Who’s Specifying and Placing Orders With You

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Boomers Move Over

By now it’s old news, the first Baby Boomers hit the age of 65 last year and 3.5 million more will do so each of the next twenty years. Sure, they’re not all going to retire immediately upon hitting that milestone, many voice the intent to work past age 65, but many will and others will leave the labor market before reaching it.

In any case, Baby Boomers – defined as those born between 1946 and 1964 – will represent a declining percentage of the workforce going forward, dropping from just under 40% now.

Who will take their places? Why Generations X and Y, of course. Gen X – born between 1965 and 1979 – are already closing fast making up some 36% of the workforce.

So going forward it will be increasingly likely that those who configure and place orders with your company will be from Generations X and Y. Why does that matter?

Its All About Interaction Preferences

Baby Boomers, like the Traditionalist generation before them, are most comfortable with phone and face-to-face interactions, leveraging personal relationships to gain information and transact.

By comparison, Gen X and Gen Y are comfortable using the Internet to perform research and shop. They, too, leverage relationships to gain information, but are more likely than Boomers to do that online through social networking sites and customer reviews.

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 80% of Gen Xers go online to research and purchase products while 72% do so to configure and book travel reservations and 67% do their banking online.

Clearly, this is a generation that is not only comfortable in the world of online information repositories, configurators and order entry systems, but one with high expectations that those capabilities will be available online for their use.

Are You Ready?

Gen X and Gen Y prefer the immediacy, flexibility, and convenience of online interactions where intuitive interfaces and round-the-clock access allows them to conduct business on their own terms.

Does that describe your company’s offerings? If not, you may already be losing business to firms with superior online capabilities for prospects and customers. You surely will in the future.

That doesn’t mean that you need to abandon proven processes that work today with your loyal customers. But you may need to compliment those with well-crafted online tools to attract new customers tomorrow, and maybe even to retain some existing ones. Designed appropriately, these new tools could be used by your internal staff as well, making their jobs easier and replacing aging tools that are increasingly difficult to use and expensive to maintain.

Help Is Available

Fortunately, a decade of web-technology advancements means that you can bring these capabilities to market now in ways that are much more efficient and cost effective than you could have in the past.

As an early entrant you would have had to build and host your own systems, a proposition that is not only costly but does not guarantee success.

Today you can likely choose from any number of providers who specialize in offering highly configurable systems to meet your needs as well as those of many others. These vendors will often host the systems as well, helping you contain server and servicing costs as well.

A third-party eBusiness consultant, one who understands the market but doesn’t sell his own packaged web systems, could help you assess your company’s needs, evaluate options, and develop an appropriate action plan.

Summing It Up

  • A growing percentage of the orders for your products and services will be placed by Gen X and Gen Y going forward
  • More comfortable working online than the Boomers, Generations X and Y have greater expectations about the information, configuration, and ordering capability you offer through the web
  • Its likely that you can use third-party experts with proven solutions to make up ground quickly
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