Barriers to shopping not good for business

The Business Disability Forum in the UK has an interesting report on the barriers people with disability face as shoppers and consumers. Whether online, by phone or in person, these barriers are not good for business or consumers. And it’s likely it’s difficult for almost everyone if the process is not universally designed.

A small cardboard box sits across a keyboard. The words on the box say online shopping.

The Business Disability Forum asked survey participants about specific barriers to shopping for products and services.

They asked respondents if they have any difficulties with access or engaging in the buying process. The key areas were going to restaurants, cafes and pubs; buying clothes or shoes, and personal and online banking. These were followed by pursuing a hobby, buying insurance and dealing with utility suppliers.

A restaurnt table laid with breakfast foods. It looks out to a water view with small boats.

An online survey and focus groups (around 650 people with disabilities and conditions) found almost everyone was impacted in some way.

The next most challenging activities were booking a holiday, booking tickets, buying large electrical appliances, and buying new devices.

  • Limitation of design – products, service or venues not being inclusive or lacking accessibility features.
  • Limitations in available information.
  • The way in which information was presented.

More than half the respondents said their choice of products or services was limited by design, and by the availability of information. It was also limited by the way it was presented.

A significant number (43%) abandoned the shopping task early or just didn’t buy. It was the same for going into shops in person.

The title of the resource is, What disabled consumers choose to buy and why – Barriers to buying. Forbes online magazine also has an article on the report.

Also have a look at See here: I want to go shopping for the shopping experience of people who are blind.

Design for shopping: a holistic approach

overhead picture of the fresh food section of a supermarket. Shopping - a holistic approach.

The recent pandemic curtailed shopping in the high street and in malls. When the lockdowns were lifted the rush to the shops shows how much people enjoy shopping. Younger people talk of retail therapy, but for older people it is an important social activity, particularly those who live alone. So every part of “design for shopping” needs to be inclusive. 

Elnaz Davoudi from the San Francisco State University conducted an in-depth study of older people and their shopping habits. This included shadowing them as they made their way around a supermarket. The whole experience is documented and their are several design conclusions to be drawn from this work.

Shopping carts, check outs, product packaging and much more are open for improved designs. The findings can also be generalised to other design disciplines. It is good to see a holistic approach in this research, not just the design of, say, a shopping trolley, or the product packaging.

The article is titled, Designing a Better Shopping Experience with a Holistic Approach to Ageing in Place. It is on page 21 in the Design for All newsletter from 2016.

Accessibility Toolbar