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Baby boomers drive cross-border ecommerce, but want local currency and language

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Boomers international: cross-border driven by the over 50s? (Image: Shutterstock)
Boomers international: cross-border driven by the over 50s? (Image: Shutterstock)
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Baby boomers are descerning cross-border shoppers, but look for native language, payments and personal service before they engage

Baby Boomers are increasingly buying from international ecommerce sites, but have a distinctly different set of purchasing preferences from younger consumers, an international study has found.

According to Global Voices 2021: Cross-Border Shopper Insights, from eShopWorld (ESW), which talked to more than 22,000 consumers from 11 countries, unlike Gen Z, who might prioritise the latest Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) payment options when shopping online internationally, Baby Boomers are more influenced by fundamental best practices, such as the use of local language and currency and clear refund policies.

“Our data show that baby boomers are participating in international ecommerce more than ever, but that they value different aspects of the cross-border shopping experience than their younger counterparts,” explains Tommy Kelly, CEO of ESW.

He continues: “Shoppers in the 57–75 age group naturally gravitate to online marketplaces, so retailers and brands seeking to reach them directly need to make sure their cross-border shopping experience presents information in their own local language and currency. Older shoppers also don’t care as much about customer reviews as Gen Zers and Millennials do and they prioritise lower costs and clear refund policies.”

“Being aware of these generational differences and offering Boomers a cross-border ecommerce experience that caters to their specific preferences and needs ensures that brands can create long-lasting, fruitful relationships that might be lost if they rely on marketplaces as their mainstay to engage these loyal shoppers,” he concludes.

When shopping cross-border, 43% of Boomers said they prefer websites to present information in their own local language (as opposed to 31% of shoppers aged 40 and under) and 39% prefer to be shown prices in their own local currency in contrast to 31% of younger shoppers.

Baby Boomers are also most comfortable shopping using a credit or debit card, with 65% of global ecommerce shoppers ages 57–75 having used these methods to pay for cross-border purchases. Only 3% of Boomers have taken advantage of BNPL options as opposed to 12% of shoppers ages 40 and under.

42% of Boomers surveyed said lower cost is a primary factor when shopping cross-border in contrast to 32% of those in younger age groups. Only 27% of shoppers in both the Boomer and 40-and-under age groups said that satisfaction with a previous shopping experience was a major concern.

Half as many Boomers (9%) as younger shoppers (18%) said they are swayed by referrals or positive ratings when shopping online from international brands. Some 29% of Boomers said a clear refund policy was important when shopping online from international merchants in contrast to 24% of those in the Gen Z and Millennial group.

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