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Have older Australians been left out by e-commerce?

As the digital marketplace becomes more and more competitive, a one-size-fits-all approach to customer experience is well and truly outdated. To encourage users to engage with your brand, you need to personalise your website and marketing content, tailoring your efforts to specific sectors and demographics. Yet while there have been countless studies examining the behaviour of millennials for brands targeting younger consumers, research about older generations has fallen by the wayside.

With global e-commerce sales expected to reach $4.5 trillion by 2021, companies that neglect older consumers, intentionally or not, will miss out on huge revenue opportunities. 

To successfully engage this audience, accurate behaviour data is crucial for businesses to understand how older consumers experience the online e-commerce environment, and how this might differ in key ways from younger consumers.

Identifying different audience behaviours

Recent research from Sitback Solutionsfound that older shoppers have different perceptions than younger consumers and may not be engaging in the way brands expect. 

For example, while older consumers may be assumed to value product recommendations from peers, they are 10 per cent less likely to care about customer reviews and word of mouth recommendations than younger generations.

And 98 per cent of older Australians ignore celebrity endorsements, so this isn’t a way to influence purchase decisions either – compared to most millennials who admit to being influenced by a social media content creator.

This means that businesses can’t expect online reviews to influence the purchasing decisions of older consumers and may need to apply more direct strategies to attract this demographic.

Similarly, the presence of chatbots and live chat doesn’t impact whether older consumers decide to make a purchase. With many companies rushing to invest in these technologies and chatbots predicted to power 85 per cent of customer service interactions by 2020, there’s a fundamental disconnect between brand strategy and customer intention. 

While chatbots have their place in support and B2B sales, they’re less important for B2C sales – research shows more functional offers like available refunds and free returns are more likely to influence a purchase.

But as tools like Facebook Messenger allow brands to build out purchase flows for online stores, usage of chatbots is likely to increase in the future. Therefore, for maximum benefit, brands need to focus on making the experience with a chatbot a positive one.

Why is all this behaviour data important? 

According to a 2017 Forrester study, a well-designed interface can boost conversion rates by up to 200 per cent, and a better overall UX design can boost conversion rates by a massive 400 per cent. There’s always room for improvement when it comes to making your UX as accessible as possible.

Supported by in-depth research, any online retailer will benefit from a thorough understanding of audience behaviour and consumer psychology to improve functionality and customer experience. 

It all ties back to the notion of “measure twice, cut once”.  If you take the time to do comprehensive research, understand your key demographics and assess what functionality you need to provide, you’ll spend less time constructing your platform and the final product will be more successful in the long run.

With Statista reporting that 80.8 per cent of Australia’s population currently shops online, and almost a third of Australia’s population aged 50 or above, it’s never been more important for retailers to provide a seamless digital experience for all types of consumers. 

Older consumers are quickly adapting to the digital age and want full autonomy in their online experiences. They want just as much from digital experiences as younger generations and are worthy of consideration for any business with an eCommerce presence. And in the long run, retailers that don’t optimise their UX for all demographics will miss out on huge opportunities for growth and revenue.

Cynthia Tang is senior experience design consultant at Sitback Solutions.

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