Is your retail space accessible and welcoming to all passers-by? Increase your customer base and loyalty by incorporating these simple accessibility tips.
Consider your physical space and the ease in which people with children, prams, power chairs, walkers or guide dogs can enter and move around. Aisles need to be wide enough to fit mobility devices, surfaces need to be slip resistant, and ramps and entrances must be open and clear. Also consider access to changing rooms and the payment counter. Is there enough space in your changing rooms for wheelchair users and parents with prams to get to use? A queuing system is also a great idea for crowded areas. Finally, ensure your accessible entrance is clearly identified with a sticker or sign so people can easily find their way into your business. Our key takeaway: Make it easy (and safe) or they may go elsewhere!
As well as making sure your EFTPOS machine is at an appropriate height, check that it beeps loudly so that customers with low vision know they have successfully entered their pin. Finding the slot on EFTPOS machines can also be challenging for some people. If you can see a customer struggling, offer to swipe the card for them.
Make your customers feel welcomed and valued by speaking directly to people with companions, such as those in wheelchairs or older people. It is important to not assume that people can’t speak for themselves. And try to face the customer directly when speaking. Increasingly, more people have limited hearing and need to look at your face and lips as you talk. Or go a step further and learn some New Zealand sign language! A basic sign such as “hello” or “welcome to my business” will go a long way to help deaf people feel welcomed. This simple gesture is not only fun to learn but can also generate loyal customers. For more information on learning NZSL contact Deaf Aotearoa.
Check your price tags and product information for font size and style.Most people need fonts to be at least 12 point and many prefer text to be even larger.A sans serif font style can be read most comfortably by everyone. Having a braille price list on hand is a great idea too! Also, if a customer appears to be struggling to read something (such as a price tag) offer to read it out loud.
Most people do online research before they go out shopping. Your website is often the first impression of your business, but many websites are not user friendly for everyone. Consider your online experience from the perspective of older people, busy parents, and those with access needs. Here are some simple ways to make your site more accessible:
For a great example of an accessible website, check out the Be. Lab website.
Shopping online is becoming increasingly popular and necessary in this post Covid-19 world. Is your online service accessible for all? Consider those with limited hand function who use a keyboard to navigate, or visually impaired customers who use screen reading technology and magnification tools. It is important to include clear product information, instructions and contact details for anyone who may get stuck. Also consider the end-to-end process and how accessible click and collect options or making returns are for customers.
It is important to provide the opportunity for people to state they have an access need. A hearing-impaired customer may require a quieter area to have a discussion, or someone using a power chair may require a larger changing space. It can be as simple as stating on your website or at the counter to let staff know if customers have any specific needs. If a request seems complicated or needs specialist knowledge or equipment, contact the Be. Lab team
Consider whether you have adequate seating for customers who may need to sit and rest while shopping. Shopping can be a tiring experience for many people and they may spend longer in your shop if they get a chance to rest.
It is important to offer seats of varying heights (or are height adjustable) that have armrests and backrests. This is helpful for older people, pregnant mums or anyone with balance or strength limitations.
If potential customers know you are committed to accessibility they will choose your business over others. Consider including accessible features in your advertising, on your website and around your shop. And remember, you don’t have to be perfect! People understand that improving access takes time. The important thing is to be honest. If you don’t have an accessible car park or accessible toilet it’s better to say so as it allows customers to make a plan. If you really want to show your commitment to being an accessible business, find out more about becoming Be. Lab Accredited.
Go the extra mile and have information available to provide customers on other accessible businesses, and attractions in your local area. And if you do not have an accessible toilet onsite, make sure you know where the nearest public one is located. People with access needs want to have an easy and enjoyable time while shopping, so let’s make that happen! To learn more about how you can grow your business and customer base by becoming more accessible, visit the Be. Lab website.