and brand-owned e-commerce platforms to a new shopping space – Social E-commerce.

What is Social Ecommerce?

This is the new term for online shopping experiences centered around social media platforms and communication tools such as TikTok, WhatsApp, Pinterest and Instagram.

Whereas in the recent past an online browser may have seen an advert on a social media platform and clicked on that to move across to a standard ecommerce platform, social ecommerce keeps the entire purchase process within the social media environment.

There are significant advantages for sellers using this new channel, not least of all a far more algorithmically-targeted recommendation opportunity helping to provide a more personalised shopping experience, but most significantly a reduction in friction between purchase intention and actual checkout… the fewer the clicks, the better the conversion.

The experience is also more able to leverage functionalities such as augmented reality, in-app filters, live streams and other engaging features.

Why should online sellers take Social Ecommerce seriously?

Simply put, the future of buying power and capacity is in the hands of Gen Z, and their power to shift the market is unmatched.

A recent study by Forbes revealed that 97% of Gen Z consumers use social media as their primary source of shopping inspiration; 65% say they use social media to find entertaining content; and 61% of them are specifically interested in watching more video content.

What this means for brands and online retailers is that if you are serious about capturing this audience’s attention you need to prioritise authentic, organic content that sits within the Gen Z’s expectations and builds their trust and liking, rather than keeping your strategy overly formal and ‘standard’.

You need to consider:

  • How easy and seamless your discover/add/buy process is within a contained environment frequented by Gen Z customers
  • How attractive and relevant your content is, within the Gen Z aesthetic preferences
  • How you’re using influencers to improve your approachability as a brand
  • How you integrate elements like gamification into your marketing and sales process to improve engagement in the Gen Z sector

Taking the Gen Z opportunity seriously is a serious matter, and one you need to plan for as soon as possible. This will be the generation that takes your business to new, sustainable heights but you need to be innovative and bold.

Find out more about developing marketing strategies that can elevate your business, whatever your sector. Call us today on 01223 550800 or email for more.

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