Boomers are purchasing more online – are you prepared to win their business?

There are so many ways our collective consumer behavior has changed since the pandemic made its unwelcome entrance into our lives. We’re buying more ice cream and less deodorant, shunning gyms for alternative workouts and using an appalling amount of plastic.

We’re also spending more dollars online. U.S. retail e-commerce sales for the second quarter of 2020 jumped 31.8% from the previous quarter, according to the Commerce Department. They accounted for 16.1% of total retail sales, up from 11.8% in the year’s first quarter.

This trend matches with our own findings from a summer survey of marketers. A little more than half said they experienced an increase in sales from their online stores, and 39% reported an uptick in sales from third-party retailers’ digital stores.

Boomers have gone digital

Baby boomers are among those more fully embracing digital channels – 45% of boomers surveyed by the National Retail Federation (NRF) in the spring said they were shopping online more as a result of the pandemic.

Safety is likely a big driver behind the shift for these consumers, who are roughly between the ages of 55 and 74. In July, Datassential found 82% of boomers reported being fairly cautious since the pandemic began compared with 70% of all respondents. Shopping from home is an ideal option for those with some degree of FOGO (fear of going out).

Optimize your online store experience

With so much competition for these spenders’ dollars, it’s critical to offer a good online customer experience. Make things easy – to navigate your site, to enter purchase details, to read product descriptions, and to speak with a human representative. And ensure your mobile site offers as good an experience as your desktop one does, since 18% of boomers default to smartphones when shopping online.

Also provide options that enable boomers to avoid shipping costs but are convenient and feel safe. The NRF found that two-thirds of surveyed boomers had tried buying online for in-store pickup, and of those, 63% said it improved their overall shopping experience. Highlight delivery services you work with like Amazon Prime Now, Shipt, and Instacart, which about half of boomer respondents said they’ve used or are interested in trying out.

Send abandoned-cart emails

Boomers are likely to abandon items during checkout for the same reasons as other shoppers. Maybe the shipping costs are too high or delivery time is too slow. Maybe they just had second thoughts about the quality or price of an item.

You can boost your chances of making a sale by sending automated follow-up emails with compelling content. Consider including an image of the abandoned item with testimonials about it or a code to get free shipping. If you offer the option to buy online for in-store pickup or third-party delivery, remind customers of those options and their benefits. You can also send an email that makes it simple to connect with a representative.

Adding a degree of personalization, like referring to a customer by name or sending the email at a preferred time, can also improve conversion.

While it’s not clear which coronavirus-era behavioral changes will stick (thankfully, we’re not hoarding toilet paper anymore), offering boomers a good website and email experience can increase the likelihood they’ll be loyal in the new normal and beyond.

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