While many e-tailers may be focusing on the millennial customer experience, they must be careful not to do this at the expense of silver surfers – who in many cases are less fickle customers and more willing to spend than their younger counterparts. Luke Griffiths, General Manager at Klarna UK, looks at the psychological factors that come into play when older consumers embark on the online shopping journey.
Retailers everywhere are on a mission to crack the millennial market. As digital natives, millennials are the largest group of online shoppers – so it’s not surprising that e-tailers are pouring significant resource and time into appealing to those born in the early 1980s.
But while many merchants may be focusing on cracking the millennial customer experience, they must be careful not to do this at the expense of silver surfers – who in many cases are less fickle customers and more willing to spend than their younger counterparts.
New research conducted by Klarna shows that millennials experience higher levels of anxiety, impulsiveness and impatience than their older counterparts – two thirds (68%) of millennials reported feeling excitement when adding items to their online basket, compared to less than a quarter (24%) of people over 55.
The flip side of this excitement is lows caused by anxiety and guilt, with 52% of millennials saying that they worry that they can’t afford the purchase during checkout. That’s compared to 16% of over 55s, who in many cases will have more disposable income than their younger counterparts – showing there’s a sizeable prize for retailers who get the customer experience for older generations right.
So what must savvy retailers looking to appeal to silver surfers bear in mind?
“Keep calm and carry on” baby boomers
While the millennial customer journey is full of twists and pitfalls, baby boomers are patient, calm, and rational shoppers. They experience low emotional responses, with only 3% of those surveyed feeling guilty when adding things to their basket, and only 5% feeling impatient.
The key for retailers here, then, is to ensure the process is simple and smooth. Older shoppers don’t want unnecessary distractions. To win over this group, retailers should avoid excessive targeting with promotions or flashy marketing.
And while money worries are less of an issue for this generation, they are savvy shoppers who value trust and value for money. The over 55s buy things because they need them – only 21% are more likely to make a spontaneous purchase online because they deserve a treat – so tapping into necessity is key. And over half (52%) of those surveyed said they would reconsider an online purchase due to high delivery charge, so retailers with costly fees should reconsider their charges or face losing custom.
Don’t fall prey to stereotypes
Many retailers, particularly those with an older demographic, may be tempted to simplify their offering for an older generation. However, our survey found that baby boomers had a high degree of online literacy – only 18% of those surveyed had stopped shopping with a retailer because the website was confusing, or they felt too embarrassed to ask for help.
Our survey showed that baby boomers are far more tech literate than many retailers are lead to believe, so e-tailers can rest easy in the knowledge that an older demographic do not want or need special treatment. In fact, any misguided attempts to do so may come across as patronising rather than helpful.
Keep it user-friendly
Baby boomers may be tech literate and more patient, but like any generation, they still value a straightforward and user-friendly online shopping experience. 40% stated losing their web page is the main distraction when completing a purchase, and another 36% of those surveyed said they had abandoned their basket in the past due to a frustrating checkout experience.
While the over 55s surveyed may abide by the “keep calm and carry on” motto, it’s clear their patience will only go so far. This should give retailers the encouragement they need to provide intuitive and straightforward processes, for all generations – showing that speed, efficiency and a simple payment process is key to securing a significant market share.
By Luke Griffiths