Gen Z are those born in 1996 or older, and they are about to take over. In fact, by 2020, this generation will be the largest consumer group in the world, making up over 40% of the consumer base.

Their shopping needs and behaviours will force retailers to rethink and re-engineer their approaches more than the last three generations combined. This generation provides some unique challenges for retailers. Although Millennials and Gen Z shoppers have been raised with Internet connections, they still appreciate a fulfilling trip to the store.

In fact, members of these generations actually believe more strongly than their elders that brands should operate in physical stores. Eighty percent of Gen Z consumers and 82% of Millennials say it’s important for brands to have a store presence, compared to only 69% of Gen Xers and 65% of Baby Boomers – according to a study carried out by iModerate.

An HRC Retail Advisory study found that 90% of Gen Z shoppers find strong Wi-Fi connection is important to their overall shopping experience. More than four in 10 Gen Z shoppers say they have purchased clothing or accessories in a physical store because of feedback from their friends on social media.

With facts and figures like the ones above, can we really afford to ignore the new marketing opportunities these young shoppers bring us? Gen Z shoppers are plugged into mobile and social shopping and are completely disrupting historically traditional shopping patterns, so keeping them connected pays off for retailers.

Not only does offering free Wi-Fi make Gen Z shoppers spend more time in your store, it also provides the retailer new marketing opportunities, such as:

  • Turning them into ‘brand ambassadors’ for your store by encouraging them to share selfies, posts, or tweets using your store hashtag. With a life that is lived ‘socially,’ these shoppers prefer the ‘we’ and not the ‘me’. They seek multiple opinions before making a buying decision, and share their purchases online like trophies in a case;
  • Offering sales or discounts in return for Wi-Fi connection. At the end of the day, it’s a win-win – customers get perks for doing something that they already want to do, while you boost the likelihood that they’ll actually make a purchase; and
  • Take advantage of online loyalty programmes that reward customers for visiting your store. Chances are they’ll be more likely to sign into a loyalty programme if they can use your free Wi-Fi to do so instead of their own data.

Offering consumers free Wi-Fi also has its challenges, so, we’ve put together some tips to help you through the process:

  • Reduce the risk of exposure to your company data and your point-of-sales system by creating a separate guest Wi-Fi network for customers only. We would strongly recommend doing so as a hacked system could potentially be detrimental to your business;
  • Be sure to have a Wi-Fi service that is easily accessible by any customer that comes throw your door. It will save your employees, and the customers, time. No one wants to wait in line to ask for a password; and
  • You can ask your customers for their email address in return for logging onto your Wi-Fi or give them the option to log in with a social media account – 2017 has seen this method overtaking the need for many companies to use passwords. It also helps capture consumer’s data, which can be really beneficial for your company.

Recently, Amazon got a patent for a technology that would block shoppers from being able to shop online from within its stores if the customer is using the store's free Wi-Fi. The idea is to stop show-rooming a very common practice.

They failed to realise that the Gen Z shopper will show loyalty to the store that embraces the way they live and shop. Which is why adapting to their habits and beliefs is more important than some retailers may realise.

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