From telehealth, remote learning to online grocery shopping, Australians were forced to try new digital behaviours for the first time during the pandemic and the new WP Engine Generation Resilience Report 2021 reveals two-thirds of Australians (64%) expect to maintain these newly adopted digital habits post-pandemic.
That widespread embrace is perhaps most apparent in the surging world of eCommerce. Younger generations – Gen Z and Millennials – have long been the audience eCommerce businesses are competing for, and they’ve had a major influence on the strategies and best practices some of the largest online companies have employed with success. Beyond faster page speeds and easier navigation, Gen Z’s digital preferences have played a key role in bringing deeper personalisation, simplicity, and authenticity to the web in general as well as eCommerce sites specifically.
However, with the eCommerce boom, older generations are catching up, with over half of Baby Boomers (51%) feeling more confident shopping online than ever before. This means retailers have to serve a broader audience than they did pre-pandemic.
For retailers looking to offer a meaningful, relevant and seamless eCommerce experience, here’s a few tips to keep in mind:
Adopt a Headless approach
Two thirds of Australians (65%) feel more confident buying things online than ever before. This increases to 69% of Millennials. With more confidence comes more demands. As eCommerce is among the top online activities that’s centered around convenience, eCommerce sites with subpar performance and a poor user experience can no longer compete with fast-loading, easy-to-use, more visually appealing alternatives.
Retailers that have been able to move quickly to an eCommerce model, upgrade their site’s performance and adopt a headless approach have been able to expand their audience and accelerate in uncertain times. Headless commerce, which is essentially the separation of the front and back end of an eCommerce solution, help retailers deliver on new experiences for customers without having to fundamentally change the way they manage their site. The right technology partner like WP Engine can help activate such a solution.
Tailor the shopping experience
Younger generations rely on the internet for entertainment and social connections, while older generations rely on the internet for information. The Info vs. Entertainment dynamic remains a tricky one—should you target younger audiences with dynamic, entertaining content at the risk of alienating other generations?
Many businesses have approached this issue carefully, slowly weaving more engaging, entertaining content like video and social media into their digital footprints while remaining informative and even somewhat formal. On the other hand, businesses have also bolstered their approaches by meeting younger audiences across the sources of entertainment they increasingly prefer. TikTok, for example, which was already extremely popular among younger generations, grew 52% among Gen Z users in 2020.
Personalisation and being ‘human’ is key to solving the Info vs. Entertainment dynamic. Over half of Gen Z (58%) demand websites to ‘talk’ to each other to provide more personalised experiences within the next five years and a further 56% of Gen Z believe websites will exhibit human emotions. By using browsing behaviour and location data to draw actionable audience insights, and adopting techniques such as personalised product recommendations, personalised ads and location-based targeting, retailers can display content that is more likely to engage their customers and build brand loyalty.
While Gen Z and Millennials continue to push the limits of technology, eCommerce strategies may also be well-advised to take cues from Baby Boomers, who have increasingly engaged in eCommerce activity during the pandemic with a healthy dose of frustration.
While irritation with product visibility and advertisements are shared across the generations, Baby Boomers offer a line of sight into the larger challenges faced by businesses that rely on eCommerce. Many of their eCommerce frustrations occur away from the website itself – slow delivery, shipping costs and out of stock items. These frustrations underscore the importance of retailers streamlining their supply chain while communicating this information and offering real transparency to consumers throughout the online shopping experience.
eCommerce adoption is expected to increase, with half of Australians (47%) believing all shopping will take place online in the next 10 years. Retailers that understand their target customer demographics and incorporate some of the generational specific feedback into their eCommerce stores will imbue their overall shopping experience with precisely the features, functionalities and experiences their consumer’s demand.
Mark Randall is country manager for Australia and New Zealand at WP Engine.