Take the Long View

Smart retailers are considering how different generations perceive the in-store experience
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Posted October 8, 2019

In any business, it’s easy to get caught up in the rollercoaster of ups and downs that every industry experiences. Retail is no exception, and if you haven’t white-knuckled it for the past few years, then I’d argue you haven’t been paying attention.

The reality is that no matter how adventurous we might be as individuals or organizations, change can be difficult to deal with. And there’s no doubt that in retail, we’ve been experiencing a seemingly incomprehensible amount of change in an extremely compressed period of time.

But just as the pendulum swings one way – let’s say toward an increasing amount of online shopping coupled with a drastic reduction in the number of stores – it inevitably reaches its apex and begins to head back in the other direction.

A recent study by Oracle NetSuite (San Mateo, Calif.), Wakefield Research (Arlington, Va.) and The Research Doctor (Coxsackie, N.Y.) polled 1200 consumers and 400 retail executives across the U.S., U.K. and Australia to gauge their impressions of the in-store shopping experience. Interestingly enough, the research found that despite stereotypes, Gen Z and millennials (at 43 percent) are the cohorts most likely to do more in-store shopping in the coming year, following by Gen X (29 percent).

Gen Z and millennials (57 percent) also reported the most positive view of the in-store environment with Gen X (40 percent) following. Ironically, it’s the baby boomers (at 27 percent) that reported the in-store environment to be less inviting to consumers overall, according to the report.

“After all the talk about brick-and-mortar stores being dead, it’s interesting to see that ‘digital natives’ are more likely to increase their shopping in physical stores this year than any other generation,” says Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst Greg Zakowicz, Oracle NetSuite. “It really is a complex puzzle and as this study clearly shows, retailers need to think carefully about how they meet the needs of different generations.”