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Brief Published: 23 Feb 2018

Elderly-Friendly: Taobao's E-Commerce App for Seniors


Chinese Alibaba-owned online marketplace Taobao has launched a senior-friendly version of its e-commerce app. The easy-to-use app features a simple interface and a family chat button, engaging with members of China’s ageing population who are keen to participate in the digital economy.

Currently, 30 million Taobao users are aged over 50, representing 6.5% of the mobile app’s total 468 million active users (Taobao, 2017). The number of Chinese people aged over 65 is expected to rise from approximately 100 million in 2005 to around 330 million in 2050 – roughly the population of the US (Forbes, 2017).

Senior users register an account through their mobile number and can link the account to their children. Features such as mobile shopping, personalised shopping suggestions and live-streamed content all remain – but with an enlarged interface.

Consumers also have the opportunity to make contact with their families within the app. A photo of a relative is displayed on every page, with users able to easily share products or initiate a chat or voice call by tapping the image. The app also features a ‘pay for me’ option, allowing children to pay for products that their parents have selected.

This venture into empathetic retailing is an example of the sophisticated targeting of consumers by Alibaba. Chinese seniors typically purchase 44 products a year online, spending around $800. The senior citizen online shopping market in China is estimated to be worth $200bn a year (Business Insider, 2017).

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