Christmas time at a shopping centre

Purple Christmas Shopping

Blog by Mike Adams

Over the weekend I had the conversation I always dread:  we need to think about starting our Christmas shopping!  I am simply a person who doesn’t particularly like shopping.  And an old Scrooge when it comes to the festive season.  I can hear myself saying it only comes once a year and only lasts a day.

But the conversation this year was slightly different.  By shopping my partner meant online purchases alongside the more traditional shopping centres.  Black Friday has become a new phrase in the lexicon.

Purple is just about to ask other disabled people the same set of questions as my last weekend conversation.  How do you approach the Christmas shopping experience?  Do you intend to buy presents instore, online or a blend?  Have your intentions evolved from previous years?  And probably and most crucially what do you see as the key factors in making your experience accessible?

Two weeks ago Purple ran a webinar on why accessible websites matter.  The evidence is pretty compelling.  The click away pound – disabled people leaving a website due to accessibility – is a lost opportunity to UK plc worth around £11 billion a year.  Evidence suggests that disabled people are increasingly using the internet as their preferred method of shopping and that as a defined target group we are more loyal to brands than the average consumer.

But online shopping is not the silver bullet.  Apparently, people go to shopping centres for the experience!  And part of that (positive) experience aligns to good customer experience.  Which brings me to our webinar last week on how do businesses upskill their workforce to deliver excellent customer services.  If you want practical hints and tips on both issues you can view them by signing up for free to our website or by becoming a Purple Member by clicking here.

So back to my arrangements.  This year I have an iPad with an accessible stylus which I hold in my mouth so excuses of online shopping not being accessible for me have gone.  My kids have already gone through the catalogues – note very few hard catalogues now exist as most are online – and given me a huge list of potential presents.  They have even given me the individual reference numbers to help me out.  And my partner has dropped enough subtle hints over the last 12 months to ensure the idea box is full!

Shopping centres are fully starting to engage in understanding the instore experience needs to be fully accessible.  Some are further on the journey than others. Purple is about to launch the next phase of our Help Me Spend My Money campaign supporting retailers and those in the hospitality sector to understand and make the necessary changes.  Customer services in all forms is central to that transformation alongside more traditional physical access issues.

So, in terms of my personal experience, I have concluded the one thing that really needs to change is me!  I will use Twitter and Instagram to let you know how I get on!

The findings of our wider survey with disabled people will be out just in time for Christmas.

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