Shopping has moved online – or has it? Not for everyone, it turns out. If your customers are over a certain age – think baby boomers and older – many may be less interested in your latest app. So how can you encourage older customers to try your online store? The answer is to use customer messaging technology to bridge the gap between the old shopping experience and the new.
Why Many Seniors Prefer Shopping In-Store
The latest research shows that only 28% of seniors prefer online shopping, which suggests many seniors still enjoy shopping in a store. The 'offline experience' offers certain advantages such as:
- Being able to see, touch, and try on items so you know what they're really like
- Getting your shopping instantly – no waiting around for delivery
- Shopping with friends and family in-store to enjoy a social experience
- Getting help with shopping from a customer service representative
What is most clear is that people still value personal interaction when they're shopping. In fact, nearly three-quarters of shoppers value customer experience over price when making purchase decisions.
While ecommerce providers can replicate some of the in-store experience by providing overnight or same-day delivery, and making it easy to return items people don't want, it's the human interaction that's most lacking. That's a problem when 75% of people want more human interaction, not less.
That's what online retailers have to recreate if they want consumers to feel connected to their brand and consider shopping online. Private messaging apps are an excellent way to do that.
The Private Messaging App Landscape
Which customer messaging apps should you use? That depends. If you're operating in China, WeChat is the market leader, used by 1 billion people. Facebook Messenger has 1.3 billion users worldwide, and leads the US market with 126.3 million users. WhatsApp is the unquestionable global market leader.
WhatsApp usage crosses age groups. In the US, 23% of its users are over 50. As a comparison, Statista shows that in the UK, 42% of those aged 55-64 , and 34% of those aged 65-75 use WhatsApp. So, you can't ignore WhatsApp to communicate with your older customers.
How Customer Messaging Apps Can Bring Seniors to Online Stores
As well as creating a great user experience, private messaging apps work for brands because people respond to your messages. The open rate is as high as 80%. Compare that with the average email open rate of 20.8%, and it's clear that messaging is a much better way to reach your customers.
You can use private messaging apps like WhatsApp to:
- Give those who need help to make purchases by using chat to guide them through the purchase process, just as a sales assistant might do in-store
- Improve customer service by using two-way messaging and even photos to resolve service issues quickly
- Provide timely notifications for deliveries to which the customer can easily reply when there's a problem
- Respond to customers' queries in a private, real-time conversation, rather than in public on social media
- Help customers reach you easily when they need to modify existing orders — or add new orders
Building Trust and Connection with WhatsApp Business
A central way to deliver great service, and be able to understand your customers better, is to use the WhatsApp Business API. Since WhatsApp is an app that even your older customers are already using, there's no learning curve for them when you use it to interact with your business.
WhatsApp Business makes it easy for you to:
- Help build trust with your customers across all age groups by sending secure messages, as all WhatsApp chats are encrypted. This is important as AARP data shows people aged 50-64 are more likely than other age groups to be concerned about privacy
- Reassure customers that you're who you say you are with a verified business profile. Again, this helps your customers to trust you
- Have a two-way conversation with your customers, getting to know them as individuals instead of simply broadcasting information on public channels like social media or mass emails. Not only is this good for personalization, but it gives older customers that personal interaction they crave
- Use the channel most people prefer for communication. Across all generations, private messaging apps are the preferred way to talk to businesses
- Send product photos of items and labels, so customers get up-close product information they'd get from an in-store visit
- Check in with customers after orders, deliveries, or returns to get feedback and enhance that brand experience
Using private messaging apps can give older customers that personal interaction they value, making it easy for them to connect with you and trust you. That can help bridge the gap between offline and online purchases, providing a better customer experience, and achieving more sales.