Retailers step up to improve customer experience for disabled people
Household names including Sainsbury’s, M&S and Blakemore Retail joined hundreds of other retailers today to improve the customer experience for disabled people by supporting Purple Tuesday, which took place on Tuesday 12 November.
Multiple shopping centres, including Bluewater and Intu, are also participating, and Westfield have taken the initiative international at their centres in Europe.
New research published for Purple Tuesday reveals that poor customer service and a lack of staff understanding are among the key barriers preventing disabled consumers from purchasing goods and services.
The research has prompted calls for businesses and organisations to rethink how they target disabled consumers and their families, whose spending power, branded The Purple Pound, is estimated to be £249bn every year.
Sainsbury’s and Argos, launched a new trial of a weekly ‘Sunflower Hour’ in 30 stores, which involves creating a calmer environment by reducing background noise and sensory overload. The trial gives customers the option to pick up a sunflower lanyard which has been purposely designed to act as a discreet sign for store colleagues to recognise if they may need to provide a customer with additional support.
Microsoft Store has committed to educating not only the community but retail businesses on how to create accessible retail experiences, work environments and improving the lives of customers and employees living with disabilities.
M&S ran a colleague campaign “Making Every Day Accessible” introducing a number of resources for colleagues including a top tips for being disability confident video, a guide on how to run sensory friendly shopping hours and a new ‘hard of hearing’ uniform.
And Blakemore Retail is providing training for 4300 staff and making training available to their 700 independent SPAR Retailers.
Mike Adams OBE, Chief Executive of Purple, said: “Meeting the needs of disabled customers makes commercial sense for organisations of all sizes, from all sectors, but our message to organisations is: you don’t have to spend big budgets to make lasting change. That’s why we’re urging organisations to focus on improvements that go ‘beyond the front door’. Introducing staff training and improving website accessibility are low cost changes, but the difference to a company’s bottom line – as well as to a disabled consumer’s personal experience – can be significant.
“Purple Tuesday has more than doubled in size this year, with more than 2000 organisations from a variety of sectors making commitments to improve the customer experience for disabled people. These are long-term changes that will have a lasting impact for millions of customers – and improve the commercial opportunities for the organisations involved.”