Skip to main content

Beacon Senior News

Confessions of an online shopping skeptic

Feb 22, 2021 11:53AM ● By Melanie Wiseman
online shopping- cellphone with picture of shopping cart

I was probably the last person I know to get a smartphone. 

Caving to the mocking of friends, family and grandkids, I decided to join the 21st century. My flip phone had been serving me just fine as a phone, which is all I thought I needed. Why did I need to text when I could email? Why have the internet at my fingertips when I had a desktop computer? 

Until I got a smartphone, I didn’t know what I was missing. Now, like everyone else, it’s within a couple of feet of me at all times. But I’m still not up to speed yet with the online shopping habits of other Boomers.

Yes, I buy the occasional book on Amazon, but clothes, shoes and furniture? That’s what we have stores for—to touch, try on, sit on, match colors, use coupons, and have a live person help you with the purchase or return.

As an online shopping skeptic, I’m definitely the exception. Boomers are not only making online purchases in droves, but are spending more than younger generations—an average of $203 per transaction. Since Boomers control over 70 percent of the disposable income in America, successful online companies are responding to their needs.

For example, Boomers have extremely high expectations in terms of customer service. As fewer Boomers consider shopping a relaxing experience compared to other age groups, one of the biggest driving factors of online shopping is convenience, which they’re willing to pay a premium for.

 While most Boomers navigate the internet with ease, keeping it simple with a shorter path to the purchase is key. Complicated maneuvering through websites with distracting pop-up screens trying to side-track you toward other options you may like, may end in a frustrating exit. We know what we want, just let us buy it!

The top five categories of products Boomers purchase online are pharmacy and health care products, household goods and appliances, wine, books (physical and digital) and cosmetics and skincare.

Although I’m still holding off on buying clothes and shoes online, I took the plunge and bought a piece of furniture from Wayfair after several recommendations. Customer reviews were great, the ordering process was a breeze, it arrived two days prior to the estimated delivery date, and was true to the specs and picture. The best part was that I didn’t have to leave the house!

Did I mention I hate shopping? With a positive experience under my belt, I may be joining the 66 percent of Boomers who already make regular online purchases.