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Demographics shape retail & e-commerce trends

March 25, 2014 (Singapore)

While a large youthful population lends itself well to the on-going e-commerce trends, the very real issue of an aging population shapes traditional retail offerings. This translates to a long trajectory of growth for e-commerce to become an essential retail platform across the customers of all ages. 
 
The fact remains that the current aging population’s lack of technological skills and comfort in using electronic devices prove to be a barrier to their usage of e-commerce services. In addition the demands of the current aging population are different from those of the youths, the elderly today are bigger consumers of services compared to that of goods. 
 
Dr Ira, Chief Economist at Deloitte, said: “Although it makes for elderly people to enjoy the convenience offered by e-commerce, their current generation is simply not ready. They lack the technological skills. However the next generation or so, will be far more savvy and fuel the growth and usage of e-commerce into their old age.”
 
Countries such as Japan, which have a very large aging population, are already rolling out retail offering tailored to the demands of the elderly. Shopping malls have recalibrated their facilities to fit the sensibilities and expanded retail services. For example, some malls have slowed the speed of escalators, have restaurant with specialised organic and fortified ingredients as well as pharmacies offering additional services like blood pressure and diabetics checks.
 
Providing into this phenomena, Jerry Black, Senior Executive VP & Chief Strategy Officer of Aeon said: “For retailers to remain competitive and relevant, it is vital to have the flexibility to adapt to the evolving needs of customers across age groups. For a country like Japan, while there is a large aging population, retailers cannot ignore the needs of the youth.”
 
An empowered youthful population is a key driver for growth of a country’s retail industry. Furthermore a population with a large group of working females experiences more robust growth as empowered not only make retail decisions for the households but also for themselves. 

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