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Maria Prados, Retail Expert, Worldpay from FIS: forget Generation Z, we’re all next generation shoppers now

With shoppers of all ages now embracing digital and mobile, merchants shouldn’t underestimate how consumers are ready to take advantage of new payment methods and tech trends, says Maria Prados, Retail Expert, Worldpay from FIS.

As global attitudes to technology homogenise, it’s time to push forward with checkout innovation and accept that ‘next-level retail’ really is for everyone.

Data from Worldpay’s recent Future Shoppers Report (see Fig 1) shows that global attitudes to technology are becoming more standardised across the generations, especially among Gen Z (18-26), younger Millennials (27-35), and older Millennials (36-42).   

Irrespective of their life stage, these three groups show almost parallel attitudes to embracing checkout innovation. Over half use digital wallets, four out of five are ready to use advanced checkout technology and three in four are open to checkout-free stores.

Looking to the future, all show the same high levels of belief that shopping will be fuelled by augmented reality (70-72%).

What about Gen X, Boomers and beyond?

Think everyone over the age of 60 only wants to use cash, dislikes self-service and will shun virtual tools?  Think again. 

When it comes to being attracted to new ways to shop and pay, a significant proportion of older consumers are open about choosing and using new payment methods.

For instance, over a third (36%) of shoppers aged between 59 and 70 years now use digital wallets, while more than one in four (28%) of those over 71 are following suit. 

Surprisingly, Seniors in their seventies demonstrate the same willingness to use advanced checkout technology (75%) than those in their forties and fifties (77%).

Older consumers are also ready to embrace new store concepts with one in two of those aged 59+ open to using checkout-free stores, and half anticipating that augmented reality will be important to their retail journeys in the future.    

Fig 1. Younger generations’ attitudes are becoming homogenised while
older generations are catching up

‘Next-level retailing’ holds appeal for all ages.

Digital interactions are now the norm for consumers. Everyday services are increasingly immersed in the virtual world – from banking and finance to healthcare and entertainment.

So, when it comes to investing in, developing and communicating new retail initiatives, merchants may have to ditch outdated legacy assumptions around their appeal. 

While the adoption of e-commerce, smart devices, and social platforms may have traditionally been led by younger generations, it’s clear that older generations are not only catching up but are eager for change.  

The data driven insights in this report show that, to reach a wider audience, modern day merchants must think multi-generations across multi-channels. That means creating sales interfaces and functions that focus on common ground in order to transcend the normal boundaries of age demographics.

What can merchants do to expand the generational reach of their checkouts?

Payment technology must facilitate commerce as never before.

Digital and alternative technologies are already gaining traction amongst shoppers of all ages. Consumers are now united in wanting seamless omnichannel experiences rich with rewards, personalisation and convenience.

For seniors using digital payment services, accessibility and usability is paramount. Payment processes should be reassuring and simple to maximise adoption and offer easy-to-use digital services that emphasize convenience without eroding security. 

To appeal to a wider cross section of omnichannel shoppers, merchants must focus on delivering:

·       frictionless access to hybrid services like buy online pay in store (BOPIS) and Click and Collect   

·       exciting new ways to aid product discovery, price and feature comparison across channels

·       intuitive tools that help buyers navigate more easily in-store e.g. QR codes and apps

·       individually personalised offers, promotions and loyalty schemes

·       AI driven content, bot support and curated offerings

·       the right mix of payment choice e.g. buy now pay later (BNPL) to help shoppers budget responsibly or one click and reoccurring payments that support mobile app users. 

Innovating in these areas, can pay dividends in terms of raising acquisition, conversion and loyalty as well as helping to broaden appeal across all age groups. 

What to expect in 2024.

As we enter a new year, retail tech trends that lean towards greater customer centricity, AI driven innovation and increasingly embedded payments will continue at pace.

But how and where these are applied is likely to change. There’s now a powerful argument for prioritising those initiatives that target all age cohorts, not just the young. 

With growth-hungry merchants looking for new ways to capture a larger slice of the market, delivering tech that makes stores smarter, experiences seamless and that boosts checkout choice and empowerment makes commercial sense.

Merchants that understand how to fully connect omnichannels not just across touchpoints, but also across a broader range of consumer segments, will be best placed to thrive.

While payments diversify, and retail tech becomes more ubiquitous, intuitive and invisible, it’s clear that exciting new connected services are no longer the bastion of Gen Z.

As next level retailing comes of age, it’s time for merchants, developers and tech providers to rise to the challenge and accept that we are all next generation shoppers now.

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