Defining what the average retailer looks like these days is an impossible task. The shift and dynamic of online seems to change on a regular pattern, with the market exploding to a point where everyone needs an online presence to expand your business. But what if your audience is not necessarily active in that space?
For most retailers, it makes perfect sense to drive consumers to the website. Bricks and Mortar stores are restricted by location, footfall and trading hours. Bottom line costs soar as rent, commodities and staffing eat away at profit margins. Just one look at most shopping high streets in the UK show that all is not well and that the need to turn clicks and bricks into pounds is vital, most certainly when up against the likes of Amazon et al.
For most retailers, the “connected” lifestyle has made this transition seamless. Some retailers have seen online profits soar above revenue from traditional bricks and mortar stores. But why?
Well, from research these stores all seem to have one thing in common. A younger audience demographic.
Marketers are still struggling to convince the older generation to use E-commerce functionality or even just visit their website. No-one has found the perfect solution yet, but the time to act and influence is now.
So let’s explore what we know about the older generation
There is a huge difference between the online behaviours of someone who is 50 and someone who is 65 years old. This means that we cannot place everyone above 50 in a segment that can be marketed to the same way. Predominantly, a user at 50 will be far more web savvy than someone at 65, it isn’t always the case, however they are far more likely to convert to a “connected” way of life.
These so-called “baby boomers” don’t like to, and can’t be stereotyped. The market is large, diverse and too complex to segment into one despite what other marketers would want you to think). These consumers are experienced shoppers and are just as likely to change shopping habits, brands, and suppliers as younger customers if their needs aren’t being met. It may take a little persuasion though.
We know that online shopping has started to draw these users online, let’s explore ways to make sure your brand reaches the maximum audience in this demographic.
Behaviour by age
Most companies search engine marketing efforts are focused on Google. For those with an older target audience you are going to have to rethink your strategy. There is a clear shift in search engine choice between the ages 35-44 and 45-54. So if you are spending all of your budgets on Google you may be shouting into a black void and reaching only a small percentage of your audience. As the below outlines, the difference of user in preferring to use Google, Bing or Yahoo is substantial. Why spend money advertising to a market that isn’t even there?
Although search volumes may be lower on Bing and Yahoo it is important to include these within any marketing activities.
There are a number of “go to“ community sites that cater specifically for the over 50’s. In the last 6 months silversurfers.com received approximately 102,000 visitors. With advertising opportunities available this is a perfect way to have real estate where these users frequent.
The older generation didn’t grow up with technology and for some, it is still considered new and risky. Since the introduction of debit cards, we have always been told not to disclose card details. This means web design trends will have to incorporate different messaging to trigger the sales funnel. A clear focus on confidence banners, security and even functionality such as live chat to personalize the site experience are great ways to make that persona of the customer to feel at ease.
What have retailers done to encourage online shopping
In 2014 Marketing Week classed the over 50s demographic as discount divas, with 42% of of their fashion spend allocated to discounted items. Office leveraged on this with online exclusive sales as early as 2009 to drive customers online.
One of the main resisters to shopping online is the lack of engagement with a product. Being able to touch, manipulate and try-on an item. Although ASOS has a much younger audience the same principle can be applied to any website in order to increase engagement and increase conversion rates.
The introduction of the ASOS catwalk allows users to see clothes being worn instead of on a blank white background.
High value or considered purchases need more triggers to buy online. Users want to engage with and touch purchases before parting with a lot of money. GoInStore does just that, it allows users to be connected with a shop assistant that, by video stream engages the with the product for you. You can ask them to turn a product round, look at the inside or even compare sizings.
Argos took the plunge into an omnichannel experience in 2014 paving the way to a shopping habit evolution with its shiny-new-polished digital stores. The change forced users to interact with the brand digitally. Reducing the need for the bulky, printed catalogues. In addition to this, they have focused on the real presence of omnichannel marketing. Embracing both elements of physical and digital - they have come up with a multi-solution fits all solution, that is aimed at convenience to the customer at all times.
How can we drive our customers online?
Firstly, we’re going to have to make sure that we market to our users where THEY visit, on search engines that THEY use and on sites that THEY frequent. For too long, the expectation of brands that ‘we will build it and they will come’ has been in existence, but the consumer really holds the power in this relationship. This will once again drive a need reduce the gap between shopping in store and shopping online. The use of in-store technology to introduce users to the website and help them familiarise with its use, coupled with a wider society use of technology will make this activity to feel like the norm, irrespective of age or gender Another key area that brands should look at is to update your site with functionality and triggers that help build confidence of the user. One thing at Rawnet that we pride ourselves on in our use of producers in the creation of a new website or strategy. The processes they follow in interviewing real world customers and understanding behaviours, are then directly placed into our wireframes and UX journeys to create the best interaction between site and consumer.