Restrictions might be easing, but COVID-19 continues to permeate into every aspect of human life. The shopping experience is no exception to this rule, with the ongoing crisis transforming traditional shopping habits and forcing older demographics out of their comfort zone. In light of this – with many people focusing on online services – digital eCommerce specialist, Kooomo, says that now is the time for retailers to assess the accessibility of their eCommerce sites.
According to a recent IMRG webinar, online retailers are witnessing greater engagement from older demographics than ever before. This increased use of online services comes about as advice on cocooning comes into play, with extra measures being taken to ensure the safety of more vulnerable age groups. Many supermarkets and grocery providers are even asking that younger, healthier generations reserve online shopping for older demographics who are unable to get to the shops.
That being said, as millennials are the primary online consumers, older generations may not be accustomed to this new way of shopping. Alone and Age Action – a support group for older generations – recently reported a significant increase in calls during the pandemic from elderly people who are not confident enough to do their food shop online.
Ciaran Bollard, CEO of Kooomo says, “Now more than ever, retailers must look at how they can improve the online User Experience (UX) and cater to those who have a different set of physiological and cognitive needs. As the dust settles and online services become the new norm, retailers must take extra care to meet the needs of all and support older demographics during this difficult time.”
Accordingly, Kooomo outlines the following tips for retailers looking to make their eCommerce sites accessible for all:
1. Initial research
A good place to start is to look at websites that are typically used by older generations. For example, retirement or nursing home websites or lifestyle websites are almost always aimed at this age group. You will find they address all the key areas that may cause difficulty for the older generation.
2. Language and online functions
Older generations might not be accustomed to new-found vocabulary or online functions, so it is important to bear in mind that greater clarity and education will assist their experience greatly. Issues with understanding language have been known to create characteristics in the elderly such as a lack of confidence and a likelihood to read all the information they are presented with. With a lack of confidence, comes a desire to read the fine print.
Cut out all the unnecessary fluff and present only the important information in the simplest of terms. Remember, some language might be unfamiliar to older demographics, so it may be helpful to install a mechanism that explains words that cannot be simplified further. For example, hovering the mouse over certain words for an explanation is an easy way to gain greater clarity.
3. Memory driven patterns
‘Breadcrumb’ style navigation can support users with poor short-term memory, especially if you have a large site with numerous categories of stock. This is because it offers users a way to trace the path back to their original landing point. As previously mentioned, there are some functions that tend to change with age and the right navigation can work to accommodate such changes.
To cater to the needs of all, retailers must also improve areas that require precision such as mouse clicks and scrolling. Ensure users have the ability to choose between scrolling from the mouse and the keyboard and make manual scrolling large enough to control with ease. It is small additions like this that make a vast difference to the UX.
5. Error messages
Error messages can disrupt and concern even the savviest users. Where gaps occur on your site, ensure that the error message is clear and offers a transparent course of action to amend this issue swiftly. Take out 404 errors, for example, as older users may not know what this is or what to do when they see one. It is your responsibility to ensure all users can successfully move on from this page, but not away from your overall site.
6. Pop-ups and data collection
Reduce the frequency of pop-ups on your website and ensure you can get rid of them with ease. According to a recent study, any moving, blinking, or scrolling information that starts automatically or lasts more than five seconds should be easily hidden by the user unless the message involved is absolutely essential. This will reduce the chance of frustration and abandonment, thereby improving the UX for all.
Bollard concludes: “As more people move online and audiences diversify, now is the time for retailers to assess their website demographics and make the online shopping experience more accessible for all. The chances are that the people who are making decisions about your online presence are not from the 65+ demographic, so continue to test your website and broaden your range. Taking action as a result of feedback will produce websites that cater better to your audiences. This, in turn, will lead to better customer experience, returning customers and increased sales.”