min read

Silver tsunami storms e-commerce

The number of online buyers over 50 has increased from a dozen to almost 70%. It’s them who were at the highest risk of getting Covid19. Those, who so far were totally offline because of their age, suddenly have entered the virtual world. It became

I’m off for a ride. At the bike path I pass people mainly over 60. They’re the most numerous group. Where I live, we’ve got only 3 kids for 11 apartments. The youngest is 13 and there’s no hope for a new fry. There are a few thousands people living at the whole estate and maybe 10 of them are under 15. Can’t complain though, it’s nice and quiet. In the summer I work with wide open windows. My personal barker is the noisiest here.

There’s no difference in nearby shops. Both at Mrs’s Dorothy’s downstairs and at  Lidl. Although I’m quite of age, I feel like a teen. Most of the people around me are of my parents' generation.

We’ve been getting old for a while. All of us. Sociologists have been alarming for some time already.  Pandemic, or rather all restrictions involved, speeded up the social changes. This includes shopping and e-shopping behaviour. Within the last two years the number of internet users has increased to 3,6 mln in Poland only. Only grocery shoppers have doubled.

The number of online buyers over 50 has increased from a dozen to almost 70%.  It’s them who were at the highest risk of getting Covid19. Those, who so far were totally offline because of their age, suddenly have entered the virtual world. It became their second living environment. The Internet has been hit with the powerful “silver commerce” trend. It’s been a huge age group which cannot be skipped any longer when planning solutions for e-commerce. It’s extremely important to notice their needs and respond to them. Who are they? How do they behave? What is different when compared to younger groups?

Silver tsunami

It’s a description for aging European societies. The baby boomers generation born after WWII. There are quite a few of them. The word tsunami describes them really well. They become more and more visible and plan to stay here for a while. They are looking for nice and interesting ideas though. Forecasts say, until 2030, 25% of the population will be people over 65. According to a HelpAge Internation report, in 2050, it’s going to be almost 45%. They’re great. Completely different from our grannies and grandpas.

Who are the silvers?

Mature people. Not seniors! This word is unacceptable until they’re 70. People around 60 completely don’t identify with it. Let’s be honest, they’re very far away from a traditional image of a senior person.

The silvers are active and enjoy living their passions. They finally have time! They’re often stronger and more passionate about life, than hard working and burnt out thirty-year-olds. They’ve got freedom which the youngsters can only dream of. So…. who’s going to say no to them?

Especially active are women. They attend workshops, travel and do sports. Loads of them start a business when they're mature and don’t even think about a comfy sofa and warm slippers.

Bear it in mind! Let’s have a look at a few facts, which I’ve managed to find.

For a start we’ve got a few numbers from the Ringier Axel Springer report “Power of silver generation” from 2021. Over 40% of the total population in Poland are people over 50. You’d have to be an idiot, not knowing how many potential consumers this is. The report says clearly, 37% love to buy clothes and their favorite brands are Adidas, H&M, Wrangler, Reserved or 4f. Youngsters choose similarly, but slightly cheaper. The myth of older generations having no money has just collapsed. They have and they love to spend it. They have no obligations such as kids or mortgages, instead they always have some pocket money just in case. They can finally spend it on themselves and feel no guilt about it.

Over half of them, 57%, when shopping for clothes choose comfort. Price and quality are next (34% each).

What do they enjoy buying?

45% buy house equipment and 37% clothes and shoes.  There is a strong age-friendly fashion  trend, which assumes we don’t choose clothes suitable for our age or social standing as we used to in the past, but to our lifestyle. If a 60-year-old does sports, likes freestyle and feels young at heart, then why on earth wouldn't he be able to dress like a 30-year-old who lives a similar life? Clothes dedicated to young girls can also be worn by their grandmothers. Only if they’re not stuck in the 90ties, of course. This however was 30 years ago now!

Silver influencers become more popular and “oldushkas” in advertising campaigns and at catwalks win the hearts of audiences. Still they’re not as popular in Europe as in the US. American brands make sure mature models are present in their campaigns. They know very well who spends bucks with them.

It’s not the end! Quite a lot of silvers began shopping for groceries because of the pandemic restrictions. They've limited shop visits and found out they can buy online carrots as well as clothes or shoes. There’s no need to risk life or health.

Where is the catch?

You’re right. Nobody is perfect. You can’t deceive the time. The silvers use smartphones differently than younger generations and have different needs than 13-year-olds.

UX and safety vs. loyalty

It is a big part of the population, who creates new possibilities for sellers, but also great challenges for the whole e-commerce industry.

The changes within the last two years and increase of e-commerce created a real highway for internet sellers. The silvers are active buyers, use social media and various messaging apps. They’ve got their own preferences. When surfing over the internet, I’ve noticed they’re favourite is Facebook and are much more active there than youngsters. Their reactions are free from anger and much more accepting. They are more likely to leave nice comments or like, which is a very nice change in a world full of hate. Even if they criticize, they use manners and don’t offend. They are a dream target audience. Especially if you look for active brand ambassadors.

They are loyal. They get used to things, places and brands. Once they’ve known and liked Ebay, they won’t move to Amazon too soon. Embrace and appreciate it. If you look after them, you get very faithful customers.

Talking about money, Poles are distrustful. Deferred payment or cash on delivery are a must. I can confirm. Once lost trust is lost forever. My mother in law pays on delivery only after her bank account has been cleaned out. No idea when she gets ready for other options if so at all. Prepayments or parcel lockers are less important. Make sure your e-store offers all delivery options preferred by the silvers.

Older consumers appreciate personal contact and service. Take care of them, they need to chat to an assistant and feel well looked after. This will pay you back. Trust, security and the best possible UX will win their hearts. It’s a completely new reality for many of them. They need to face shopping without talking to lovely Mary, who knows what they want without asking as she’s been there for the last 20 years or so. On Mondays she puts on side their favourite bagel and on Tuesdays, it’s 10 slices of Italian salami. You need to create a shopping experience which can be like Mary’s service, will make them comfortable and secure.

Easy navigation, simple product page and intuitive customer’s path are a must. Consider possible age limitations. You may need bigger fonts, well visible CTA, perfect product presentation and description. Your service must be ready for someone who doesn’t surf through the internet as easily as through their own apartment. Don’t judge it by yourself, or even more by your teenage kid. Sit your mom in front of the computer and see what makes her struggle, what questions she asks or what is out of her sight. There are no prizes for guessing when designing a customer's path. Only deep research will make it effective and profitable.

The proper product presentation is a key to success. They need to feel, see and even try it in virtual reality. Take care of multimedia, which will let the silvers truly experience the product. Make sure the description is enough and responds to all possible queries or doubts. Consider various product relations and suggestions, which can significantly increase the shopping cart.

How to put it all together in one place?

Perfectly designed product page should combine all these elements. It has to be straightforward and easy to navigate as well as deliver all necessary information. The ideal solution is a PIM software, which helps create, edit and distribute product information. In spite of all the facts it is still used very rarely. The competition gets more fierce, you can get a headache from the enormous choice and UX should hit the top level and be suited to users. What are you waiting for?

What do you get with a PIM implementation?

  • Product management in one place
  • Perfect matching product pages templates
  • Creating product relations
  • Product descriptions standardization
  • Connecting products with relevant multimedia.

Quite important from the silvers’ point of view, don’t you think?








Iza Faber

Marketing Manager