An excellent article in a recent issue of Internet Retailer, titled Generation Buy, made some interesting observations on selling online to consumers in the 56-to-64-year-old age range. What caught my attention were two key differences in this age group:
1. While 56-to-64-year-olds were more likely to order online than any other age group, they were also more likely to call with questions in advance of ordering.
2. Molly Siemers, director of product management at Alibris.com, noted the different reactions from older and younger buyers when things go wrong online. “If something goes wrong, [a younger shopper] is going to blame the site and assume he is doing everything right,” she remarked. “An older consumer who encounters a problem is going to think he is doing something wrong.” That sure rang true for me!
What do these factors mean for the online merchant?
For one, anything that builds trust will help your 55+ buyers make their way to and through your shopping cart. Ratings and reviews matter more to 56-to-64-year-olds than any other age group, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. In addition, testimonials, prominent guarantees, privacy policies, and trust seals all help build customer confidence.
Make sure your error messages help your customer get to the next step, rather than leave them confused. For instance, don’t say “Incomplete information” or “Please fill in this form completely” if buyers omit information on your order form. Highlight exactly what information is missing. Make it crystal clear how to apply coupon codes. Display your phone number prominently on every page, and encourage buyers to call if they need help.
Those 55 and over may already be your best buyers, but with a little reassurance and customer service, they turn out to be even better buyers.