Global e-commerce shoppers who are baby boomers have different expectations than younger groups when purchasing online international brands, a new survey shows, with clothing the top category for purchases, and a clear refund policy key to a successful experience.

According to ‘Global Voices 2021: Cross-Border Shopper Insights’, a new global survey from eShopWorld (ESW), unlike Gen Zers, who might prioritise the latest ‘buy now, pay later’ payment options when shopping online internationally, baby boomers tend to look for fundamental best practices like the use of local language and currency and clear refund policies.

“Our data shows that baby boomers are participating in international e-commerce more than ever, but that they value different aspects of the cross-border shopping experience than their younger counterparts do,” says Tommy Kelly, CEO of ESW. “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 is presenting 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 e-commerce experience that caters to their specific preferences and needs ensures brands can create long-lasting, fruitful relationships that might be lost if they allow marketplaces to engage these loyal shoppers.”

Boomers are more concerned about having information presented in their local language and currency. When shopping cross-border, 43% of boomers said they prefer websites to present information in their own local language (versus 31% of shoppers 40 and under) and 39% prefer to be shown prices in their own local currency (versus 31% of younger shoppers).

Baby boomers are most comfortable shopping via credit or debit card. Some 65% of global e-commerce shoppers ages 57–75 have used credit or debit cards to make cross-border purchases. Only 3% of boomers have taken advantage of buy now, pay later options, versus 12% of shoppers ages 40 and under.

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Shoppers in the 57–75 age group prioritise lower cost over satisfaction with a past online experience. Some 42% of boomers surveyed said lower cost is a primary factor when shopping cross-border, versus just 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.

Boomers are also less inclined to trust positive ratings. Only half as many boomers (9%) as younger shoppers (18%) said they are swayed by referrals or positive ratings when shopping online from international brands.

Clothing is the top category for boomers purchasing cross-border. Among respondents ages 57–75 who had made a purchase from an international e-commerce site over the past six months, 72% said they had shopped for clothing, versus 91% of shoppers ages 40 and under, making it the most popular product category among both groups.

A clear refund policy is key to a successful international e-commerce experience. Some 29% of boomers said a clear refund policy was important when shopping online from international merchants, versus 24% of those in the Gen Z and millennial group.

ESW’s latest consumer survey was fielded from more than 22,000 consumers in 11 countries (Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, Turkey, the UK and the US), who were surveyed online in December 2020.

Gen Zers are defined as consumers ages 18–24, millennials as ages 25–40, Gen Xers as ages 41–56, baby boomers as ages 57–75 and the Silent generation as ages 76–92.