From Stores to Screens: The Older Adults’ Online Shopping Experience

From Stores to Screens: The Older Adults’ Online Shopping Experience

In the current digital landscape, there has been a paradigm shift in the shopping habits of older adults online shopping. Many adults have moved away from the traditional approach of purchasing goods from brick and mortar stores and are embracing the convenience offered by online platforms. 

As the population segment aged 80 years or older expands, primarily driven by increased life expectancy, what are the reasons older adults are turning to digital platforms for shopping and how will their online shopping habits shape the future of e-commerce?

The Online Shopping Habits of Older Adults

The online shopping behaviors of older adults are becoming increasingly important to understand. Let’s explore some of the reasons why digital shopping is growing in popularity with older adults:


Online shopping allows consumers to make purchases at any time, without the need to travel or adhere to store opening hours. This is especially appealing to older adults who may have mobility issues or health conditions that make traveling to physical stores challenging.

Delivery Services

Many online stores provide home delivery services, removing the hassle of carrying heavy shopping bags, which is a significant benefit for older adults. 

Technological Literacy

With the rise of smartphones and user-friendly applications, the barrier to using technology has significantly decreased for older adults. They are more tech-savvy today than ever before, with many regularly using the internet, email, and social media.

Pandemic Influence

The COVID-19 pandemic has also played a role in accelerating this shift. During periods of lockdown and social distancing, many older adults turned to online shopping as a safer alternative to visiting physical stores.

Despite the opportunities presented by the shifting shopping behaviors of the older generation, a void exists in the e-commerce industry: a widespread neglect of the unique needs and preferences of elderly users in the design and user experience of online shopping platforms. Could this be a missed opportunity for digital retailers to tap into an underserved, yet increasingly tech-savvy demographic?

A Forgotten Digital Market

In the world of e-commerce, the failure to consider the needs of elderly users has far-reaching implications. Let’s identify some of the consequences of neglecting the elderly customer base, from untapped market potential to the fundamental principles of inclusivity that underpin the internet itself:

1. Untapped Market Potential

Older adults represent a growing consumer segment with significant purchasing power.

2. Overlooking Financial Influence

Neglecting the elderly customer base means overlooking a potentially lucrative market and revenue stream.

3. Disposable Income Advantage

Older adults often have more disposable income compared to younger demographics, making them valuable customers for e-commerce businesses.

4. Frustration and Abandonment

Failing to provide an accessible and user-friendly online experience for older users may lead to frustration, abandonment of shopping carts, and negative brand perception.

5. Ignoring  a Global Trend

The aging population is a global trend, and businesses that address the needs of older adults today will be better positioned for future success and sustainability.

Understanding the shopping habits of older adults is more than just acknowledging an overlooked demographic – it’s about recognizing a powerful market force. But, before digital retailers can cater to their needs, they must first understand older adults’ shopping patterns. What items are they drawn to in the digital marketplace? And what preferences guide their online purchasing decisions? 

How are Older People Shopping?

From prioritizing grocery shopping for the elderly to health and wellness products to seeking comfort in home goods and clothing, we’ll now uncover the trends that shape older adults’ shopping preferences:  

Grocery Shopping for the Elderly 

Online grocery shopping has witnessed a significant surge in popularity among the elderly, offering a range of benefits tailored to their needs. Age UK recognizes this upward trend and provides a helpful set of instructions for grocery shopping.  

Health and Wellness Products

Older adults prioritize their well-being and are more likely to purchase vitamins, supplements, prescription medications, mobility aids, and other health-related products online.

Home Goods and Appliances

Older adults may be more inclined to shop for home goods, including kitchen appliances, bedding, furniture, and home decor items, as they prioritize creating a comfortable living space.

Books and Reading Materials

Older adults have a higher tendency to purchase books, e-books, and other reading materials online to indulge their love for reading and explore various genres.

Travel and Experiences

Cultural immersion is popular amongst older adults due to their inherent desire for lifelong learning and intellectual stimulation. These experiences provide them an enriching opportunity to embrace diversity, fostering deeper connections and empathy towards different cultures and societies.

Tips for a ‘Shop for the Elderly’ Strategy

To enhance the shopping experience for older adults, retailers can devise ‘Shop for the Elderly’ strategies that prioritizes accessibility, convenience, and personalized assistance. By implementing these initiatives, businesses can curate an inclusive online shopping environment tailored to the preferences of elderly users. Here a few strategies to take advantage of:

1. User-Friendly Website Design

Retailers can implement shop for the elderly strategies by creating user-friendly websites with clear navigation, intuitive search functionality, and adjustable font sizes. This ensures that older adults can easily browse products, read descriptions, and make purchases without encountering usability barriers. 

2. Clear Product Information

Providing detailed and easily accessible product information is essential for older adults when shopping online. Retailers can include comprehensive descriptions, sizing charts, and customer reviews to help older shoppers make informed decisions and feel confident in their online purchases.

3. Responsive Customer Support

Offering dedicated customer support channels, such as live chat or phone assistance, can greatly enhance the online shopping experience for older adults. By offering individualized support, promptly addressing inquiries, and providing guidance throughout the purchasing process, retailers can cultivate a sense of trust and dependability in their online platform.

 Want to read more? Check out our blog which highlights 5 Web Accessibility Tips for Older Users.

How To Align With The Digital Senior

The emergence of the “digital senior” symbolizes the evolution in the online shopping behaviors of older adults, demanding a renewed focus on digital accessibility. Harnessing the power of accessibility tools and enlisting the knowledge of experts in the field have become integral to rendering the internet more navigable and user-friendly for this demographic. 

Engaging with accessibility consultants is a pivotal move in this direction, supplying invaluable perspectives and technical proficiency to maximize the inclusivity of digital platforms. Furthermore, these specialists can assist in identifying potential barriers within the digital environment, thereby ensuring a smooth, seamless, and enjoyable online shopping experience for seniors.

UserWay: Prioritizing Accessibility for All

In pursuing accessibility in e-commerce, the focus should not be on creating a separate online store for elderly people’; instead, it is entirely possible, and indeed more beneficial, to design an all-inclusive platform that caters to all demographics, thereby promoting an age-inclusive online shopping environment. 

With UserWay’s accessibility solutions, you can enhance your website’s accessibility, comply with accessibility guidelines, and provide equal access to any customer who wishes to purchase from you. Join the movement towards a more accessible digital world with UserWay by booking an expert consultation today.


What are the benefits of online shopping for elderly people?

Online shopping offers convenience, accessibility, and a wider range of products for elderly individuals, allowing them to shop from the comfort of their homes, compare prices easily, and have items delivered directly to their doorstep.

What are the implications of neglecting accessibility on my ecommerce website?

Neglecting accessibility on your ecommerce website can exclude potential customers, negatively impacting your sales and reputation. 

How can I optimize my eCommerce website to enhance accessibility for senior users?

To make your eCommerce website accessible for seniors, prioritize clear and readable design with legible fonts and high contrast colors. Simplify navigation with descriptive headings and subheadings, and ensure a responsive design that works well on mobile devices for convenient browsing and purchasing.

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