Taobao aims at seniors with new channel

Alibaba’s C2C e-commerce site Taobao aims at seniors and their families on a newly launched shopping channel on its platform.

Taobao for retirees aims to be easier for seniors to register an account and browse products, delivering an improved user experience that includes personalised recommendations and after-sales service, says Taobao head of development Ding Jian.

It also includes a peer-to-peer chat service, allowing family members to share products and consult or help one another in one click, as well as a new “pay-for-me” option to pay for another’s purchases.

It is the first move by Taobao this year to refine services based on a particular consumer group. “We want Taobao to become a bridge that helps them strengthen relationships with the younger generation, brings them closer together,” says Ding.

The channel also expands Taobao from being “a tool for individuals” to a more-social “shopping destination for our relatives, partners and children…a shared place where we can seamlessly exchange product information and interact with each other as a unit,” says product manager Zhang Xiaoyu.

“Great to see”

“For middle-aged to elderly people, the website layout is too loud with too much information. Things we don’t need to see can be removed,” says retired teacher Liu Yanping, quoted on Alibaba Group’s Alizila news service. “And they did it – they simplified the website and made it cleaner. It’s great to see that.”

Former engineering professor Li Lu says the channel will have a major impact on seniors. “In my social circle, most of us stay home and rely on Taobao. Retirement would be impossible without Taobao. Groceries can be too heavy to carry,” says the 83-year-old.

Alibaba is recruiting two “senior experience officers”, senior citizens who are influential in their social circles, to provide user feedback and help further improve the channel.

China’s population of over-60s is expected to exceed 255 million by 2020, up from 230 million in 2016 and equivalent to 16.7 per cent of the nation’s overall population, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

Alibaba figures show that more than 30 million Taobao users are 50 years or older, with more than 75 per cent falling in the 50-59 range, and nearly 20 per cent 60-69. More than 1000 livestream shows aimed toward this consumer group are broadcast on Taobao daily.

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