Vaccination rollout is progressing and the reopening of brick and mortar stores is on the horizon. Having said that, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that the online shopping habits, built in the pandemic, are largely set to continue long term.
42% of UK online shoppers said they expect to shop more digitally post-pandemic vs. just 6% who expected to shop more in-store
However, there is a clear split in the consumer behaviour of the demographics that plan to continue shopping online. The best practice for retailers is in learning about and understanding the shopping patterns and unique needs of the age ranges to cater to each generation authentically.
The baby boomer generation may have been viewed, in the past, as traditional shoppers by the world of eCommerce. However, boomers displayed the largest shift to online shopping since the pandemic started compared to other age demographics, with an increase from 25% to 37% as a whole.
43% of people aged 65 or over have shopped more online in 2020 compared to 2019. Boomers tend to shop online with the brands that they previously shopped with in person.
Retailers should consider how to target boomers to help convince them to continue buying online, as 72% said they value the convenience of shopping online for anything anytime. It is likely that this group will be the most cautious about shopping instore, even after vaccination and will continue to buy online.
eCommerce brands should use customer data and research to analyse this generation’s preferences and patterns so they can cater to them more specifically as a valuable demographic, for instance, by offering them their preferred delivery options at checkout, like click-and-collect.
87% of 55 – 84-year-olds said they were more likely to use laptops or tablets to shop online.
46% of UK consumers have purchased products online during the pandemic that they had previously only ever purchased in store.
Gen X and Millennials
Millennials and Gen Xers are currently the greatest demographic for preferring to shop online versus in a brick-and-mortar store. 82% of both Millennials and Gen X say they plan to spend the same, if not more, online in the first half of this year, compared to last year.
Millennials will soon be the most populous age demographic in the UK and are already becoming dominant in their online purchasing power.
Millennials and Gen X have different shopping behaviour than their older counterparts; for instance, Millennials are more likely to use payment services like buy-now-pay-later. When it comes to customer support channels, Millennials are most likely to opt for online chat.
A huge portion of Generation Z, 76%, say they plan to spend more or the same shopping online the first half of this year as they did in 2020; as this group is coming of age, retailers can’t afford to ignore their buying power.
Gen Z is the smartphone generation and is the most likely group to use a smartphone to shop online, with 48% of 18-24-year-olds saying they prefer to shop on a smartphone compared to desktop or tablet.
As a result of the increased hours that this group spends on mobile compared to other groups, social media plays a more significant role in shopping.
85% of Gen Z use social media to learn about new products and 41% of them say Instagram is their preferred social media platform for following brands.
Millennials and older generations endured all the teething problems of the digital age like slow internet speeds etc.; Gen Z never had these issues and, as a result, have the least amount of patience, and when it comes to sites or apps loading, 62% will also not use an app or website that is hard to navigate. If any group has the highest standards for a seamless experience, it’s Gen Z.
Shoppers of all ages are purchasing more online and are savvier than ever when it comes to seeking the best deals, but age plays a significant role in the range of preferences and online behaviours.
For this reason, brands need to stay on top of ecommerce trends and build strategies to create meaningful customer experiences for each group that compel them to purchase from that brand and return time and time again.