Four Ways to Optimise Your E-Commerce Store for Older Shoppers

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By Published On: March 17, 20200 Comments

For the elderly who are unable to leave their homes, for COVID-19 quarantine reasons or others, they may have to rely on online shopping. But is your site easy to understand for this demographic? Here's how you can optimise your site for the older shopper.

Yesterday, Woolworths announced it would be dedicating an hour a fay for elderly shoppers, so they can prepare themselves with the essentials in wake of the virus outbreak. Coles also announced it would hold off its online deliveries for all, with the exception of the elderly and vulnerable.

According to the Power Retail Shopper Profile Report on Health and Beauty shoppers, the older demographic (ages from 50 and above) make up 21 percent of  Australian shoppers. As such, they are a significant group that retailers may sometimes ignore.

In the state of the virus outbreak worldwide, there have been stockpiling issues. Woolworths, in an effort to reduce the stress for older shoppers, have been allocated a dedicate time for them to grab what they need. From March 17th at 7-8 am until at least Friday, those with a government-issued concession card can access the supermarket shelves.

“The move has been prompted by the unprecedented demand in supermarkets over the past week, which has seen many elderly and vulnerable people in the community missing out on vital items they may need when they shop,” said Woolworths in a statement.

“While we’ll continue to do our very best to restock our stores during this period of unprecedented demand, we know many of our elderly customers have been missing out on essential items when they shop,” explained Claire Peters, MD of Woolworths Supermarkets. “This temporary measure will give them, and those with a disability, the opportunity to shop before our stores officially open – helping them obtain the essential items they need most in a less crowded environment.”

So, what about online? How are e-commerce platforms helping those in need? Moin Shaikh, the Senior Web Analyst for E-Commerce at Intesols Australia, offers his best practice tips for optimising an e-commerce site for the older shopper.

  1. Make your site accessible

    “Elders and people with visual or hearing impairments rely on Assistive Technology (AT) such as screen readers, text readers, screen magnification software, single switch entry devices etc. to browse the internet as these tools provide greater ease and comfort to them. However, if the given website isn’t accessible to these devices, then these assistive tools cannot serve the purpose and as a result, elders and people with disability are left excluded from the greater advantages internet and e-commerce offers,” Shaikh suggested. “Hence, it is very critical that online retail merchants create and cater accessible web experience to people, especially elders in these challenging times.”

  2. Leverage automation and AI

    “Imagine a large number of customers placing orders on your site, and then are met with sad order cancellation notification emails later because you do not have stock to fulfil the order,” said Shaikh. “To avoid this happening to your online store, leverage automation and advanced, predictive analytics that help you get the future picture in the moment. Tools such as Predictive Analytics and Real-time Stock Inventory System can help you keep track of where your business and stocks are headed and help you balance the demand-supply ratio for your online store.”

  3. Don’t make me wait: speed equals satisfaction

    “During such unusual times when online buying is witnessing a sudden spike, it is essential to make sure that your site loads quickly. A study by Google found that the probability of bounce (your website visitor leaving your site after visiting just one web page) increases by 32 percent as page load time goes from one second to three seconds,” Shaikh explained. “This clearly speaks volume about why speed matters for your website. That is why it is imperative to invest resources in optimising your website to load faster, especially on mobile devices since the majority of your shoppers are on mobile these days. Remember, people are impatient. Your potential buyers won’t wait for your slow website to load fully on their mobile. They’ll simply move one to another retailer.”

  4. Invest in cybersecurity to keep hackers away

    “With a large number of people being driven by panic-buying impulse, hackers are likely to get into action with an unprecedented opportunity to break-in to your website/server and steal your buyers’ sensitive info, such as credit card details,” Shaikh explained.

To keep your site safe, Shaik suggests the following steps:
→ Host your site and databases on reputed, secured servers.
→ Make sure to use advanced encryption technology to keep your buyers’ vital data safe and secure from getting into unauthorised hands.
→ Use an SSL certificate.
→ Keep your systems updated.
→ Keep your team trained.
→ Educate your customers to use strong passwords.
→ Leverage cloud for optimal safety and performance of your site and the data.

“In times like this when people are advised to practice social distance and avoid going to crowded places such as retail stores, turning to online shopping is likely to be the only option for everyone and anyone needing to buy stuff for their daily needs,” Shaikh said. “From buying groceries to gadgets, every individual these days prefers (or is forced to prefer) buying online. However, this is easier said than done on the elders’ side since they aren’t much acquainted or comfortable with online shopping.”

We’re living in tough and uncertain times. As the community drives together and works to create a solid support group, it’s important we all look out for each other. Even the smallest changes can help ease the stress of online shoppers.

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About the Author: Power Retail

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  1. John Debrincat March 17, 2020 at 11:22 AM - Reply

    Power Retail I would hate to think that ecommerce providers and developers would take advantage of this situation by recommending to merchants measures that are not really needed. Most modern websites are W3C WCAG meaning that they support accessibility services. Most are hosted in the cloud. Most are security services compliant for issues such as PCI DSS. Most have reasonable stock management and automation.
    Most people over 50 know how to shop online and need little assistance. The types of issue such as accessibility have always existed and are not predominately focused on older buyers. In fact it could be an insult even to suggest it to some.
    I agree that merchants need to review these issues but there are more pressing problems for them right now. Those that source overseas stock are probably starting to run low, shipping around Australia will most likely experience delays and overseas is already virtually impossible.
    It is a great time to support Australian companies to find local suppliers and partners.
    The global supply chain is not going to melt down but it will experience some road blocks for the next 6 months. Now is a time to look at your opportunities online that don’t mean drop shipping a product from China that you have never seen.
    Maybe we as an industry need to focus on what we can do to help and not technical non-issues.

    • Ally Feiam March 17, 2020 at 12:29 PM - Reply

      Hi John,
      Thanks for your comment. It’s an interesting time we’re living in at the moment. I appreciate what you’re saying, and I agree that optimising for accessibility is something that needs to be handled, not just now, but always. Currently, it’s essential, as with all best practice, that retailers ensure they cater to all demographics, not just those who are digitally-savvy.
      It’s true that this article won’t apply to some, but in these uncertain times, it’s important that online retailers optimise their sites to the best they can be in order to take the strain of the coming weeks. We have written other articles, which you can find on the Power Retail site, that discuss enlisting a local supply chain rather than relying on overseas. Power Retail is here to support SMEs across Australia, as we know how hard these businesses may be hit over the coming months. There are plenty of issues that the world needs to try and grasp, this is simply one of them. We’re here to ensure that every online retailer is staying informed and up to date. Thanks again for your feedback.

      Regards, the Editor.

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