Connected Commerce: Building a Customer Experience to Survive and Thrive

In today’s challenging retail landscape, omnichannel experiences are critical to a retailer's success. In this session on Connected Commerce: Building a Customer Experience to Survive and Thrive, Roshan Jhunja, GM of Retail at Square, was joined by Paige Fitzgerald, GM of Business Strategy and Partnerships at Cash App and Afterpay, and Arianne Fitzgerald, CDO of Finish Line and JD Sports, uncovered consumer trends, particularly among Gen Z, and omnichannel strategies that have enabled top retailers to succeed. These businesses highlighted a fully digitized tech stack, social commerce, automation technology, BNPL, and data as a few contributing factors retailers should consider when streamlining operations while meeting consumer demands.

Roshan Jhunja, GM, Square for Retail, Square

  • As digital natives, younger generations are redefining omnichannel shopping trends and leading the charge with a tech-oriented lens. A peek into our upcoming Future of Commerce report, I’ll note that 95% of Gen Zers rely on their mobile phones to shop. And looking more broadly, 19% of allconsumers want retailers to offer purchase options via text or other chat messaging tools. This is a 2% increase from 2021 and though it might sound small, I think it's an important, increasing trend.
  • Conversational commerce enables instant two-way communication between sellers and buyers via SMS and email. Personally, I don’t prefer phone call communication - and I know I’m not alone.With Square for Retail for example, we use Square Messages to provide buyers with automated order updates, which they can reply to and make changes to their order, all through SMS or email – removing the need to call a business (saving time and resources).

  • Meeting shoppers where they are is key, but working to translate your brand identity can help you connect with authenticity. We know that younger generations are digital natives and more comfortable online. So not surprising that a lot of their brand discovery is via social media. Gen Z for example spend a huge chunk of their time on one or more social platforms, led by Youtube, Instagram and Tiktok. Presence there will be a key way to target them. And as social media platforms see that trend, they increasingly are moving to enable commerce directly on these platforms.

Paige Fitzgerald, GM- Business Strategy & Partnerships, Afterpay & Cash App, Afterpay

  • We’ve seen merchants have success diversifying both direct and indirect channels to reach Gen Z customers. That is, considering how their brand appears on social platforms, shopping apps and marketplaces to provide more touch points with Gen Z customers who are already spending time on these platforms and apps. For example, many of our Afterpay partners are now looking into affiliate opportunities to reach users of Afterpay’s app. We’ve found that this offers welcome diversification to our partners’ marketing teams who are frustrated with the increasing costs and targeting constraints of their paid social campaigns.

  • According to Square’s upcoming Future of Commerce report, retailers report selling their goods on an average of four different channels. That’s not to suggest that you should sell on every channel that you hear about, but that you should seek channels that resonate most with your consumer and authentically work for your brand. Another thing worth noting is that more than half of Gen Zs (64%) use at least three social media platforms multiple times a day, with YouTube (67%), Instagram (65%) and TikTok (58%) rounding out the top three, in that order.

  • I would be remiss if I didn’t mention BNPL as a technology that has been proven to help retailers engage with their customers. At Afterpay, our Merchants look to as a marketing partner, as we’ve built a shopping engine that attracts high intent and highly engaged shoppers. And customers look to us as a way to find merchants where they can make their money go farther by paying over time. Together, that’s a powerful two-sided network. We now have the ability to do this at greater scale by combining the Cash App and Afterpay ecosystems, bringing a wider audience of Gen Z and Millenials to our merchant partners. You already see us doing that with the Cash App offers tab, where Cash App customers can discover and shop at Afterpay merchants

Arianne Parisi, SVP,
Chief Digital Officer,
JD North America

  • Retailers on average sell goods through four social channels -- Youtube, TikTok, Instagram and Facebook. "Retailers need to think of playing the long game. Test and learn new channels, although stick to ones that resonate with your brand. It’s not always about ROI. Separate the commercial expectation from the need to participate,” said Arianne Parisi.


FEB 2023