PSA: What is a “bargain” really?: Three free ways you can make your business inviting to the disabled.

Everyone has shopped at a discount retailer of some sort. The lure of low prices draws budget crunched consumers in droves buying everything imaginable from groceries to dental work. Add in online retailers and smaller retailers scream with frustration. They can’t afford to compete on price and they can’t stock enough inventory to compete on selection. So how can they compete? By being a better bargain.

When you’re disabled, shopping at brick and mortar stores can feel like punishment. Many stores you go into have aisles that are too narrow to begin with and the addition of those little temporary displays make navigation nearly impossible. There are multiple reasons you can’t reach things and there’s never anyone around when you need them for help. Add in the nightmare of checking out and getting everything to your car and it’s just easier to go online whether you want to or not. It creates an opportunity for smaller retailers to shine.

The way to define your business as the better bargain is to create a better experience overall. With disabled customers, a little can go a long way. Here is a quick list that will help make your business more inviting.

  1. Watch the aisles. Maintaining adequate free space between displays is essential. Wheelchairs, walkers, and crutches demand a minimum clearance. Don’t count on being able to accommodate folks as they come either. In many cases, an aide or family member may come in just to see the lay of the land. If there’s no room, they won’t shop and you’ve probably lost whomever is attending them too.
  2. Help but don’t hover. If disabled people do come to shop, make sure your staff is ready. Hold the door and greet them. Inquire whether they are looking for something specific. Show them where the item is and provide any information you can. If they’re just browsing, get out of the way. Be available should they call but don’t hover over them.
  3. Be careful of obstacles. That lovely drape you have over the table should not get caught on a cane, crutch, foot, walker, or caster. Displays shouldn’t create an obstacle course that needs to be maneuvered through. Be careful that stock is not on the floor to trip the unwary or be crushed by a wheel.

These things, combined with other experiential tactics, can make a huge difference to your bottom line. They don’t just apply to small retailers either. Larger retailers, restaurants, and other businesses can benefit from paying attention to these things. The best part is that it free and pays dividends.

The disabled aren’t generally bad customers either. If they see you are making an effort, they’re generally a forgiving bunch and will simply point out a problem. Even better if you ask them to provide constructive feedback, then act on it, if warranted.

Having a higher price may initially seem unattractive. But when you justify it by providing an outstanding customer experience, your business becomes the very definition of a bargain.

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