My mum is in her mid 80s and as you might imagine not one of the earliest adopters of the Internet. However the pandemic changed all that and I immediately started doing her grocery shopping and lined up a milk man so that she could isolate. Since then however, she has discovered the joy of being able to remain independent and started doing some of her own shopping, but it’s not entirely online – she’s discovered the convenience of click & ring.
My mum isn’t alone, research by global commerce agency 5874 Commerce shows that 63% think that an increased focus on online shopping risks alienating older users or those less comfortable with technology. Only 11% disagreed. A third of respondents believe ensuring accessibility for all shoppers should be retailers’ top priority right now, with only prices seen as significantly more important. Older users are much more likely to click & ring – browse online but pick up the phone to place an order and have any questions answered.
My mum has sorted out her insurance, purchased plants and compost from the local garden centre, ordered fence paint from the DIY shop and a host of other shopping but all of it was completed by telephone. If you’re not offering a phone ordering service then, especially as winter sets in and Christmas approaches, you could be missing out on the grey pound.
From a commercial perspective the impact is pretty clear. 62% of consumers believe brands are losing revenue by not reflecting the need of older shoppers in their ecommerce strategy. According to the ILC, by 2040 older people will be spending 63p in every pound spent in the UK economy – up from 54p in 2018. When it comes to safeguards to protect shoppers less able to use the internet, more than half (54%) believe that local delivery services are essential, with 46% stating that telephone ordering is a must. It also appears there was support for supermarkets offering early access, with a third of people stating preferential access to limited availability products would be important.
And it’s not just older people that like click & ring – Just under half of shoppers (46%) have reported that they use a website in the same way they have used a physical catalogue in the past and then ordered over the phone or in store. It is clear that while an online presence forms a vital part of the buying process, the jigsaw that is the shopping journey continues to extend well beyond the screen.
We know many smaller online sellers hate the phone – many organised their life selling online specifically so they didn’t have to speak to people. This however is likely to prove the wrong strategy if you want to appeal to older shoppers and getting a phone number advertised prominently on your website (with a person actually answering rather than being an answerphone) is essential to make sure you don’t miss out on click & ring shoppers.
“As retailers rush to adapt their online presences to tackle store closures, they need to ensure they’re not forgetting the older demographic at a time when this group needs access to products and services more than ever.
With the Government considering asking over-50s to stay home, there is a real risk of this most vulnerable group being unable to go out and unable to get what they need online. Thinking about the needs of different customers is vital when reviewing a commerce strategy. Considering the whole journey is essential and as needed putting in place those alternatives, including local delivery services and telephone ordering.”
– Rupert Cross, Chief Digital Officer, 5874 Commerce