The Interactive Retail Experiences Gen-Z Customers Really Want

Gen-Z is arguably the most intriguing group of consumers facing retailers to date. Growing up online, they hold a unique set of values, unlike any previous generation before them. 

Gen-Z craves logical, intuitive, and curated experiences- and expect these experiences from the businesses where they shop. 

To put it simply, for Gen-Z, the Apple Store has never not existed. 

Eye-catching designs with accessible, touchable displays are merely second nature. 

Desiring originality and ingenuity, Gen-Z want retailers to earn their business by not only guaranteeing that the in-store experience matches the online experience (this type of omnichannel synergy is a mere baseline expectation), they want interactive retail experiences. 

Interactive shopping is no longer trying on a pair of rock climbing shoes. Interactive shopping is now trying on those climbing shoes and then taking them for a test drive on the store’s 25-foot rock climbing wall.

The interactive retail experiences Gen-Z really want? Curated, engaging adventures that combine helpful technology, destination-type ventures, and displays they can proudly interact with and share with others online. 

When it comes to winning over Gen-Z’s hearts and loyalty, there are a few things retailers need to keep in mind.

Destination Experiences

Younger consumers crave new, exciting, and extraordinary experiences that encourage them to shop and interact with their inner circle of friends via social media. When engaging with shoppers that grew up in a digital-first environment, retailers must remember that the idea of sharing experiences online is nearly second nature. 

Not only do retailers need to capture the spirit of Gen-Z and the way they interact with their peers, but they also need to provide compelling experiences that encourage them to share their experiences with others. 

Retailers who provide an experience beyond just the product they are selling will be well on their way to capturing the long-term loyalty of Gen-Z Consumers.

The ‘Rec Room’ in Washington DC’s Outdoor Voices store- where you can borrow tennis rackets and roller skates.
Photo from Outdoor Voices.

Destination stores are the perfect place to let shoppers test the product in new and exciting ways while sharing their experiences with others. Destination stores are the ultimate interactive shopping experience. Brands that do this well create an indelible impression on the consumer- drawing in consumers by creating unique atmospheres (perfect fodder for, Instagram and Tik Tok content), selling new and unique items not found in other stores, and ultimately placing a strong emphasis on curated, creating experiences.  

This Sonos Store in New York City features a ‘Wall of Sound’ for music lovers to put its speakers to the test.
Photo by Sonos

Selfie Stations and Selfie Walls

Selfie stations are the perfect example of an interactive shopping experience as they provide three excellent opportunities. Selfie stations and selfie walls: 

  • Provide shoppers with an alluring entertainment experience
  • Provide shoppers with “digital currency” (their photo) that they can then share online via social media 
  • Allow shoppers to spend more time in-store, strengthening the connection between the physical space and the items they purchase 

A fantastic example of a retailer taking full advantage of selfie stations is Pigment, a San Diego-based retailer that sells gifts and other items from local artists and artisans. Their interactive displays and thoughtful dedication to the customer experience make this a favorite stop for shoppers in San Diego. 

Pigment has a permanent selfie station that promotes endorsement of its brand and provides shoppers with a unique experience. After their image is taken, participants are asked to enter their email or phone number to receive their photo. The photo is delivered digitally with Pivot’s branded hashtag- allowing shoppers to share it online with friends. 

A Simple Booth HALO at Pigment in San Diego, CA. 
Photo by Simple Booth

Retailers are also using selfie stations to circulate and boost their promotions online- some companies offer integrated technology that allows customers to receive a discount on future purchases if they share with friends or provide their email addresses and phone number. 

Pigment has also done a remarkable job of curating “selfie walls” in and out of its store. Selfie walls allow shoppers to take their physical experiences online- providing the retailer with brand awareness that money can’t buy.

Shoppers pose for selfies in and out of Pigment’s store as seen on Instagram. 

Bottom line? Selfie stations and selfie walls are a win-win for retailers. A combination of fun and rewarding for brands, selfie stations, and selfie walls encourage customers to promote their experiences while simultaneously creating passive brand recognition in spaces retailers might not be actively pursuing. 

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality often comes to mind when discussing interactive shopping strategies. Augmented reality involves new visual, auditory, or other sensory information that helps you interact with the real world. Interactive retail that incorporates augmented reality enhances the user’s experience in the store and allows them to engage and interact with your brand in new and exciting ways. 

Sephora’s Virtual Artist Technology allows consumers to try on different shades of lipstick without having to test the product.
Photo by National Retail Foundation

Thanks to the massive success of virtual try-on programs like Warby Parker- consumers are primed to engage with new tools that help enhance their experience. In-store tools like magic mirrors to determine what style looks best on you (even if that item is out of stock in the store) and interactive displays that allow you to see how a product looks on you by taking a photo in the store. 

Retailers can no longer get away with just selling their items to consumers. To grab Gen-Z’s attention (and keep it), retailers must provide interactive shopping experiences that marry physical and digital experiences in new, exciting ways.

If retailers can provide an interactive shopping experience that is both engaging and entertaining, they are well on their way to capturing the hearts and minds of the savviest generation yet. 

For more information, we encourage you to get in touch with our team of dedicated retail experts

September 14, 2022