The number of consumers with handicaps out there might surprise you. While making your store more friendly to those with various impairments might cost you some time and money, it will make your business a better place for them to shop. That won’t just net you those customers but also likely their friends and family who come with them.
Widen Your Aisles
You’ll likely face minimum aisle widths due to the ADA. However, you can opt to go even wider. Ideally, your aisles can have two wheelchairs going in opposite directions to get past each other. For that matter, you should have wheelchair buggies disabled shoppers can use to get around your store.
Entrances and Exits
In an overly digital and automated age, it can seem actually retro cool to have doors that people need to push or pull to open. Some stores even opt for the seriously vintage vibe that comes with revolving doors. It’s okay to have these for people who can handle them, but at least part of your commercial door systems should include automatic doors that open when people and their movement triggers the sensor. Anyone with a handicap will appreciate that, especially if there are ramps they can also use instead of potentially dangerous stairs.
Permit Service Animals
Some municipalities will have laws forcing you to accept various service animals, but you can usually go looser with your rules. In fact, you can be very accommodating to service animals so they are not only comfortable but welcome in your store. This should get you more business from people needing them.
Your team members hopefully go through training for their specific roles within the store on a general basis, but you should also make sure they are trained on how to help the handicapped customers that come in. Doing so promotes a company culture of sensitivity and inclusion. That should improve morale and set the right town among your staff, but it will also convey to consumers how serious your store is about helping everyone with their needs and shopping.
If you really want to signal to the handicapped community that your store is friendly to them, include handicapped individuals in your marketing. Better yet, hire some of them. Even with laws against handicap discrimination, many disabled people have a hard time finding work. They need a paycheck as much as anyone else.