Opinion: Generation Z are key to driving  growth in the channel

Generation Z is key to driving growth in the wholesale channel, argues Lucy Goddard

Generation Z (those born after 1995) is set to make up a staggering 24% of the global workforce this year, making this young pool of talent the future of the wholesale channel.

However, to properly embrace this group, wholesalers need to recognise that expectations – inside and outside of work – are different to previous generations. As an industry, we need to understand what motivates them so we can attract and retain the best talent.

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Many wholesalers are also actively pushing for gender diversity in their workforce. This is another area that is critical to the future of our industry and one that needs to be unlocked to aid overall inclusivity.

At Pricecheck, more than 40% of our workforce is female and 43% of our people managers are women. In our warehouse, 22% of our staff are female, but we know we’ve got a long way to go. Workplace diversity is a hot topic, but that also means adding diversity through different backgrounds, and particularly a wide range of ages.

In today’s average workplace, up to five different generations can be represented. We’ve got employees who joined the company in its infancy back in the late 1970s and ’80s. They’re part of our very fabric and we’ve added generations – and often family members – along the way. But wholesalers should also be making a determined effort to engage with those just starting their careers, and this means connecting with Generation Z.

One way we do this is through our joint managing director Debbie Harrison’s role as an entrepreneur in residence at Sheffield Business School.Furthermore, we have a brilliant relationship with local universities in which we take placement students and run a graduate scheme.

Through this, we offer the opportunity to move around our business operations as
this is the kind of variety this new generation expects. We nurture their entrepreneurial skills and give them targets and responsibilities.

Smart technology also drives this generation and as digital natives (those who have never known a world without the internet and mobiles), this appeals hugely. One way we’re attracting them is through the introduction of transformational technology, which allows our teams to work anywhere in the world.

This is a key area that has gained even more importance since the coronavirus pandemic struck.Another method that will help wholesalers appeal to Generation Z is formalising company values and recognising the importance of developing a specific work culture.

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The new generation seek a sense of belonging and want to contribute to something they feel aligned to. Embedding values across the business means young recruits know whether they’ve got synergy before they even apply.If wholesalers can achieve these things they will future-proof their operations and make their companies an attractive proposition to the bright stars of tomorrow.

At Pricecheck, we have managed to implement them and now seek to increase our turnover to £200m by 2025. We’ve harnessed new technologies and ways of working, we’re awash with fresh ideas and our young recruits don’t have any preconceptions about the wholesale industry. They challenge how and why we do things, and they’ve got in-depth product knowledge, which is essential in the fast-moving categories of wholesale. In this ever-changing world, Generation Z will help the wholesale industry to drive growth and innovation.

Lucy Goddard is the head of HR at Pricecheck


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