Why retailers should support elderly and vulnerable people online

Why retailers should support elderly and vulnerable people online
Published on: Sep 5, 2020
Updated: Aug 18, 2022

The stores have reopened, but for many people going to the stores is associated with an increased risk. As the number of new infections is on the rise again, risk groups in particular - and these mainly include older people and those in need of help - should continue to stay indoors to avoid stores. Due to the convenience as well as security of e-commerce, it is advantageous for this target group to shop online. Therefore, retailers need to support this new demographic of shoppers to ensure that they too experience an excellent customer experience and, at best, become customers for life.

What are the shopping habits of older people and those at risk?

This group of shoppers will have traditionally shopped offline before the emergence of Covid-19. However, the pandemic has forced them to adjust their shopping habits, and many of them will remain loyal to online retail even after Corona.

Furthermore, online shopping is a new concept for many of them and they are not yet used to it. It may be their first time buying their essential goods online, and it's likely that many who fall into this demographic are used to having a caregiver, friendly neighbor or family member around to help them with any digital issues or challenges. As a result, online retailers now need to take steps to help them with as well as after their purchase if they also want to retain this group of shoppers in the long term - and they certainly do.

Many elderly and vulnerable people are used to having caregivers or family members assist them with digital challenges.

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

Many retailers have already invested quite a bit to help shoppers during the corona crisis. New measures include, extended return periods, a range of alternative delivery options and updates to their websites to make them more user-friendly and easier to navigate.

But that's only one piece of the puzzle. There's a whole other piece that fills the gap in providing an easy and enjoyable customer journey: post-purchase communication.

What do retailers need to do to better serve the elderly and vulnerable?

Online retailers need to help at-risk groups navigate these new digital processes.

This includes:

  • The pre-purchase stage to help them find what they need as easily as possible
  • The actual time of purchase
  • The post-purchase stage, such as contact and delivery information

Most importantly, the elderly and vulnerable want to know more than anyone else where their package is at any given time and when it is expected to be delivered. This includes unforeseen delivery delays and difficulties, especially when it comes to vital goods such as medicines or food.

Post-sales communication is crucial


Online retailers need to stay in touch with their customers throughout the delivery process. They should keep them regularly updated on the status of their order in real time. These messages should be sent directly via email or text message, without customers having to navigate through a series of complicated web links and pages. Post-sales communications should be proactive, personalized, and reliably managed by the retailer itself.

Investing in the Operations Experience (OX)


By investing in an optimal Operations Experience (OX), retailers can provide the best possible customer experience to their new target audience. How does this work, exactly? By taking control of the communication themselves and not handing it over to third-party providers like DHL, Hermes & Co.

As a result, retailers can:

  • Proactively send emails/SMSs in real time so the customer always knows where their package is
  • Communicate in their own branding so there is no confusion about who the shipment in question is from
  • Navigate their customers to a track & trace page hosted in their own ecosystem so they can easily buy back directly

Read more about which five customer touchpoints increase repurchase rates here:

Take it a step further and offer them expert advice and tips on how to use the new product they just bought - such as videos, tutorials or recipe ideas. Such feel-good content helps build a sense of community that many will crave during this time of isolation.



The key message is to communicate, communicate, communicate! It's all about building customer trust and reducing the number of shipping-related customer service requests. If online retailers provide these new or first-time customers with an exceptional customer experience and show them how uncomplicated online shopping can be, then at best they can break habits and ensure that this group of buyers will also shop online in the future.

How can parcelLab help online retailers?

parcelLab is the leading platform for operations experience. Contact us to find out how we can help you take control of your own communications and provide your customers with both a consistently excellent brand experience and the best possible customer experience at all times.

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Create new reasons for people to love your brand. Build standout post-sales experiences tailored to your customers. Deliver personalized touch points that grab attention and spark loyalty.

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