To understand how companies can connect with all shoppers along the purchase path, we spoke to the accessibility experts working at digital-first marketing and advertising services company Media.Monks.
Like with other aspects of accessibility, tools designed to help disabled and neurodivergent shoppers will benefit all customers.
Some forms of neurodivergence cause the people experiencing it to get easily overwhelmed when presented with a lot of new information at the same time. This can be compounded if that information isn’t organized in a way that makes sense to them. Likewise, people with vision or mobility impairments do not often have the luxury of being able to wander around a store until they find what they’re looking for.
Tools that give customers advanced opportunities to learn the layout of a store, understand how products are organized, and know if what they need is in stock can have a huge impact on their confidence and ability to navigate your retail environment. Also the ability to ask for assistance ahead of time, and have store employees prepared to help when they arrive could mean the difference between someone with assistive needs feeling comfortable and valued as a customer, or leaving empty-handed and going elsewhere.
Offering shoppers the same tools to prepare for their trip as they enter the store helps to make sure those tools are more available and accessible to everyone. Supplementing them with things like augmented reality-assisted in-store wayfinding and product identification, and even helping them chart a path through the store based on their shopping lists helps customers of all abilities even more.
When we talk about disability, there is a big range of different needs that the shopper could have. It is important to give shoppers the option to have both support or indepence. If you give people the ability to request help from specific locations within the store, it means that they can get help on their own terms when they need it, and keep their independence the rest of the time if they want it.
There are some great opportunities to innovate on the retail experience in ways that also benefit accessibility and ease of shopping for disabled and neurodivergent folks. Using QR codes on shelves can help shoppers find and evaluate alternatives when something they’re looking for isn’t in stock. Finding a replacement in real-time can cause distress for some neurodivergent people who need extra time to make decisions and might not feel comfortable with sudden changes in plans.
Shopping assistant apps can also be used in combination with QR codes to build a virtual cart that can be prepared and waiting for them at checkout, so that people with mobility disabilities don’t have to navigate the store with full baskets or carts.
PSFK's report on Inclusive Technology in Retail will help iQ Members understand how companies optimize their spaces with assistive technologies, catering to the various needs of people with disabilities:
Our retail industry trends research paper has been developed by the same researchers and analysts who help the world's leading companies (inc. Nike, Google & Samsung) understand key drivers and activate powerful trends. PSFK researchers help companies that include Nike, Google & Samsung with their sector-leading market research platform and bespoke trends research and innovation consulting.