Pivotree Commerce, Data Management & Supply Chain Blog

Gen Z: The Next Generation of E-commerce (Webinar Recap)

by | Jun 17, 2022 | Blog

A huge thanks to our amazing sponsors for helping us bring this timely topic to life.

SAP: One of the world’s leading producers of business management software, empowering companies to effectively organize and distribute their data.

Syndigo: The industry’s first “active content engine,” which enables brands to control their content, manage data flow, and harness growth.

Does your e-commerce business know how to reach the next generation of shoppers?

Gen Z is a large (and growing!) demographic. If you don’t understand them and their buying habits, you’ll have a hard time achieving success, both now and in the future.

In this webinar, we sit down with four leaders in the e-commerce industry:

  • Jenn VandeZande, Editor in Chief, The Future of Commerce / Head of Digital Engagement for SAP CX
  • Nikki Grigsby, Chief Operations Officer at Syndigo
  • Levana Wang, a Gen Z expert and content creator
  • Elizabeth Scott, VP, Business Operations – Supply Chain at Pivotree

View the entire webinar here, or keep reading for a recap of insights from our hosts. 

In this webinar:

01:41 – An introduction to the webinar’s four panelists

04:08 – Topic: What does the next generation of users look like?

06:19 – Nikki talks about the power of social media when it comes to Gen Z 

09:08 – Levana discusses why influencer-driven Amazon storefronts are popular

10:33 – Topic: How can e-commerce brands anticipate the needs of Gen Z?

10:58 – Elizabeth discusses the interesting connection between commerce and supply chain

16:22 – Jenn talks about the role tech plays in terms of Gen Z and company values

19:21 – Topic: What can e-commerce brands do to integrate values into their practices?

22:42 – Nikki discusses the need to make e-commerce brands inclusive and accessible

24:52 – Levana explains why Gen Z requires action from brands, not just talk

35:45 – Topic: What practices should e-commerce brands adopt or abandon in 2022?

38:42 – Jenn talks about the need to bake ethics into every company decision to reach Gen Z

44:18 – Elizabeth reminds us that Gen Z is connected, data driven, and made up of digital natives

45:45 – The four panelists answer Q&A

What does the next generation of users look like?

Gen Z is here and ready to shop, with an estimated buying power of about $140B.

The individuals in this age bracket are unique from previous generations because they’ve never known a world without technology. Jenn notes that Gen Z understands “how to use digital, and that’s primarily what they use.”

Gen Zers are also experts when it comes to social media, which has had a tremendous impact on e-commerce and purchasing.

Because Gen Zers are digital natives and spend a lot of time on social media apps, the way they buy things is different from previous generations. These individuals research their purchases and read plenty of product reviews before purchasing. Because of this, Gen Zers are highly educated customers who know what they want before they connect to brands.

One of the ways they conduct research is by following social media influencers. In fact, Nikki notes that, after friends and family, influencers are Gen Z’s preferred choice for product recommendations.

Finally, Gen Zers are incredibly purpose-driven. They want to support companies that align with their personal values and strive to do so.

What does all of this mean for brands? First, your company must make the buying process as seamless and frictionless as possible. And second, it means that the products your company creates need to live up to the images that your marketing team puts out.

How can e-commerce brands anticipate the needs of Gen Z?

Elizabeth points out, “As Gen Z voices rise up, the demands that brands are being held to are higher, from an ethical standpoint.” To succeed in this environment, businesses must look to the future and make social and environmental issues a priority.

To illustrate this point, Elizabeth talks about a fashion retailer that built a manufacturing facility in South Africa. Their investment allowed the brand to fulfill product orders faster and give back to the community that helps make the products. 

Elizabeth also talks about the concern many Gen Zers have for the environment. By 2026, an estimated 266B packages will be shipped per year, which will almost certainly have a negative environmental impact. Fortunately, brands can minimize these negatives with technology. Doing so will help companies connect with Gen Zers on a deeper level.

It’s important to remember that “helping the environment,” or any other value that your brand champions, needs to be more than a talking point. It needs to be “ingrained in the policies” of a company, as Jenn says. Technology can help make this happen as well.

What can e-commerce brands do to integrate values into their practices?

First and foremost, Nikki says that “it has to be from an end-to-end experience.” In other words, you can’t inject values into one aspect of your business and not another. Whether you’re recruiting new employees or building company culture, prioritize your ethics.

Nikki also says, “Gen Z wants to have a really immersive e-commerce experience and they want to be captivated.” 

To do this, you need to “take the data experience and make it a universal experience.” That way each of your customers feels included. You must make your company’s content more accessible via video captioning, translating content into different languages, mentioning sustainable practices, etc.

Ultimately, Nikki says that Gen Z wants to “make really informed decisions and they want an experience that’s really tailored to their needs, but those needs can change on a daily basis.” So, brands need to continually think about ways to satisfy their customers.

Levana is a member of Gen Z herself, and she stresses that, “We need to see action from these businesses when they support causes we care about.”

It’s not enough to prioritize ethical practices. You need to make sure that your customers, especially those in the Gen Z age bracket, know that your brand prioritizes ethical practices and that there’s physical proof of your support.

“It’s more than just an Instagram post,” Levana notes. “We want to see the effort put in: consistent donations to organizations that are initiating change, enforced company education on issues of DE&I, [and] increased representation of diversity amongst employees.”

Elizabeth also adds that, “The best technology goes beyond just automating things.” Think about ways that your e-commerce brand can use technology to become a more ethical business and serve customers in more meaningful ways.

What practices should e-commerce brands adopt or abandon in 2022?

All the panelists agree: One of the best things you can do for your e-commerce brand is aligning your actions with your authentic values. What do you care about? And what does your company stand for? Prioritize these things and you’ll be able to connect with Gen Zers.

In addition, Jenn reminds us that B2B buyers “expect the same experience” as B2C buyers. Ethics should be baked into everything a B2B brand does, too.

To close out the segment, Nikki discusses the importance of company culture, especially in terms of hiring. Bring in the right people—the people who understand and will uphold your company’s values—and everything after that will be much easier.

For more insights, watch the full webinar on YouTube.

Notable Quotes From the Webinar
  • “Gen Z understands how to use digital, and that’s primarily what they use.” – Jenn VandeZande, Head of Digital Engagement Strategy at SAP Customer Experience
  • “As Gen Z voices rise up, the demands that brands are being held to are higher, from an ethical standpoint.” – Elizabeth Scott, VP, Business Operations – Supply Chain at Pivotree
  • “Gen Z wants to have a really immersive e-commerce experience and they want to be captivated.” – Nikki Grigsby, Chief Operations Officer at Syndigo
  • “Gen Z wants to make really informed decisions and they want an experience that’s really tailored to their needs, but those needs can change on a daily basis.” – Nikki Grigsby, Chief Operations Officer at Syndigo
  • “We need to see action from these businesses when they support causes we care about.” – Levana Wang, Gen Z expert and content creator
  • “It’s more than just an Instagram post. We want to see the effort put in: consistent donations to organizations that are initiating change, enforced company education on issues of DE&I, increased representation of diversity amongst employees, etc.” – Levana Wang, Gen Z Expert and Content Creator
  • “The best technology goes beyond just automating things.” – Elizabeth Scott, VP, Business Operations – Supply Chain at Pivotree
  • “Too many companies think, ‘Oh, you’re a content writer; you can write this post and put it across these networks.’ It’s going to take more than that. You’re going to have to have an integration of teams.” Jenn VandeZande, Head of Digital Engagement Strategy at SAP Customer Experience

 

The brands in this webinar:

SAP

Syndigo

Pivotree