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Nearly half, 44%, of retailers, have made no progress in customizing the in-store shopping experience and today's digital natives love brick-and-mortar more than previous generations.

Those are two top findings from a global study of shopping expectations among different generations and the role of tech in personalizing retail.

The study was conducted by Oracle NetSuite, Wakefield Research and Bob Phibbs, CEO, The Retail Doctor. It polled 1,200 consumers and 400 retail executives across the U.S., U.K. and reveals big differences in generational expectations across Baby Boomers, Gen X, millennials and Gen Z, according to a press release.

"We have seen decades of diminishing experiences in brick and mortar stores, and the differences identified in these results point to its impact on consumers over the years," said Phibbs in the release. "Retailers have fallen behind in offering in-store experiences that balance personalization and customer service but there's an opportunity to take the reins back. The expectation from consumers is clear and it's up to retailers to offer engaging and custom experiences that will cater to shoppers across a diverse group of generations."

Additional findings include:

  • Despite the stereotypes of "digital natives," Gen Z and millennials (43 percent) are most likely to do more in-store shopping this year followed by Gen X (29 percent) and Baby Boomers (13 percent).
  • Gen Z and millennials (57 percent) had the most positive view of the current retail environment feeling it was more inviting, followed by Gen X (40 percent). Baby Boomers (27 percent) were more likely to find the current retail environment less inviting than consumers overall.
  • Gen Z valued in-store interaction the least with 42 percent feeling more annoyed from increased interaction with retail associates. In contrast, millennials (56 percent), Gen X (44 percent) and Baby Boomer (43 percent) generations all noted they would feel more welcomed by more in-store interactions.
  • While more than three quarters of retail leaders (79 percent) believe AI and VR in stores will increase sales, the study found the technologies are not yet being widely accepted by any generation.
  • Overall, only 14 percent of consumers believe that emerging technologies like AI and VR will have a significant impact on their purchase decisions.
  • Emerging tech in retail stores is most attractive to millennials (50 percent) followed by Gen Z (38 percent), Gen X (35 percent) and Baby Boomers (20 percent).
  • Perceptions of VR varied widely across different generations. Fifty-eight percent of Gen Z said VR would have some influence on their purchase decisions, while 59 percent of Baby Boomers said VR would have no influence on their purchase decision.

"After all the talk about brick-and-mortar stores being dead, it's interesting to see that "digital natives" are more likely to increase their shopping in physical stores this year than any other generation," said Greg Zakowicz, senior commerce marketing analyst, Oracle NetSuite, in the release. "Stepping back, these findings fit with broader trends we have been seeing around the importance of immediacy and underlines why retailers cannot afford to make assumptions about the needs and expectations of different generations. It really is a complex puzzle and as this study clearly shows, retailers need to think carefully about how they meet the needs of different generations."