According to the CDC, 26 percent of adults in the U.S. have a physical disability. With nearly one in four adults facing mobility, cognitive, hearing, vision, or other limitations, it’s no wonder that accessibility has become a vital issue.
For many corporate boards, ESG (environmental, social, governance) reports are now part of regular public disclosures to inform customers, investors, and the public about their commitments to making a difference. ESG reports cover sustainability measures, ethical standards, and guidelines for how the company will treat employees, shareholders, and the communities in which they operate. One big concern for corporate board ESG efforts is accessibility.
Meanwhile, changes driven by the pandemic to the habits of both consumers and retailers have resulted in major shifts in how people shop. For example, shoppers want a seamless experience with both online and in-person interactions. As retailers look to implement a hybrid shopping experience, they are rightfully focused on increasing sales, customer satisfaction, and ROI. That being said, one overlooked benefit of technical advances in hybrid shopping is the potential for meaningful improvements in accessibility for those consumers that have a disability.
Video and Chat Technologies Provide Better Accessibility to Shoppers with Disabilities
New hybrid shopping technologies can enable customers to research potential purchases online, connect with a live agent via chat to answer questions, take a virtual tour of a showroom floor, or schedule an appointment online to meet a salesperson in-store. While this increased flexibility is great for all customers, and can mean increased sales for retailers, these hybrid customer experience technologies can be a game changer for shoppers with disabilities.
A customer with mobility issues may not be able to visit a furniture store and wander around looking for the ideal sofa. However with improved accessibility, that customer can now connect via video chat with a sales agent who can listen to their criteria, discuss the dimensions of the space where the new furniture will go, and offer some product choices. The sales agent can take the customer onto the sales floor via high-definition video and provide a detailed, live look at specific pieces of furniture. Video and chat technologies can provide greater access to customers who previously might have struggled to navigate the store, or just simply not purchased a new sofa due to the barriers they faced accessing the store.
A customer who recently used hybrid shopping said this: “This was a FANTASTIC experience! Not only did we not have to drive 75 minutes to talk to someone, we did it from our kitchen and got A+++ service. We are repeat customers and having service like this is why we keep coming back. The agent answered all of our questions and was extremely knowledgeable of the products and policies.”
Hybrid Shopping Can Boost to ESG Efforts
Individual attention from a knowledgeable online sales agent will thrill any customer, whether they are shopping for furniture, jewelry, cosmetics, or thousands of other items. Video and text chat can help provide a hands-on shopping experience to any at-home consumer, and it can open up new possibilities for people who struggle to access stores due to disabilities This retail customer saw value in being able to shop remotely: “The sales agent was very helpful and answered all my questions. It is the coolest thing to actually see someone without having to leave me house. Amazing!”
While sales and marketing teams may be focused on building a hybrid shopping platform to address the needs of consumers who have become more accustomed to shopping online, corporate boards should not miss out on the additional benefits that these technologies can deliver for accessibility efforts.
Vee24 has an omnichannel platform that can help retailers connect online shoppers to in-store associates through video and text engagements. In addition to chat features, the platform includes co-browsing features that can enable screen sharing or co-form filling, as well as online scheduling that can assist customers in booking appointments with both online customer care agents and in-store sales staff. Vee24 can help retailers bridge the gap between online and in-store shopping, helping those with disabilities gain access to the same expertise and attention that in-store shoppers receive.
Are your ready to expand your reach to customers and make your business more accessible to all? Learn about DFS and how they brought the in-person shopping experience online.