Rise of the silver surfers

This blog explains how there is now a new wave of online shoppers. This new wave of shoppers is part of an elderly demographic who have been heavily influenced by the Coronavirus pandemic. Due to health concerns many of them are not able to leave the house and therefore getting everyday amenities can be difficult. Families and neighbours are pitching in to do their part and help out but not everyone has family or neighbours helping the elderly out or they can’t do it every week. That means this demographic has been forced into shopping online regularly for the first time to get their groceries and other items they need.

This growth in online e-commerce with the elderly is proven even further by ParcelHero who state ‘over 65s spent 94% more on home deliveries this April than they did last year’. This shows how there has been a massive spike in the elderly’s spending online especially since lockdown when the Office of National Statistics said that ‘54% of over 65s shopped online since April’ (from mktg showcase). The issue with targeting an elderly demographic with your business online has been the fact they may not know how to work certain devices to access a website and purchase goods and services online. However, the elderly do have considerable spending power and this is a new consumer base for online shopping.

Now we have highlighted the fact that the elderly demographic has seen a considerable jump in activity, the notion that the elderly don’t use the Internet is now becoming out-dated. An increased amount of the elderly population are using social media and using different apps to be able to see and speak to their families whilst in lockdown. Another factor to consider is that as time goes on you will see more people entering this category who already shop online.

Therefore, as a business, you need to ensure you are considering this demographic in your strategy and ensure you cater to their needs, for the benefit of the elderly and also your business. Some examples of what you can do to help this demographic online are listed below:

– Simplify forms. Experiments have shown that older users struggle to input data into forms where they need to use spaces or brackets in their phone numbers. Make sure forms are clearly labelled

– Show ‘calls to action’ clearly and in large font

– Allow for good contrast between the font colour and the background colour of the page (e.g. use black font on a white page rather than blue on purple)

– Avoid making big changes to your site. It seems to be the case that older users are more likely to keep notes on how to use a website than other age groups. Making big changes to your site just as they get familiar with it can really throw them out of kilter and can mean you potentially losing their custom

– Although you might assume elderly users are less likely to be using a mobile device, there’s some evidence that elderly users are more likely to have a tablet than other age groups.

(adapted from – Commercetools )

Some of the challenges that I have described above are associated with the elderly demographic when they’re using the Internet. This demographic is likely to be slower at using the Internet, have eyesight limitations and read all the information provided etc. Therefore, it is good practise to include some of the older generation when you are testing your website and ensure they are comfortable with your site.



In conclusion, the elderly demographic has become an important factor to consider with your business’s online strategy. The coronavirus has influenced a lot more of this demographic to purchase products and services online and therefore it needs careful consideration. Not every business will suit targeting this demographic, but it is good practise for your website to have a seamless user experience, which is a good strategy to retain this demographic.

A good e-commerce business will understand their demographic and spend time researching this regularly as they can then adapt the site to fit their segment. This is key as well as simplifying areas so that your site is to useable by a wider audience than your target audience so you don’t hinder the option for new customers/segments.

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