The ongoing pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives but perhaps the most impacted has been how we as a nation shop. From our weekly groceries to smart home tech and even furniture, the changes in rules due to lockdowns has led to us having to rely more on online shopping as physical stores were forced to close.
And for some the changes will now be permanent, with well-known high street brands collapsing and being brought back as online only.
‘Many e-commerce sites are yet to consider older shoppers as a viable demographic’
While more and more older customers have embraced the internet and online shopping due to necessity, many brands and e-commerce sites are yet to consider older customers as a viable demographic.
But can brands really afford to ignore any potential shoppers right now? Especially a demographic that, pre-pandemic, was reported to account for £320bn of annual household spending and the over-50s hold over three-quarters of the nation’s financial wealth.
Over 65s are not just one group
The market for 65 plus is constantly changing, not only as older customers adopt technology more readily into their everyday lives, but also as the life experiences of those consumers change and translate into their taste of fashion, footwear and how they style their home.
For example, a customer who grew up with the swinging 1960s as their formative years will have a very different outlook to those that grew up in the 1940s or 1950s, where rationing and being frugal was ingrained into the psyche.
Yet both of these customers fall comfortably within the older shopper demographic.
A lot of research is done every year on the latest fashion trends for younger consumers, or the different styles and tech goods they need, but very few brands are interested in what older consumers are looking for.
So what can brands do to successfully chase this “grey pound”?
It’s so important for any brand that is chasing this demographic to make sure they actually listen to and understand their customer. At Chums, we’ve had 40 years in the industry specifically appealing to older shoppers.
>See also: Building and designing your perfect website
5 ways to make your website more friendly for older customers
Here are 5 tips on how to appeal to the 65-plus shopper:
#1 – Make your website easily readable
An obvious one, but one which many websites are still getting wrong. Font size smaller than 12 point is often hard for users with impaired vision to read, meaning that 12 point should be the minimum default. However, consider having the option to increase the text size to really ensure your website can appeal to all users regardless of age.
And it’s not just the size that matters, your choice of font style is important too. That’s because the small strokes added to the end of a serif letter or symbol can blur in people with deteriorating eyesight, making the text harder to read. So, ditch the Times New Roman in favour of a sans serif type for clarity and impact.
Similarly, you will want to ensure that there is plenty of white space between lines and words to ensure sentences don’t blur into one another.
#2 – Keep the navigation simple
Ditch the hidden menus and drop-down options in favour of a clear, straightforward process. Many older shoppers don’t want to have to navigate a maze of buttons and links just to see another page. Also consider having “previous” and “next” buttons to easily navigate to similar content where possible, such as on your blog page.
Another easy win for making your site navigation more friendly for older shoppers is to have your search box easily accessible, as many older internet users prefer searching directly for what they want. Also, ensure that your site’s design and navigation remain consistent from page to page. In particular, make sure that your search box, print button, and page title are always in the same place.
#3 – Nice-to-haves might be essential for older customers
Today’s senior shoppers grew up in an offline world where customer service meant “face-to-face”. You should keep this in mind when considering potential friction points in a 65-plus shopper’s end to end experience.
What may only be a “value add” for younger shoppers may actually be essential for an older demographic, such as webchats for customers who are hard of hearing or advanced delivery notifications specifying who will be delivering an order and when, deterring unannounced callers.
#4 – Don’t be too fancy with design
Simple designs are often the most appealing to older shoppers, ones which are linear and clearly signposted, almost like a newspaper, because that feels familiar to them. As are sites where users can reach the bottom with only a few scrolls. Websites with infinite scrolling, in which you never reach the “end” of a site’s content can feel overwhelming to older users and turn them away.
Avoid colours that are exceptionally bright, as well as combinations which make content difficult to see such blue and yellow or red and green. And try to increase the contrast of your content — i.e. dark text on light background — but avoid light colours on dark background.
#5 – Reflect your customer back to them
Lastly, consider how an older shopper may connect to your site, not physically but rather emotionally. People respond best to marketing materials which reflect their own gender, age and other demographics. Older shoppers are no exception. So consider incorporating images that reflect the user you want to target; they must still be realistic, yet aspirational.
Paul Gray is marketing director of Chums, a website offering clothing, footwear and homeware to the over-65 market