Today’s youth have not only grown up with access to the Internet but have also come of age constantly connected through with smartphones and social media. They are naturally more than digitally native and have unprecedented access to information — from which friends have birthdays in May to how to do their math homework to who designed the pants Billie Eilish was wearing in her most recent music video. Generation Z’s basic expectation is that they can learn anything if they seek it out; knowledge is their most valued resource.
In retail, knowledge has relied on several factors: the knowledge of in store salespeople, the knowledge in catalogs and advertisements and knowledge from friends and family. Shoppers take this knowledge and hope to make an informed decision about their purchase.
So how can retailers adapt to Gen Z’s expectations? Blockchain technology.
The sophisticated technology has a wide range of uses, but at their core blockchains are about making information more accessible while maintaining security and accuracy. In other words, blockchain is a great fit for a generation of consumers who crave information and pride themselves on learning the truth. Here are three reasons why:
Retailers can store various types of information on a distributed blockchain network — from digital brand assets to detailed inventory data. One of the most important applications is in supply chain transparency, where the blockchain acts as a universally accessible database for a retailer’s products. Blockchain data management helps consumers to get more information about what they’re buying.
When brands sync their inventories with a blockchain database, they’re able to offer their consumers direct access to full information about their products. While researching a product, curious consumers can input a unique SKU number in a blockchain search tool and know exact details about the origins and history of the product. Consumers can peel back the curtain to get lesser known information such as where items are manufactured, where they’ve traveled, what they’re made of, etc.
This traceability works in two ways. On one hand, consumers feel more informed and empowered in their purchases. They have more practical knowledge about what they buy, which leads them to make sounder decisions when it comes to shopping. On the other hand, having a traceable inventory speaks volumes to a brand’s own transparency. A retailer that commits fully to this approach creates an ethos of transparency for the whole brand. For Gen Z shoppers, this is an invaluable brand equity.
Gen Z’ers are pragmatic and calculated shoppers, whether in-store or online. The tech-savvy generation goes through an elaborate process of info gathering. Phone in hand, they check prices on competing stores, crowdsource opinions via instant messages to family and friends and read a handful of reviews. Then they’re ready to purchase.
The retailers that make clear, easy-to-access information a priority will be able to capture Gen Z’s attention. In the same way blockchain keeps information transparent, it can help organize all of a brand’s data assets in one place that is easy for consumers to access. By incorporating blockchain into their communication and customer service, retailers can encourage consumers to ask questions, answer them quickly and learn more about what they buy, building stronger relationships in the process.
Traceability and accessibility both lead to stronger consumer trust. No matter the industry, blockchain technology’s core promise is trust because information is stored securely but made visible to all — an enormous value in the retail space.
On blockchains, information is validated by a trustworthy source — the blockchain network itself. A peer-to-peer network ensures that information is not tampered with or manipulated, meaning that when consumers research brands or items on the network, they can trust that the information is accurate.
When retail becomes less of a guessing game, shoppers are able to see the true value of what they buy. Whether a consumer prioritizes sustainability or bang-for-their-buck or a certain level of quality, they’ll be able to understand which retailers and products are right for them.
Through an increased level of trust, transparency and information accessibility, blockchain takes consumer education to a new level to meet the expectations of Generation Z. For a generation whose answer to most problems is to ‘Google it,’ blockchain-enabled retail seems like the logical next step. In a sense, retailers that leverage blockchain will usher in an era where shopping is about what the consumer knows, not what they don’t know.
Yifat Baror is Executive Vice President Business Development at Project Verte. The best way to know how brands work is to have created one yourself. Baror founded Emilka, a high-end clothing chain and distribution business that brought exclusive European brands to shoppers. Following Emilka’s acquisition by private investors she transitioned to Zulily as a business development executive, where she created hundreds of partnerships in home, beauty and apparel. With this insider’s understanding of the retail industry and e-Commerce, Baror is essential to building and maintaining Project Verte’s relationships with brands and communicating how its full circle solution can help them grow and meet their customers’ needs.