TECHNOLOGY

Shopping must-haves for Generations Y and Z are…

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

New attitudes, behaviors and shopping preferences among Generation Z and Millennials are keeping retailers on their toes.

Emerging in-store technologies and positive social media feedback are top priorities among both Generation Z and Millennial consumers. This is according to retail advisory firm HRC Retail Advisory (HRC), which surveyed 1,350 participants in North America about their shopping experiences.

More than 90% of Generation Z said that a strong Wi-Fi signal is important to them and their overall shopping experience — a prerequisite to take advantage of emerging solutions, such as Magic Mirrors, when shopping. In fact, 66% of Millennials said they would be somewhat likely to use the technology.

However, Generation Z and younger Millennials were found to embrace emerging technologies, particularly if they enhanced a connection with their social network or streamlined the shopping experience. For example, they are partial to retail apps, especially for in-store payments. Specifically, 68% of Millennials, and 64% of Generation Z stated that they would likely use a retailer’s app to make an in-store payment. Meanwhile, 78% of Millennials favor apps over traditional payment methods.

These generations are also leveraging social media when making purchase decisions. Nearly 60% of respondents among both generations use Facebook daily, with Millennials at 72% usage. YouTube ranks second among both demographics, with over 55% using the platform daily.

More than half of respondents (both generations) said they use social media to solicit opinions while shopping, and more than 40% said they have made a decision based on feedback from their network. Additionally, 25% of Millennials said they have returned items based on feedback from social media sites, and Generation Z’s return rate is as high as 62%, the study reported.

These generations are also shopping the beauty category in a whole new way. Keeping an eye on new beauty trends, both generations look to Amazon and Discount Stores (i.e. Walmart, Target) to shop for products over traditional beauty stores (i.e. Sephora, department stores). When asked where Gen Z has purchased beauty products in the last six months, 55% said discount stores and 35% said Amazon. For Millennials, 49% shop discount stores, and 45% use Amazon.

Beauty shopping is also very social, at least among Generation Z which cites friends and YouTube Beauty Gurus as their primary influences (54%). While Millennials are primarily influenced by the store experience (34%), this is less important to Generation Z (11%).

“Millennial and Generation Z’s use of technology in-store, their need to stay connected to friends via social media while they shop, and how they’re shopping beauty trends is changing consumer spending patterns,” said Farla Efros, president of HRC Retail Advisory. “While the latter generation was born with a smartphone in hand, it doesn't keep them from shopping – and even preferring to shop – in brick-and-mortar stores, as long as they have access to their ever-important social network.”

Efros added, “Generation Z in not only powerful on their own, but they are the ones dragging their Millennial parents (who prefer to shop online), back into the mall as well. Understanding these consumer segments and how they apply to a retailer’s business will be essential, as both of these generations will be crucial to retail strategies going forward.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Amazon’s grocery pickup concept finally opens — for Prime members only

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon’s latest grocery initiative is now up and running for customers.

AmazonFresh Pickup, the online grocer’s drive-by grocery delivery service, allows Amazon Prime members to order groceries online and pick them up in as little as 15 minutes. The concept launched in March, with two locations in Seattle. Initially in a beta mode, the service was available only to Amazon employees. But as of May 25, it is now open also to Amazon Prime members in the general public.

Here’s how the service works: Shoppers order online from AmazonFresh’s selection, which features “thousands of grocery items available at low prices — including high-quality meats, fresh produce, bread, dairy, household essentials and more,” according to the company’s website.

Shoppers can reserve a pick-up time — in some cases, as early as 15 minutes after ordering — and drive to their selected location where they can opt for one of two pickup options. Shoppers that pull into a dedicated parking space will have groceries delivered and loaded into their car by an Amazon employee. Shoppers can also pick up orders in a dedicated reception room, the website reported.

Amazon has also taken measures to drive customer engagement during each visit. Integrating technology that automatically recognizes vehicle license plate numbers will serve as an automatic check-in, identifying shoppers upon their future arrivals, and signaling employees to bring orders out. The service can be disabled from Amazon’s website, according to AmazonFresh Pickup FAQ page.

Unlike its AmazonFresh grocery service, the company’s AmazonFresh Pickup is free and exclusive to Amazon Prime members. The retailer’s AmazonFresh delivery service costs $14.99 per month. There is no minimum order.

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TECHNOLOGY

Warby Parker offers at-home eye exam — via app

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Warby Parker is taking self-service to a new level.

The eyewear retailer built its brand on enabling online shoppers to create their ideal pair of specs. Now the company is further extending its self-service options with an app that lets shoppers take a vision test at home.

Called Prescription Check, the mobile-based refraction service enables users to administer an exam that reviews their vision status directly through their mobile device or computer. The 20-minute test requires a credit card (purely for measuring — not tendering — purposes), 12 ft. of space and a computer.

Here’s how it works: While wearing their current Warby Parker glasses, the app guides then through a series of steps to assess whether the customer’s vision has changed since their last doctor visit. Results are reviewed remotely by an eye doctor, according to the retailer.

If there is no change, the doctor can write a new prescription and deliver it via the app. If it has changed, the doctor will request the patient book a comprehensive eye exam.

Prescription Check is currently available to customers between 18 and 40 years old who wear Warby Parker glasses, and who reside in California, New York, Florida and Virginia. For now, the service is free. The retailer is already planning on expanding the program to more states in the near future, Warby Parker said.

According to the company’s website, the retailer continues updating its technology, suggesting that the service could be expanded to a wider range of shoppers, including those who may not be regular Warby Parker shoppers.

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