How Product Data Became the Most Important Factor in Elder-Friendly Ecommerce
Users over 60 years old are usually written off as tech-phobic. This demographic has rarely been the focus of online marketing campaigns, and even those who are trying to reach them are convinced that social media and ecommerce aren’t channels connected to that world.
This isn’t 2000, however. Seniors who were uninterested in digital adoption 20 years ago have aged up, and professionals whose adult lives have been completely defined by computers and cellphones are now included in this group. In 2000, 14% of those 65 and older were internet users. By 2017, that number had climbed to 73%.
As this population continues to grow in coming years, the elder adoption of ecommerce, in particular, will have a significant impact on the market.
While it’s no longer true that seniors are “inaccessible” to marketers online, it is true that this demographic has different expectations and needs. Much of the tech adoption by older adults, for example, has been driven by wearable medical technology. Specific mobile devices, too, are now designed with elders in mind.
In ecommerce, elder consumers still look a lot like younger consumers. There are, however, a few key differences, and they all come down to one essential brand activity: elder-focused product data management.
Product data, or everything from product names and descriptions to enriched photos and product guides, are used to optimize product listing visibility and ecommerce conversion rates. Continue reading to learn how product data specifically impacts user experience (UX) and customer experience (CX) for an elder audience in ecommerce.
User Experience (UX) for Elder Users
User experience is how web design supports what users are looking to do on a website. Buttons, images and the overall layout of a site must be easy and completely intuitive to use. Good UX has to predict what the user will want to navigate to and when based on how that brand makes them feel in the moment.
Elder users have some unique needs when navigating the web. Much of what they “want” (in terms of products) will remain the same as other groups. The buying experience, however, has to shift for an older target audience.
Specifically, audio-visual-rich product data becomes more important for an older audience.
Though the assumption has been that product videos and enriched photos are less user-friendly for older users, this rich product data actually mitigates one of the key differences between seniors and younger demographics: the preference for brick-and-mortar shopping.
Older shoppers still prefer to touch or try an item before buying, and enriched product media has helped close that gap.
New technologies like augmented reality (AR) and 3D photos along with enriched product images and videos have made online shopping a more stable experience for older consumers. It inspires more confidence than it did before, because immersive technologies are letting them experience products in a near-physical way.
UX optimized for elders also presents essential product data (like product specifications) as clearly as possible. This audience wants information upfront and has little patience for any friction in finding it. This is true for every user, but especially for those 60 and older.
Optimizing UX for an elder audience means understanding these soft character traits. These are the hard-to-measure tendencies that now mean new opportunities for brands. For example, focusing resources on building a better library of enriched product data with photos and videos will be important for conversions and also provide greater brand reputation building for this audience.
Once a brand has product data optimized for this “give-it-to-me-straight” audience who needs listings more visually enriched, UX is just a matter of building websites in a user-friendly way for elders. Tips for elder-friendly website UX include:
- Avoid small fonts and make it easy to adjust font sizes, if possible
- Ensure high contrast between colors used on the site
- Simplify any forms with autocomplete and autocorrect functions
- Optimize absolutely everything for tablets and mobile
The Role of Product Information in Elder-Friendly UX
Product information has to tell people what they’re buying. The “essential” product data like SKUs and product names are required for basic navigation of marketplaces and websites—it’s how people find your products.
Then, it’s the “enriched” product data like photos and product videos that get people to actually convert on those listings.
For some users (usually younger ones), experiencing a product page might include putting on a virtual reality (VR) headset and walking through a virtual showroom. The buyer sees a piece of furniture he likes, then walks around it in the virtual space. He then takes the VR headset off and opens the augmented reality (AR) app on his phone for the same store, finds the couch, then holds his phone up to insert the couch over the view of his living room. He sees how the color bounces off the walls and is pleased that the dimensions fit perfectly into the space.
This cutting-edge immersive experience won’t be what seniors endeavor to. They might not even know about some of the technologies brands offer in their shopping experience.
Instead, this is where product data steps in to make the sale where today’s most immersive technologies won’t.
Elder users want product information, and they want it to be complete information. Product data can be organized, for example, into buyer guides that can be downloaded as a PDF. Those guides can include product specifications, a side-by-side comparison with competing or like items, product care information, and manufacturing information or company data. Organizing this data in a clear and complete way in a buyer guide makes a stronger case for elder audiences than even the most optimized product listing.
While VR headsets might not be sitting on most seniors’ desks waiting to be slipped on, high-quality product images are absolutely a key element for this audience. This type of product data can be further optimized for elders by using minimalist overlays that point to specific features of a product and call out functionalities, details of manufacturing, and more.
Why Is Product Data “Most Important?”
Elder-friendly ecommerce includes a frictionless, information-rich shopping experience. Product data is how brands deliver that.
How, though, is the argument made that this is really the “most important factor” in elder-friendly ecommerce? Marketing, after all, is what gets buyers to a product listing.
Yes and no.
Ads, pay-per-click and content marketing are all viable engines to reach any audience. Based on the way elders search, however, product data quickly takes the lead as the most important factor for elder-friendly ecommerce.
For this audience, Google, Bing and other search engines still reign in how users search for products. Concepts like “social discovery” (browsing social networks for “inspiration” without a specific product in mind, like social media window shopping) are hot for other age groups. For seniors, search engine SEO is still how products are found.
SEO depends on optimized product data to point the right users to the right product pages. If Google has anything less than complete and accurate information about a product, the SEO will be sub-par and opportunities will be missed. SEO strategy, therefore, is woven directly into product data.
There’s website accessibility to factor in, too. The syntax of your product listings and even your backend meta data will make the difference in how a computerized voice reads the content of your page for seeing-impaired users. As consumers age, a growing number struggle with eyesight, especially on computer devices. Screen readers will pick up on every bit of text on a product page and read it aloud. Ensuring that every bit of text on the product page is clear, makes sense, and fits into a logical flow of information is essential.
How to Support Elder-Friendly Customer Experience (CX) in Ecommerce
Building an ecommerce brand starts with identifying the target audience and the best channels to reach them. Elders have long since adopted the internet and are leaping into the new normal of ecommerce at an accelerated rate. The future of ecommerce will include an even greater focus on this demographic as more people age into it.
Whether your brand is specifically targeting an older audience or throwing a wider net that includes this demographic, optimizing your customer experience (CX) starts with something as basic as your product data.
Aggregate and organize your product information. Then, you can optimize it with this audience in mind, especially if it’s a primary audience for you. With product data cleaned up and organized, buyer guides and enriched media will be easy to create and store, and SEO strategy will be easier to implement.
Get started today by checking the effectiveness of keywords on your current website.
Amber Engine is a software company passionate about ecommerce. The company’s fast and simple PIM software gets sellers, distributors and brands to Amazon and other online marketplaces in weeks instead of months and frees up time and resources to allow ecommerce and marketing professionals to create content that inspires modern discovery shoppers.
The following blog was written by guest author Alex Borzo, a content contributor at Amber Engine, a software company passionate about eCommerce. The company’s fast and simple PIM software gets sellers, distributors and brands to Amazon and other online marketplaces in weeks instead of months and frees up time and resources to allow ecommerce and marketing professionals to create content that inspires modern discovery shoppers.