For many people, the accessibility of public spaces and town centres is taken for granted, but for those who have additional access requirements, trips out can be unnecessarily difficult and stressful.
Recent initiatives have been a step in the right direction, and many of the larger, more well-known retailers do meet the required standards. However, much more can be done to ensure all retailers are accessible for all their customers.
Incentives which could make a real difference to certain customers include creating quiet areas where they can take some time out if the store is busy, as well as operating a system where certain customers can be served quicker to avoid queuing.
Stores using a variety of in-store music systems to enhance all shoppers’ experience can increase the dwell time in their premises. Associating a certain sound to a certain brand can bring positive connotations with a store and help form a relationship between the retailer and the shopper. This encourages customers to revisit the store as well as recommend it to their friends and families.
As well as making sure there is wheelchair access in and out of the store, it is also important to ensure wheelchair access throughout the shop floor. Lowering till points for serving, making sure products are at the right height and that there are available staff to help can all go a long way. In addition to this, having properly equipped washrooms with support rails and lowered sink and hand-drying areas are essential.
Access arrangements for those who are partially sighted should also be available, including specially trained staff and any store signage available in Braille. The use of in-store media can be particularly beneficial for these customers.
For customers who are deaf or hard of hearing, customer promotions should be displayed around the store and not just announced on store speakers. The introduction of a hearing loops as well as staff training will also assist specific customers.
The recent backlash against online retailers has hit the headlines, and now is a great time to be promoting the high street.
Accessibility may also involve ensuring that you products are careful placed on shelves or in Storage Bins, whichever is more appropriate to your business and products, that are at a height that means they can be accessed by the majority of people.
There are many available courses for staff which cover a variety of issues, including what disability is and what it means, advice and guidance on appropriate language and how to improve shoppers’ overall experiences.