As shoppers 60 and older head online, major retailers and consumer goods brands are scrambling to meet them there.
Early in the pandemic, armed with step-by-step instructions, Joseph Clay committed to buying absolutely everything online.
Texas toast, blueberry waffles and diet root beer are repeat orders, spliced with the occasional addition: skull-shaped bookends, slippers for his partner and one overnight purchase to placate an aching tooth. He gladly shelled out $17.21 for a tube of Anbesol, an over-the-counter pain relieving gel, which Amazon had to him before dawn.
“My youngest daughter shops online constantly, so I called her up and said, ‘Hey, this online shopping thing — how does it work?’” said Clay, 60, a retired engineer in Nashville. “She gave me a quick rundown, and it just blew me out of the water.”
The coronavirus pandemic has reshaped habits and behaviors of even the most resolute shoppers as social distancing became a key line of defense against infection. But one of the most significant and unexpected shifts, experts say, was the almost immediate embrace of online shopping by people in their 60s, 70s and 80s.
As baby boomers move online, retailers and consumer goods brands are scrambling to meet them there with round-the-clock customer service, detailed nutrition information and interactive videos aimed at simplifying e-commerce for the uninitiated. Instacart, the nation’s largest online grocery provider, has created a service that helps older consumers set up accounts, fill their carts and place their first orders. The program has been popular, helping onboard hundreds of thousands of new shoppers.
“There has been a significant increase in consumers over 50 who had never shopped online and are now saying, ‘Oh wow, this is so much easier than I thought,’” said Deborah Weinswig, chief executive of retail consulting firm Coresight Research. “There’s going to be a lot more mixing and matching: ‘Maybe I want to go to the store to squeeze my own vegetables, but I’ll get non-perishables and dry goods delivered.’” [ … ]