Gen Zers and their shopping habits are helping reshape the e-commerce industry, transforming it into a social experience that goes beyond mere traditional online shopping. The tech-savvy generation, born and raised in the digital age, is not just interested in making transactions; they crave authentic connections, social responsibility, and personalized experiences from the brands they engage with.
Bulgaria-based Push Marketplace, or as its founders describe it as “social media for clothes”, is a place where users can buy, sell or discover new or second hand clothes.
The platform has also been repeatedly introducing social media-like features for their customers, and with a user base nearing 100K, predominantly comprising monthly active Gen Z users, the goal for the startup is to position itself as the go-to, unique platform in the Balkans and wider Europe.
Unlike conventional e-commerce sites, Push is operating as a social platform, allowing users to interact with products through social media-like interactions. As the startup explains, it incorporates a Tinder-like feature in its admin interface, where products are vetted for authenticity and quality.
“We can see every single product that people are uploading, and we can decide if this one is for our platform, if it is fake, if it is brand new, etc. We also have verification ads, which means that if we see that this product is not fake, and it is original, we ask people for emails, little documents or little things that they have for the product, so we can verify the ad. We are the only platform in the Balkans and probably in the top five in Europe that is doing that,” Ilian Kodzhahristov, CEO of Push Marketplace, tells The Recursive.
It’s all about the shopping journey, not the destination
According to industry experts, what Gen Zers are looking for from e-commerce platforms is the wholesome experience that they’d get from it.
“This digital-native generation leans heavily into online platforms for virtually all their purchasing needs, but they are not just looking for a transactional experience. They seek authenticity and social responsibility from the brands they patronize, often engaging with them through social media channels long before making a purchase. For Gen Z, shopping is a form of self-expression, and they are more likely to buy from businesses that align with their values and aesthetics,” says Valentino Chiavarini, CEO of Green Hive, a platform that connects eco-friendly consumers with brands and organizations.
Furthermore, platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook have become not only sources of inspiration for Gen Zers but also direct avenues for making purchases, blurring the lines between social media engagement and e-commerce transactions.
“Because Gen Z has grown up immersed in technology, they expect businesses to be on top of their digital game with optimized mobile sites, social media shopping (think Tik-Tok Shop and Instagram Shopping), etc,” Oliver Goulden, founder of influencer incubator FounderSix, tells The Recursive.
As Kodzhahristov from Push Marketplace further explains, most Gen Zers are also looking to promote the brands and companies that they are wearing, so this is another functionality that Push aims to develop.
“Probably 80 percent of all of our users are under 25. It’s super young, and we are trying to work with brands in Bulgaria, which are focused on young people. As we grow, we’d also have these young people on our platform promoting various brands – so we’re also a platform where they can promote their stuff,” he tells The Recursive.
More personalization and AI features
For the young Bulgarian entrepreneur, engaging closely with customers and continuously introducing innovative social media-like features, is also what helps social commerce grow into an important branch of e-commerce.
“Thirty-five percent of our users are monthly active users, because we can use all those little tricks that are usually used by social media. We are also going to implement our Tinder functionality for the end customers, so they can say what they like or don’t like, and then we can collect all that data and use it for the same customer,” Kodzhahristov explains.
Push, which recently raised €85K in a pre-seed round led by Innovation Capital and Vitosha Venture Partners, also plans to keep adding novel features to their platform.
“The next one we’re introducing is a rating system. Usually in these kinds of platforms, you can only give ratings to the seller, if you’re a buyer. Now with Push, we’re doing something different so that if you’re a seller, you can still give ratings to the buyer,” Kodzhahristov says.
When it comes to the next big trend for e-commerce, he expects more personalization, as well as increased use of various AI technologies.
“We are also looking for some AI trends that we can put on the platform. But we don’t want to introduce AI just to say that we have introduced AI. We want to be something that our customer needs. We were looking at features that would function like Pinterest – for example say you need clothes for a party or some other event – and then the app gives you a lot of clothes for those types of events. We can introduce something like that – our users can just leave one sentence and we can give them a lot of products.” Kodzhahristov concludes.