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Why retailers need to support the elderly and vulnerable online

With shielding measures expecting to continue in the UK until at least August, online shops need to improve processes and customer experience to support this new category of shoppers: the elderly and vulnerable.

As we enter July and the 4th month of lockdown in the UK, shops are reopening and social distancing measures are being reviewed. Whilst the elderly and most vulnerable have now been advised that they can interact with groups of up to 6 and form a social bubble, many will still remain indoors to avoid shops and will shop online due to the convenience of e-commerce. Therefore, retailers need to support this new demographic of shoppers to ensure they have excellent customer experiences and become lifetime customers.

What are the shopping habits of the elderly and vulnerable?

This group of shoppers traditionally will have bought offline pre-Covid-19. However, the pandemic has forced them to change their shopping habits. Now, many will remain loyal to online even once all restrictions are lifted.

They are very different from your tech-savvy millennials and Gen-Y shoppers. Online shopping is a new concept for many of them and current customer journeys are not built to accommodate them. This will be perhaps the first time they’ve bought their essential goods online and it’s likely that many who fall into this demographic are used to having a carer, friendly neighbour or family member around to help them with all things digital. Therefore retailers need to put measures in place to help them if they want to retain these customers in the long run.

Many elderly and vulnerable people are used to having carers or family help them digitally.

What have retailers done so far to support the elderly and vulnerable during the pandemic?

Many retailers have already invested heavily in helping shoppers during the pandemic. New measures include dedicated in-store shopping hours, a range of alternative delivery options and updates to their websites to make them more user-friendly and easier to navigate.

However, that is just one part of the puzzle. There is a whole other piece to fill the gap to make an easy and enjoyable customer journey: the post-sales communication phase.

What do online retailers need to do to support the elderly and vulnerable further?

Online retailers need to step in and offer the helping hand that these customers might need as they navigate this new process. This includes:

  • The pre-purchase phase to help them find what they need as easily as possible
  • The actual moment of purchase
  • Contact and delivery information

However, most importantly elderly and vulnerable people will want to know, more than anyone, where their parcel is at each stage of the journey and when it is expected to be delivered. This includes any unforeseen delays, especially if it is essential goods.

Communication during delivery is most important

Retailers need to keep in touch with these customers throughout the entire delivery process. They should update them regularly and in real-time on the status of their order. These messages should go straight to the customers’ email inbox or via text message, without them having to navigate a series of complicated web links and pages.

Invest in Operations Experience (OX)

By investing in Operations Experience (OX), retailers can provide the best possible customer experience for their new elderly and vulnerable customers. How can they do this? Take control of communication from third party carriers like DHL and DPD. As a result, retailers can:

  • Send proactive, real-time emails/SMS so customer always knows where their parcel is
  • Communicate in their branding so there’s no confusion about who the order is coming from
  • Navigate customers to a Track & Trace page hosted in their own eco-system so they can easily repurchase

Read more about why retailers should personalise their communication during shipping here:

Go one step further and offer them expert advice and tips on how to use the new product they have just purchased – such as videos, how-to guides or recipe ideas. Feel good content like this helps to build a sense of community, which many will be craving during this period of isolation.

Conclusion

The key message is: Communicate communicate communicate. It’s all about building confidence and reducing the number of customer service enquiries, which are already stretched at this time. By delivering these new or first-time customers an exceptional customer experience and showing them just how straightforward the online shopping experience can be, then you might just change the habits of a lifetime and have them coming back again and again, well after the nationwide lockdown has been lifted.

How can parcelLab help?

parcelLab is the Operations Experience partner. Get in touch to find out how we can help retailers take control of their communication and create end-to-end excellent branded experiences and lifetime customers.


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Katharine About the Author

Katharine

Katharine is Content and Marketing Manager for parcelLab’s London office. An avid shopper, Katharine is passionate about helping retailers understand the importance of efficient post-purchase communications. When she isn’t looking for the latest trends for our blog, Katharine loves discovering new restaurants in London.

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