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6 Things Gen-Z is Looking for in Virtual Stores

E-commerce technologies have made it easy to shop for anything from the comfort of home; these days, the experience is more interactive than ever before. Online shopping is the preferred way to shop for many Gen-Z and Millennial consumers, 40 percent of whom get over half their clothing items online. Now, brands are racing to provide consumers with the same level of engaging, interactive experiences they once got from shopping in brick-and-mortar stores.

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To capitalize on this consumer need, many brands have employed the technologies and strategies required to set up virtual stores, build their live and social e-commerce presence, offer advanced personalization and customization features, and involve metaverse technologies for gamification and gaming platforms. 

If you’re stumped on how to get your brand to appeal to Gen-Z and Millennial consumers, follow the guide below to learn which components to include in your virtual store today. 

Personalization and Customization

A critical component for Gen-Z online shopping is to provide consumers with the ability to fully customize products and receive personalized recommendations based on their browsing habits. As personalization has become an expected mainstream feature in e-commerce, content personalization and messaging can be powerful tools for persuading customers to shop on your site. 

Today’s consumers expect brands to adjust content automatically based on the current context. When they fail to adapt their content accordingly, many consumers will get annoyed at the lack of personalization.

One of the most popular strategies for personalization is to conduct product recommendation quizzes, which are meant to help users find products they would like to see in the store. For example, a cosmetics brand can use a product recommendation quiz to help its customers find the best makeup shade by asking detailed questions about their skin.

Gamification

Another popular tactic that helps today’s virtual stores appeal to Gen-Z shopping habits is the use of gamification. Combining the concept of games with e-commerce creates immersive, engaging platforms that can significantly impact conversion rates. Many brands are beginning to see the value of incorporating gaming platforms into their virtual stores and establishing a presence on popular platforms like Fortnite and Roblox.

Fortnite is one of the world’s most popular gaming platforms, boasting more than 350 million daily active users, and Roblox is in a quick second place with 202 million. Each platform allows users to use real currency to purchase virtual accessories, clothing, and in-game extras. Many brands have quickly created fully immersive experiences for customers, releasing regular map and feature updates that allow users to explore reimagined worlds where they collect currency that they can spend on branded garments and accessories. 

Presence in the Metaverse

As the metaverse grows, so do the options for Gen-Z to shop online. Gen-Z users now prefer e-commerce experiences that incorporate components of the metaverse. They enjoy having the ability to purchase products in a fully digital world, where they can win products and prizes through metaverse games and other immersive experiences. Many Gen-Z online shoppers are familiar with gaming platforms, digital assets, and play-to-win opportunities. As the metaverse adopts these videogame-like capabilities, many brands are adopting them to their virtual stores to improve engagement. 

Users are beginning to prefer e-commerce experiences that have metaverse-like components. Many users already interested in gaming platforms like Roblox and Fortnite are familiar with concepts such as play-to-win and digital assets. The metaverse is adopting many of these videogame-like capabilities, and many e-commerce brands are adopting them to improve user engagement.

Social Engagement Opportunities

While the experiential e-commerce strategies above are the most critical components for brands to focus on, another that can’t be overlooked is social engagement and live commerce. These components require audience participation through chat functions and reaction buttons for instant purchasing of featured products. 

Some of today’s most popular social engagement opportunities use live commerce technologies, which allow consumers to shop while video chatting with friends or watching a live stream from an influencer or sales associate.  

One excellent example is ByondXR’s virtual store platform. With custom AR/ VR shopping, Meta-Me, NFT features, Gaming/ Web 3 and more, this social engagement opportunity allows customers to meet their needs virtually and go shopping together. 

More social engagement innovations like this are coming up all the time as many brands and retailers are pushing into the metaverse. The aim of all is to marry the social experience of in-store shopping with the convenience of online retail.

Sustainability

Many Gen-Z consumers view the generations before them as people who represented materialism, capitalism, and overconsumption. Modern consumers care a lot about the environment and the planet’s future, which provides huge opportunities for brands that engage in sustainable business growth. 

A report from First Insight shows that Gen-Z consumers are more likely to choose brands that follow environmentally-friendly business processes and purchase sustainable, environmentally-friendly products than ones that don’t meet these standards. Specifically, 73 percent of Gen-Z consumers will pay at least 10 percent more for sustainable products and services as they place a high value on personalized products and brands that share their political points of view. Virtual stores allow brands to test markets and launch worldwide without having to build warehouses and physical stores unless the market calls for it. 

Strong Site Performance

While the components above are critical for virtual stores that want to attract Gen-Z consumers, weak site performance can be the make-or-break component above all else. Even if a website or app contains all the relevant, engaging content that today’s consumers are looking for, 60 percent of Gen-Z shoppers will leave the site if it’s slow to load.

Fast load times, engaging VR opportunities, quick delivery, keeping up with the trends, and easy payment options are all paramount to Gen-Z consumers. They’re a generation born into an age of fast fashion and are prone to impulse purchasing, so they expect trending styles to be available immediately and will go with the brands that can provide what they’re looking for faster than the rest. 

Gen-Z consumers expect more from e-commerce channels and virtual stores every day. To set themselves up for success in today’s phygital world, brands must continue to adopt new technologies and evolve their strategies to keep Gen-Z and Millennial shoppers engaged and happy.

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