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Online Shopping Through Generations

I have won this lottery. It's a gigantic lottery, and it's called Amazon.com. And I'm using my lottery winnings to push us a little further into space.
- Jeff Bezos, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Amazon.
EBay's success as a company depends on the success of the community of sellers.
- Pierre Omidyar, Founder and Chairman of eBay.
What would we do without Amazon? What would we do without eBay? The younger generation of customers will never know, because those two sites were only launched in 1995. Since then, online retail has continually grown and the convenience of shopping in your pajamas on your sofa has become more popular. In 1998, eBay, the world's largest online marketplace, initiated My eBay, which provides customers a personalized shopping experience by allowing them to keep track of their favorites and purchasing/selling history. Several years later, in 2005, Amazon, the world's largest ecommerce and cloud computing platform, initiated Amazon Prime. This service provide members free and expedited shipping. As online shopping continues to expand and becomes more accessible, customers are switching to the web and steering clear of the stores.

Studies have been done to determine the online shopping trends for four generations: Baby Boomers (b. 1946-1964), Generation X (b. 1965-1980), Millennials (b. 1981-1998), and Generation Z (post-millennial.)

With online shopping becoming a huge phenomenon, how much of the population is still walking into a physical store to buy something?
Anyone hoping to improve their online sales success must take advantage of emerging trends.
- Eddie Machaalani, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Bigcommerce.
In 2011, Facebook started sponsoring stores on its site based on a user's search history. With so many people turning to the Internet to do their shopping, many businesses will pay social media platforms, such as Facebook, to sponsor their sites and products. The question is, how much of the population will purchase an item they found via Facebook advertising?
Online sites like Amazon provide a financing option, which allows customers to make a purchase and take their time to pay. The following graph illustrates how much of each generation makes a purchase while financing first:
On the contrary, some will be more likely to purchase items that are more expensive than they had originally planned on when financing was an option, as indicated below:
As convenient as being able to make a purchase from the comfort of your own home and have it delivered to your doorstep may be, one major inconvenience for online shoppers is the inability to physically touch a product to get a real sense of it before ordering, or not being able to try on a piece of clothing to see how it looks before making the commitment to purchase. As shown below, this is more of an inconvenience for the older crowd who is more accustomed to shopping before the Internet than the generation growing up in the age of online retail.
Another thing retailers need to consider is, compared to how many online customers they acquire, how many of them return the purchases they made? According to a recent study, more than three-quarters of the Gen X customers return online products. In contrast, less than half of Baby Boomers and less than half of Gen Z return online purchases.
Finally, only about half of millennial online shoppers return their products.
Overall, the web is pretty sloppy, but an online store can't afford to be.
- Paul Graham, Co-Found of Y Combinator.