Is Fast Fashion Running Out of Style? How Ethics are Driving Gen Z’s Delivery Expectations

fast fashion

It’s undeniable that fashion has been the largest e-commerce market sector and the most dynamic one. According to Statista, the fashion industry is set to hit a $672.71 billion valuation by 2023. Unsurprisingly, almost half (44%) of online fashion orders come from Generation Z. With the growing buying power of Generation Z, this trend is expected to continue and fashion retailers are eagerly looking for ways to attract this new generation. 

The generation that was raised with a smartphone in one hand and an iPad in the other is constantly looking for new trends and tends to purchase almost two orders a month. 

Yet although today’s youth has a taste for trends, you can by no means accuse them of fast fashion. What sets Gen Z apart from most from other generations is its focus on sustainability and authenticity. A deeper dive into Gen Z’s buying habits may just reveal it to be the most ethical generation. 

While older generations are primarily driven by low shipping costs, Gen Z values flexibility and sustainability. How does this impact the delivery needs of Gen Z? Based on research of amongst 8,000 consumers, we have uncovered 4 key trends.

Trend 1: Sustainable shipping is a dealbreaker

Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important element of delivery and Gen Z is taking the lead here. More than half (60%) of Gen Z shoppers expect online stores to offer a green delivery method nowadays, and 15% would actually leave a store empty-handed if no green delivery option is available.

Although green delivery is still not common practice, there are some positive developments here. For example, in the UK, DPD, the parcel delivery firm, has announced plans to deliver to 25 towns and cities across the UK with zero and low-emission delivery means by 2025 and across Europe, H&M has even started to deliver part of their orders by bike – limiting emissions to a minimum. 

While 100% CO2-neutral delivery may not yet be within reach for all retailers, try to see what can be done in the short term: offer a green option in addition to standard shipping, for instance, or reward consumers who are willing to wait longer for green delivery with free or reduced shipping costs. 

Trend 2: Today’s youth is anything but impatient

While it is often thought faster is automatically better, by no means all orders are urgent and need to be delivered the next day. In fact, Gen Z shoppers appear to be particularly patient compared to other generations, willing to wait up to 4.4 days. With over half, 56% of Gen Z shoppers say they are willing to wait longer for an order if this is more sustainable, compared to only 30% of the over 50s market. 

Not only does this offer retailers some breathing space when it comes to processing orders, but it is also a favourable development from an environmental point of view. 

As an online retailer, you can, for example, offer nominated day delivery to increase the chance of an order being accepted the first time. In addition, more time allows for automated route optimisation, therefore increasing vehicle efficiency. 

Trend 3: Gen Z is not afraid to spend money

Unfortunately, flexible delivery often comes with a rather hefty price tag. Luckily, Gen Z shoppers are not afraid to dig deep into their pockets in order to get what they want. Whereas people over 50 want delivery to be fast and cheap, Generation Z is anything but greedy. 

While boomers on average want to pay £3.70 for an average order of £50, Gen Z shoppers are willing to go as far as £4.90. 

In the battle against the rising costs of logistics, online stores can count themselves fortunate with Gen Z shoppers. With a flexible checkout, retailers can charge varying shipping costs depending on the selected shipping method. 

Trend 4: Flexibility is key in attracting Gen Z

With people working varying hours in varying locations and the growing popularity of online shopping, consumers are demanding more control over delivery. It all comes down to convenience and hence Gen Z shoppers are a big fan of alternative delivery methods. 

For example, over a third (37%) of Gen Z consumers would like to use a smart locker to receive a parcel, compared to only 10% of the over 50s generation. At the same 53% of Gen Z shoppers like to have the option to change the delivery time after dispatch and on top of this, today’s youth likes to see a mix of standard delivery as well as next-day and weekend delivery. It’s all about the choice! 

All in all, Gen Z seems to be driving some significant change in the world of online delivery. 

Free and fast delivery are slowly making way for flexible and sustainable delivery. 

Ultimately, it seems timely for online retailers to review their shipping strategy and invest in flexible delivery. 

Rob van den Heuvel, CEO and Co-founder at Sendcloud