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Dev-Bank Wales MBO


16 August 2021

How Ecommerce Can Connect You with Customers of All Ages

With the pandemic fuelling both an explosion in ecommerce and a much-needed debate on digital inclusion, it’s easy to forget that even before COVID, more than half of people aged 65 and above were already shopping online here in the UK (54% – source). Post-pandemic, those figures will inevitably be higher, confirming what retailers with an eye on their data will have known for quite a while: many so-called ‘silver surfers’ have embraced ecommerce with a relish; and we now live, work and play in a world where five generations view the digital purchasing channel as at least the equal of the bricks-and-mortar shopping experience. 

“More than half of people aged 65+ were already shopping online before COVID” 

2019 was in fact a generational milestone for the retail industry – the year when more than half of people aged 65+ reported that they shopped online. As Digital Marketing magazine noted, “Your senior citizen eCommerce customers look a lot like your millennial shoppers.” And the significance of reaching this tipping point can’t be understated, with three quarters of the UK’s wealth held by over 50s – and spending amongst the over-65s increasing by 60% in 2020 (source).

This customer-preference amongst the UK’s most wealthy demographic won’t revert back offline as lockdown recedes – with a recent survey revealing that 43% of over 55s say they now prefer to purchase their exercise equipment online, even though stores have reopened. In other words, retailers quite literally can’t afford to ignore the ‘older generations’ when planning their ecommerce offering.

Building ‘Generational ecommerce’ into your online offering 

Encouragingly, there are some straightforward steps you can take to build-in online engagement with the more mature demographics:

Analytics. It’s worth investing time and effort in getting to grips with the data available for all your customer segments – not only studying analytics to reveal surprising insights into the trends underlying your online traffic, but also speaking directly with your customers through user research, online surveys and other feedback channels such as chatbots.

Accessibility. Making your site accessible and trustworthy are the key criteria you need to hit when appealing to customers with more life experience under their belt, although this will also help make your brand inclusive to everyone in the community, including those with disabilities. Ecommerce is fast becoming ‘Ecommunity’ as brands become ‘Movements’ and the hashtag becomes a driver of credibility and advocacy. So the more ‘open’ you are, the more traffic, engagements, and word-of-mouth recommendations you’ll receive.

Seeing the world through the eyes of The Customer. Our extensive ecommerce experience has provided insights that really allow you to put yourself in the shoes of your older customers, see the world through their eyes – and create a user experience that’s ‘right’ for them.

We’ve seen, for example, that:

  • Older shoppers tend to spend less time browsing, because ‘they know what they like’ – so structure your selling strategy/site architecture to support this.
  • The older generations are also more likely to follow instructions (written perhaps by a family member) or a clear set of steps to purchase products – so think about the impact any sudden changes you make might have on their ability to navigate your site.
  • It pays dividends to focus on clear page design, obvious calls to action and easy-to-navigate menus and purchase journeys.
  • It also pays to consider how your site works across devices, particularly tablets which are popular among over 55s.

Building trustworthiness from a customer’s first visit or earliest experiences is absolutely key – so provide clear indicators that will create confidence in your online channels: spelling out security credentials, providing clear information on delivery and returns; and offering additional support channels wherever possible (we know that older generations are still likely to turn to phone support rather than engage with online chat forums or correspond through email).

As the older generation grows as a percentage of the population, it’s positive to reflect that ultimately, the ‘universal rules’ of digital engagement – understanding user behaviours and making their journey as seamless and stress-free as possible – apply to Baby Boomers and Gen X as well as those of younger generations. And if you would like more help capturing a wider share of this wealthiest demographic in the UK, take a look at our ecommerce offering, and get in touch directly by emailing or calling +44 (0) 29 2022 8822.


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