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Australian retailers should embrace tech savvy retirees

With more retirees becoming tech savvy, retailers need to realise they are an important market for online shopping, writes Natasha Rawlings.

Marketers can never afford to be out of touch with their customers and the belief many of them have that retirees are not using their smartphones during the shopping process is incorrect!

Globally, smartphone penetration has reached a tipping point. The majority of new phones sold are smartphones and Australia is leading the western world with a smartphone penetration of 64 per cent. Something that isn’t often recognised is that Australians are also using their smartphones in the same way as our US cousins. On the world’s stage, we are tech sophisticates.

On the whole, although as ‘consumers’ we are at the vanguard of the smartphone revolution, unfortunately our businesses are not. Australian retailers are struggling to get their technology up-to-date to compete on the global stage. With antiquated inventory and point-ofsale systems, and the painstakingly slow move to new platforms (vital to support up-to-date mobile and online commerce), they are struggling to pull into the 21st century. If you haven’t heard the soundtrack to this scenario yet, organisations that don’t move to mobile now will lose out to those who ‘get it’ – i.e. Web 3.0 is mobile.

In my travels, many retail marketers with brands targeted to retirees have said to me that smartphone users are ‘not my customers’. This sentiment mirrors closely what the Australian Human Rights Commission recently published in a report titled Fact or Fiction: Stereotypes of Older Australians about beliefs on how older people handle technology.

Using Google’s My Mobile Planet we can understand how smartphone shopping pans out for all demographics. Smartphone adoption by the over 50s is pretty much the same across all age groups and nearly one-third of these mobile users have smartphones. This figure isn’t going south.

When shopping, over 50s aren’t far behind younger counterparts (18 per cent of over 50s compared to 28 per cent of 18 to 30 year olds) when it comes to researching products. When looking at what happens after searches for local information (like calling or visiting a store), then all age groups behave similarly except for calling a store where the over 50s win hands down.

Over 50s are pretty close to their younger counterparts when using apps or searching for products in every way except for buying via their smartphones – and don’t retailers really want you to go into their store anyway?

I am not sure when businesses in Australia are going to be able to ‘get with the program’, but one thing is for sure – whatever their customer demographic if they are not thinking about mobile they will have trouble staying in business. And that will be a shame for everyone.

“When shopping, over 50s aren’t far behind younger counterparts when it comes to researching products.

Natasha RawlingsNatasha Rawlings
CEO OF STREETHAWKNatasha Rawlings is the CEO of StreetHawk, a total location-based marketing solution for retailers, brands, venues and apps that want to create real-world utility and action. Natasha is in contact with Australian retail marketers every day and writes a regular blog.

For more information email natasha@streethawk.com