What Gen Z Expects from E-commerce Retailers

Online retailers might feel overwhelmed when it comes to keeping up with the latest e-commerce trends. Especially when targeting Gen Z.

Michaela Ivanova
November 2, 2023
gen z expects from e-commerce

Online retailers might feel overwhelmed when it comes to keeping up with the latest e-commerce trends. Especially when targeting Gen Z.

For good or bad, retailers need to keep up the pace though. Understanding Gen Z’s shopping habits and catering to their needs is crucial.

In this blog post, we will explore the latest trends that point to what matters to this generation.

Fast shipping

According to a recent survey conducted by Salesforce 64% of Gen Z anticipate their orders to be delivered within two days, if not faster.

Meeting these expectations is crucial for online retailers that want to gain a competitive edge. There are two main strategies for achieving this goal.

One approach involves partnering with couriers that provide expedited delivery services. The second option is to handle deliveries in-house. The first option reduces workload but the second allows for greater control over the entire process.

The decision between these approaches depends on factors such as the retailer's business model, product range, shipping volume, and other pertinent considerations.

Additionally, technology such as automated warehouses, smart inventory management systems, and route optimization software can optimize the delivery process.

Free shipping

According to the same Salesforce study, 67% of Gen Z customers expect free shipping as a standard offering. And while free shipping is a customer magnet, retailers need to navigate the financial side of this perk.

Covering the cost of free shipping requires a thoughtful approach to maintain a healthy bottom line. Retailers can consider a few strategies to balance customer satisfaction with cost considerations.

Incorporating the cost of shipping into the product prices is a common practice. Adjusting product prices allows retailers to absorb the shipping expenses without explicitly charging customers. However, it's essential to strike a balance to remain competitive in the market.

Setting a minimum order value for free shipping is another tactic. It encourages customers to spend more which offsets the shipping costs for the retailer.

Managing returns expenses is another crucial aspect for retailers. Establishing clear return policies, including who covers return shipping costs, can help mitigate potential losses.

Some retailers choose to deduct return shipping costs from the refund amount, ensuring that the customer bears the expense if they decide to return the product.


Gen Z seeks a distinct and personalized online shopping experience. To meet this demand, online retailers should consider data analytics seriously. This helps gather insights into individual customer preferences and purchase patterns.

Investing in data analytics equips retailers with a deeper understanding of what makes their customers tick. It's not just about understanding what customers bought before. It's about predicting what they'll want next.

Beyond the basics, this information becomes a goldmine for crafting personalized product recommendations, tailored discounts, and even customized packaging.

Additionally, geolocation data can further refine the personalization process. Retailers can tailor offerings based on a customer's location, promoting items relevant to local trends or weather conditions.

Seamless omnichannel experience

Gen Z shoppers want the freedom to connect with brands seamlessly. This means using mobile apps, websites, social media, and in-store visits. 

Moreover, chatbots on websites and mobile apps can enhance customer support and engagement. These AI-powered assistants provide instant responses to queries and improve the overall shopping experience.

Additionally, useful features like click-and-collect or curbside pickup can kick the customer experience up a notch. Many successful brands are leveraging social commerce, allowing users to purchase products directly through social media platforms.

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are gaining traction in the retail space. Brands like IKEA are using AR to let customers virtually place furniture in their homes before buying. This kind of tech adds a futuristic touch to the shopping experience — something that Gen Z tends to appreciate.

Sustainable practices

Sustainability holds significant weight for Gen Z customers. A Nielsen study reveals that a whopping 73% of Gen Z shoppers are ready to pay more for eco-friendly products.

For online retailers, making a positive impact is as straightforward as adopting eco-friendly packaging and delivery solutions. This can mean opting for biodegradable or recyclable materials, showcasing a commitment to environmental responsibility.

Moreover, delivery operations can also go green. For instance, optimizing delivery routes not only speeds up deliveries but also reduces carbon emissions.

Virtual try-on and augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual try-on technologies are not just futuristic concepts but are becoming mainstream in e-commerce. These technologies address the challenge of the inability to physically interact with products in online shopping.

For example, AR can enable customers to see how a piece of furniture would look in their living room or how a pair of glasses would fit their face. This interactivity not only enhances customer experience but also significantly reduces return rates, which is beneficial for both customers and retailers.

The adoption of these technologies is a testament to a brand's commitment to innovative customer experiences.

Voice-enabled shopping

Voice commerce is rapidly gaining traction, with voice-enabled devices becoming ubiquitous in homes. Retailers can capitalize on this trend by optimizing their websites for voice search, integrating with popular voice assistants, and ensuring that their product information is easily accessible through voice commands.

Enhanced transparency

Gen Z values authenticity and transparency in brands. This extends to every aspect of the e-commerce experience, from the accuracy of product descriptions to ethical business practices.

Retailers must ensure clear communication regarding product sourcing, pricing, and any associated ethical practices. Customer service plays a crucial role, with prompt responses and proactive problem-solving being key to maintaining a positive relationship with Gen Z customers.

Incorporating user feedback and engaging with customers on social media platforms are effective strategies to demonstrate transparency and build trust.Key takeaways

Key takeaways

In the world of online shopping, understanding and adapting to the needs of Gen Z isn't just a trend—it's a necessity. From speedy and free shipping to personalized experiences, retailers need to adapt in order to win Gen Z shoppers.

Sustainable practices are not only good for the planet but also a strong selling point too. Adoption of AR, voice-enabled shopping, and transparent communication are also a must.

But more than anything else, it's about building relationships. That's what will set successful online retailers apart in this fast-paced world.

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