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Study: More Boomers Shopping Internationally, but They Prefer a Localized Online Experience

Cross Border Commerce
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When it comes to cross-border ecommerce, one size emphatically does not fit all. COVID-19 spurred huge growth in the number of consumers buying online from brands outside their home country. Retail TouchPoints has an exclusive first look at new data from a study by eShopWorld (ESW) which shows that depending on their age, consumers have different priorities and expectations for their global ecommerce experience.

Baby Boomers (aged 57 to 75) tend to look for fundamental best practices like the use of local language and currency, compared to younger shoppers who are more likely to consider factors such as buy now, pay later options or customer reviews, according to the ESW study, which was conducted by Savanta.

Despite the differences, there are some similarities that bridge the Generation Gap. Clothing was the most popular product category for both older and younger shoppers, with 72% of shoppers aged 57 to 75 who had made a purchase from an international ecommerce site over the past six months saying they bought apparel. The percentage for those 40 and under was even higher, at 91%.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed more consumers of all ages toward online shopping,” said Tommy Kelly, CEO of eShopWorld in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Now that most Boomers have been exposed to this new way of shopping, they have realized they can easily access international brands and products online that they might not have been familiar with pre-pandemic. Younger generations were more apt to have already been in the know about popular international brands. Many more Boomers now understand the appeal of participating in international ecommerce.

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Boomers are ‘Goal-Centric Shoppers’ Drawn to the Familiar

When shopping cross-border, 43% of Boomers said they prefer that websites present information in their own local language (versus 31% of shoppers 40 and under), and 39% prefer to be shown prices in their own local currency (versus 31% of younger shoppers). For these reasons, many Boomers are drawn to marketplaces, where they are likely to find a familiar, comfortable shopping experience, said Kelly. Retailers and brands looking to capture international spend from this age group should prioritize localized features.

Boomers also are more comfortable using traditional payment methods like credit or debit cards, with only 3% of respondents from that age group saying they had taken advantage of buy now, pay later options, compared to 12% of shoppers under age 40. Additionally, only 9% of Boomers said they were likely to be swayed by referrals or positive ratings when shopping international brands, compared to 18% of younger shoppers.

Boomers often tend to be goal-centric shoppers who value transparency and familiarity when shopping online,” said Kelly. “Compared with younger shoppers, they are more interested in shopping online from sites that present information and prices in their own language and currency, and that offer clear refund policies and familiar payment options. Younger consumers tend to be more curious about what others think about a brand or product. These generational differences result in two different research processes when it comes to shopping internationally cross-border.”

Lower Costs, Unique Products are a Draw for Shoppers of All Ages

Some elements of the cross-border shopping experience apply to virtually all demographics, albeit to varying degrees. Lower cost comes in as the biggest draw for all age groups.

“Younger, digitally native shoppers also prioritize lower cost, but a larger percentage of Boomers (42%) than younger shoppers (32%) say it is important,” said Kelly. “Both groups also prioritize unique products that they can’t find locally, and past satisfaction with a shopping experience, but, again, larger proportions of Boomers versus younger shoppers say these factors are important when shopping cross-border.”

For both the Boomer and 40-and-under age groups, 27% of shoppers said that satisfaction with a previous shopping experience was a major concern.

Bottom line for retailers looking to capture cross-border sales? Cater to your target segment.

“Being aware of these generational differences and offering Boomers a cross-border ecommerce experience that caters to their specific preferences and needs ensures brands can create long-lasting, fruitful relationships that might be lost if they allow marketplaces to engage these loyal shoppers,” said Kelly.

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