BEIJING: Soon after announcing it was recruiting among the over-60s to help make its online shopping platforms more amenable to this age group, Alibaba has also launched an elderly-friendly version of its Taobao shopping app.

This is much simpler than its mainstream app, Reuters reported, with a larger interface, and it can also be linked to a relative’s account so that children, for example, can view and pay for their elderly parent’s products.

In mid-January, the e-commerce giant caused a stir when it said it was looking for ‘Taobao senior user study consultants’ and offering a salary of up to 400,000 yuan.

Potential consultants were required to have at least one year of online shopping experience, the GB Times reported, as well as a close relationship with their offspring and influence in age-related leisure and community groups – particularly the “square dance” groups where crowds of elderly Chinese take part in communal exercise in local parks.

Successful candidates will be instrumental in attracting greater numbers of older consumers online. There are around 230m Chinese people over the age of 60 but only 6m of Taobao’s 468m users are between the ages of 60 and 69.

“The big motivator here is that their revenue growth is slowing,” said Benjamin Cavender, Shanghai-based principal at China Market Research Group.

“It’s easier now than it was in the past to get some of these older users to actually open up their wallets and spend,” he added.

Alibaba isn’t just targeting them online, however: it is also investing in bricks-and-mortar stores which older consumers are more likely to use.

But at the same time it is edging this age group into the digital age. Its Hema Supermarket, for example, only accepts payments by mobile phone.

Sourced from Reuters, GB Times; additional content by WARC staff