If 25% people aged 65 and above shopped online in 2012, by 2018 that number had become 45%.
COVID-19 changed it even more and now, according to Google, a major chunk of the senior population spends at least 6 hours online everyday and owns an average of five devices.
So in this piece, we outline the 11 most important aspects we’ve seen deserving of attention when it comes to optimizing an eCommerce storefront for senior shoppers.
1. Avoid hidden menus
In terms of navigation, senior online shoppers are looking for ease and discoverability.
Hidden menus and hamburger menus tend to make them spend more time hunting down for categories and sub-categories, leading to increased frustration.
Easy-to-spot dropdown menus with visual cues like arrows to ascertain discoverability.
Here’s how activewear brand Lagatta, whose target audience is older women, gets this right.
Need to read more? Here's Boost conversions with the right Navigation Menu (Ideas + Examples)
2. Create cognitive ease (through linear information & visual flow)
What may seem apparent to younger shoppers, isn’t so for older buyers.
For example, while a young millennial might make complete sense of a column of clickable anchor pictures followed by a banner on a sitewide sale, an older shopper might get confused.
The idea then is to keep information, both textual and visual, as linear and simple as possible.
Costco ensures this in a number of ways:
- They keep the navigation menu easy to understand
Notice how in the example below, the “shop” mentioned next to the hamburger menu helps discoverability.
- They offer step-by-step instructions to make content accessible
Here are a few snapshots from their pet medication page, which offers clear distinction so that medical terminologies are clearly understood.
They’ve also listed medication based on the letter it starts with, to aid easy sorting and choosing.
3. Pay close attention to color, contrast & font (for improved visibility)
Research shows that between the age of 25 and 60, people’s ability to view and use websites declines by about 0.8% every year.
This makes it necessary for you to alter the color and contrast of your eCommerce storefront in ways that increase usability.
- For color:
Remember that from the point of usability, seniors resonate with color play only when it is supported clearly by text.
So let’s say you want them to NOT TAKE AN ACTION.
In this case, you’ll have to color code and support it with the right message.
In our example, Seniority tells a shopper WHAT THEY NEED TO DO EXACTLY, the color green giving the go-ahead to click “here”.
- For contrast:
While the minimum recommended contrast between text color and background color is 4.5:1, for senior shoppers, it might be good to notch it up a bit and pin it at 7.0:1.
- For fonts:
Big fonts that can also be customized is one way you can create better visibility for the vision impaired.
4. Focus on micro-copy to highlight benefits (& ask for information)
Covid-19 ensured seniors aged 65 and above spent 49% more in online transactions than the year before.
But despite this shift, senior shoppers tend to be looking for the same big reason to shop at one place over another: Trust.
While building your eCommerce storefront to be senior-friendly, you’ll have to ensure the microcopy you use is able to build this trust.
Here’s a look at some microcopy from AgingCare:
Notice how the brand takes care to offer in-depth detail about the product.
In a slightly smaller font, it also talks about what AgingCare does and how it’s a participant in the Amazon Associates Program to convey integrity.
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5. Navigational breadcrumbs can offer better contextual orientation
One of the pressing difficulties that senior shoppers experience is short-term memory.
This can impede them from precisely remembering what they’re doing within the pages of a particular category and how to make their way back to “home”.
Navigational breadcrumbs, in enough detail, can offer them ongoing context about where they are on your site.
Senior.com ensures they have breadcrumbs throughout their website.
6. Highlight all important assistance links & icons
It’s one thing to have a website with no assistance resources and quite another if the shopper does not know that the website does have such resources.
While a young millennial shopper may instantly recognize the chat symbol on the live chat button, a senior shopper might struggle if it’s not spelt out.
Seniority, for example, doesn’t just offer the live chat icon.
They ask the question – “How may I help you today?” – alongside.
ElderStore, on the other hand, drives the focus of shoppers towards their customer support number (notice the language they use to communicate: Talk to a REAL person):
7. Prioritize established payment methods (more than new options)
Senior shoppers, though more adept at online shopping now than before, don’t easily trust payment methods – unless they’ve used them before or heard of them from trustworthy sources.
So while younger shoppers may convert more easily when they’re offered more payment options, older buyers tend to look out for familiar and recommended methods.
Ensure to bring in payment via banks and Paypal and in case you have enough scale, then COD as well (26% shoppers aged 65 and older were still preferring cash to pay in and around the pandemic.)
8. Make accessibility a priority in your UX design
Since disability (visual, cognitive and otherwise) is a given among many senior shoppers, designing your eCommerce store for accessibility becomes crucial.
Here are a few to-dos when you’re trying to prioritize accessibility:
- Ensure links are identifiable and clickable.
This way shoppers who use screen readers would know how to navigate.
For this to happen, the site’s markup language will need to label links by using native HTML language appropriately.
- Label links consistently across the site.
This becomes vital for shoppers using screen readers to distinguish between link destinations. For example, if you tag a link as “women’s apparel” at one place and
“women’s clothing” at another, while both are supposed to lead to the same destination, this can be confusing.
- Optimize for a 44x44 pixel clickable area
According to the web accessibility guidelines, this ensures any CTA button is clickable without older shoppers needing to be too precise.
9. Limit pop-ups & other distractions
Most senior shoppers love a sense of familiarity and security while they’re on their browsing and purchase journey.
In short, they like to be on the page they CHOSE to come to unless they CHOOSE to go to another page out of their own volition.
Pop-ups and icons expanding on their own with messages can be distracting from this point of view.
What you can do instead:
Especially if you were thinking a pop-up could help you seek feedback or offer a discount – do it through a sticky clickable icon, which allows the shopper to be in control.
Here’s an example from Senior.com.
Once the sticky icon is clicked, it expands into a box asking for more personal information.
Dive in deeper with: Make your mobile payment page “conversion-friendly” (13 UX hacks)
10. Leverage error messages to offer next steps
The last thing you want is your senior shoppers panicking after they see an error message or not knowing what to do next.
Confusion can often be a big reason for older shoppers dropping off an eCommerce site – and to avoid that, you’ll have to find ways to leverage your error messages to:
- Help them discover more of your products
- Tell them how to get back to the homepage
- Explain what the error means and how they can proceed next
Here’s an example you could take inspiration from:
11. Make your forms super easy to fill
The longer it takes older shoppers to navigate through the various steps in browsing or purchasing, the likelier it becomes for them to jump off.
This is the reason why designing forms will need extra attention from your side.
Here are a few steps that are non-negotiable:
- Limit the number of form fields.
If the customer’s address is not necessary for the action, don’t have separate fields for it.
- Optimize form fields for mobile usage.
Make your form fields large (so that they are touch error tolerant) and have enough space between the fields.
- Use in-line validation to drive attention to invalid inputs
Alongside, offer error messages to ensure the shopper knows when to edit the information they’ve entered.
This is how succinct liveWELL manages to keep their preliminary homepage form:
Here's a super helpful read: Low form conversions? Making any of these 10 mistakes?