Open Doors For All: How Retailers Can Improve Access

Making it easy for people to access your retail business is essential. You want as many people as possible to be able to get to your location and start shopping with you. 

Unfortunately, attracting people can be more complex than you might imagine. While most retail stores stand at the heart of their respective city’s transportation network, it can still be hard for people to find you and start browsing your products. Many retailers say that they believe in open doors for all, but relatively few actually put in the work required to make that happen. 

So what can you do to make your retail store more accessible and attract more passing traffic? Here are some of our ideas. 

Offer Virtual Shopping Experiences

One option is to eliminate the need to physically travel to your store at all. Virtual shopping experiences are becoming increasingly popular, and many firms are now leveraging them to provide their customers with a better overall experience. 

Virtual shopping experiences can take various forms. Customers don’t need their own VR headsets or anything complicated like that. Instead, they simply require a device and the ability to interact with you indirectly. 

The form your virtual shopping experience takes is entirely up to you. Most retailers will opt to present their customers with items on-screen or invite them to webinars. However, you can do phone shopping if you serve an older clientele and know that they will respond better to that approach. 

Apply Personalized Assistance

Another excellent way to make your store’s retail experience more accessible is to provide customers with personalized assistance. Having a store clerk assist people as they move around the store, reaching items off shelves for them, can help drive sales and make disabled customers feel more welcome. 

The level of personalized assistance you offer should reflect the potential value of the customer. The individuals likely to spend the most should receive assistance, whether they have a disability or not. Having someone walk around with them, explain items in your collection and so on can help greatly in creating a respectful and unique shopping environment. 

Invest In Various Transport Options

You also want to ensure you invest in multiple transport options to make it easier for customers to reach your store. Putting a parking lot out front is one good option, but you also want to work with the local authority to invest in nearby stations and ramps to enter your building. 

A bicycle shed made from solid polycarbonate is another route. Having somewhere people can safely lock up their rides makes it more likely you’ll attract people who prefer to cycle around town instead of getting stuck in traffic. 

The more options you can think of, the more convenient you can make your store for your patrons. Taking the time to consider their transport needs can have a tremendous impact on the number of people who visit you over time. 

Leverage Accessible Payment Methods

Another option is to invest in accessible payment methods for your clientele. You want to make it easy for individuals with mobility issues to access your store and pay for services. 

One option is to use tap-to-pay functionality. This option might be helpful for individuals with limited hand movement ability. You might also consider setting up a direct debit or remote payment method if that makes it more convenient for people. 

Minimize Sensory Disturbances

Another method for making your retail store more accessible is to minimize sensory disturbances. Reducing the amount of bright light or loud music can make some patrons feel more comfortable. 

For instance, many people with learning disabilities find noisy environments distressing. Loud music and thumping beats seem unnecessary and can put patrons off. 

It can also reduce the willingness of caregivers to take people to your store. If they know it will be loud or unpleasant, they are more likely to recommend a competitor. 

Ideally, you want to create a calm atmosphere that makes everyone feel at ease. Install soft lighting and keep the music gentle (or don’t play any at all). 

You should also consider setting up your store in a non-confrontational way. Many people with learning disabilities profoundly dislike sales environments and feel highly uncomfortable during them. 

Add Thoughtful Signage

You might also want to consider investing in more thoughtful signage. Having signs that people can easily read enables them to understand more about your store and what you should do next. 

The best signage uses large letters with a legible font, helping individuals with impaired sight. Post it in key areas around your store, such as the dressing room, changing rooms, and other essential areas. 

You could also consider including braille at key points around your store. This language for the sight-impaired is inconspicuous but also invaluable for people who can’t see. 

If you’re not sure how to make your signage more thoughtful, there are plenty of accessibility consultants around who can help. These individuals teach you precisely what you need to do to improve store layout and make your signage legible and easy to read. 

Use Clear Pathways

Another pro tip is to invest in clear pathways for your customers. Having plenty of space to move allows wheelchair users to access all your products and go shopping by themselves. 

Wide paths and gangways are also beneficial for those using mobility aids. Having space to maneuver can make a tremendous difference in their willingness to access your store and buy your products and services. 

If you have a lot of lines and little space, consider reducing the number of things you sell. Prioritize the most profitable options and reduce reliance on marginal SKUs. 

Once you do this, you can open up more physical space in your store without compromising on inventory. Customers still get the items they need while enjoying wide aisles with excellent access to products. 

If reducing inventory is not an option for you, consider stacking items higher. Provide customers with in-store assistance if they need something from the top shelf. 

Add Ramp Access

You’ll also want to provide your customers with ramp access to your premises. Being able to wheel up a slope is much better than having to get over steps. 

Ramps are easy to install and don’t require you to change your existing entryway most of the time. As such, they are a minimal investment. Most sit on top of the threshold of your front door, smoothing over any step or lip. 

If there are steps outside your retail unit, you can add ramps to these. Just make sure they aren’t too steep. Moving up them shouldn’t be dangerous or require excessive force. 

Use Adjustable Shelving

You might also want to try using adjustable shelving. Allowing customers to lower or raise units makes products more accessible, promoting inclusively. 

Adjustable shelving can be expensive and challenging to implement. However, you don’t need to implement it across your store. Just one or two carefully-placed shelf units are often all you need to entice customers to return. 

Inclusive Fitting Rooms

Finally, you might want to consider adding inclusive fitting rooms to your store. Spaces that can incorporate mobility aids make it easier for individuals to change clothes and try new outfits. These rooms provide considerably more space than conventional cubicles and may have handrails for additional support and assistance. 

So, there you have it: how to make your retail space more accessible. As you’ve probably noticed, the investment required for many of these strategies is minimal but could have an outsized return. Start implementing the ideas presented here today. 

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