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accessible shopping

Nottingham Trent University School of Art & Design Institute of Vocational Education – Hong Kong


2018 / 2019



Module reference: FASH30006


Module Leader: Cassandra Ng

Module Name Declaration This submission is the result of my own work. All help and advice other than that received from tutors has been acknowledged and primary and secondary sources of information have been properly attributed. Should this statement prove to be untrue, I recognize the right and duty of the Board of Examiners to recommend what action should be taken in line with the University’s regulation on assessment contained in its handbook. I confirm that this work has gained ethical approval and that I have faithfully observed the terms of the approval in the conduct of this project.

Signed ………………………………………………………………(Full Name)…Hui Sau Fan, Carol … Date ………11/03/2019………………………………………… (Word Count:4057)

CONTENTS 1.Introduction 2.Research Objectives 3.Research Methodology 4.Findings 5.Conclusion and Implication

According to the Trailblazers’ High streets report (2014), they reported issues of retailers misusing fitting room, toiles and lifts. For examples, the retailer uses space and specific equipment used by disabled as storage space. Also, 75% respondents responded said they were forced to restrict shopping on the Internet because of the lack of practical channels, which led to the way to shop in the city center or surrounding areas. For my observation in difference retail store and shopping experience, many wheelchair users are neglected by sales associate or shoppers when they enter the store, and they feel ‘invisible’. Under the Hong Kong Government's legislation (Cap 123F Building (Planning) Regulations reg. 72) (L.N. 239 of 1997), it is necessary to divide and establish some disabled facilities in all newly established buildings. Many public places, such as restaurants and shopping malls, also have wheelchair-friendly toilets and wheelchair zones. Despite the continuous improvement of wheelchair technology, disabled people still face some restrictive barriers to activities. A good example is shopping. Wheelchair users' inability to access goods on shelves has always been a problem. The purpose of this report was to provide and recommend the use of hightech tools in the retail industry and bring out the benefits of high-tech tools for wheelchair users. It brings consumers of wheelchair users the same shopping environment as ordinary people.

01. Introduction

The objective of this research is to propose and help the wheelchair user to solve the shopping issues, wish to enhance the shopping environment and retail service for the wheelchair user. Furthermore, the fashion retailer in Hong Kong for disabled person assist tools is not enough. The research was conceptualized in three levels, first is the comment of general people for wheelchair users in fashion store, second is shopping behavior of wheelchair user and lastly is understanding the current fashion retailer missing and ignored the problem.

Research Objectives

First of all, this questionnaire will send 50 copies on the web as a quantitative survey. The purpose of this questionnaire was to understand Hong Kong consumers' opinions of the current shopping environment and their perception of the disabled equipment in fashion store. Finally, I want to know their views on the application of high-tech tools to fashion retailers. Secondly, the objective of the survey analysis was to understand how wheelchair users are currently shopping problem in fashion store, to help them enjoy the shopping process. Subsequently, based on the wheelchair user the needs and wants, to recommend the retailer apply different high-tech tools in store, to let them more easily into the store try outfits and choose fashion items. For specifically, the objective was to enhance the convenience of wheelchair users when shopping in stores and the advantages and disadvantages of high-tech tools used by fashion retailers at that time. Last but not least, the mall and shop visit is one of the important part of primary research. It can let us more understanding the missing and problem ignored by current fashion retailers about wheelchair users market.

Research Objectives

Literature Review According to the Persons with Disabilities and Chronic Diseases in Hong Kong (2015), the number of Persons with Restriction in body movement is growing 1.75 % in 2007 to 2013 (Fig1, further detail in Appendix A). In addition, compared with the number and ratio of other disability categories, the handicapped person (limited mobility) in types of disability for the highest proportion. The wheelchair user is one of the larger group in handicapped type, it has many reasons to use the wheelchair such as long or short-term use, inborn or acquired cause limited mobility etc. At the same time, some wheelchair users have the ability of self-care or simple activities.

(Fig 1, showing the growing rate in Restriction in body movement)

Research Methodology

‘The physical store must evolve to include elements of the virtual world as customer demand for an integrated experience across channels grows.’ (Lynda Rose Poloian, 2013).

The 21st century is an era of electronic products. Many stores use electronic products and guests as an interactive way, to use the media to stimulate competition in the tight retail industry. Social change, the importance of electronic tools in our lives is growing. Some stores use magic mirrors (Fig 2) to allow friends in remote locations to watch and discuss the try-on effect from online. Also, the customer can use this magic mirror to choose the style, color and silhouette of your clothes. Due to many fashion retailers nowadays attach great importance to how to establish channels of contact with customers and enhance the customer relationship management (CRM) as purpose, it is necessary to include virtual elements in physical stores in order to provide customers with immersive and meaningful brand experience (Fig 3), integrate commercial and high-tech tools into physical retail store. It can promote experience brand of an immersive, to encourage customers to participate in the conversation about products, experiences, and the brand.

Research Methodology

(Fig 2, The magic mirrors supplied by Augmented reality (AR), it can create seamlessly consumption experience in physical stores.)

(Fig 3, In the try on clothing process, the customer can get the interesting brand experience)

In January 2017, GAP launched a digital dressing room (Fig 4), partnered by Avametric in collaboration with Google, which allows customers to ''try on'' clothes without entering the store. By allowing customers to try on clothes virtually, there is no limit to the number of products they can try on. This allows customers to spend more time to explore more clothes in the store, Then, the Augmented Reality(AR) supported from online to offline which can reduce the number of products returned. AR can also solve the confusion of try products in physical stores and less the waiting time for the fitting room. Owing to the report of Short-changed (muscular dystrophy campaign group Trailblazers, 2014), Laura Bizzey (survey participants) said that no matter how much preparation was made before shopping, problems would arise. As the wheelchair users could not walk normally entered the store. This means that they can't move freely in any area of the store, such as the narrow route between clothes rails and steps, which mean they can't out of bounds to browse in the whole store (Fig 5).

Research Methodology

(Fig 4, Some fashion brands have also begun to exploit more opportunities with A R, and A R has become popular among fashion brands)

(Fig 5, the clothes rails are too close to have a good passageway for the wheelchair user into the store)

Definition Handicap: Limb disability refers to the physical and mental impairment of the central and peripheral nervous system, trauma or other congenital musculoskeletal system, so that some or more aspects of daily activities are hindered or restricted (GovHK, 2016). Wheelchair user: Physical disabilities may be congenital or result from accidents or diseases. They include impairment, deformity or amputation of upper or lower limb(s), Some physically handicapped persons who have difficulty in walking need to use wheelchairs (Labour Department, HKSARG, 2014). Accessibility Service: Apart from considering the various barrier-free needs in the "hardware" of appearance, architecture and facilities, it also includes some "software" services to enhance the appreciation of interest and meet specific needs, including: sign language interpretation, visual interpretation, access to subtitles, dictation Video, guide, tactile production, Braille file creation and consulting services (Freeguider, 2017).

Research Methodology

Primary Research Methods THE DISABLED EQUIPMENT IN THE RETAIL INDUSTRY QUESTIONNAIRE The questionnaire was called ‘High-tech with wheelchair user in the retail’, it sent 50 copies on web including Association of Women with Disability Hong Kong (AWDHK) and Facebook etc. The survey was created with a methodology designed to achieve the following goals: 1) To understand the Hong Kong consumers’ opinions on the current shopping environment 2) To count the consumer's perception of the disabled equipment of the fashion retailer. 3) To obtain the views on applying the high-tech tools into the fashion store by Hong Kong consumer 4) To assist the wheelchair user in the shopping process more convenience

Research Methodology

Primary Research Methods FACE TO FACE INTERVIEW WITH WHEELCHAIR USER This interview as a qualitative survey, to interview four wheelchair users and caregivers, they have more than 10 years of experience in using wheelchairs. I hope to use this interview to know more about the wheelchair user the shopping problem in fashion store and shopping behavior and what is the current fashion retailer missing and ignored them. After this interview, they all agree the current fashion store is not convenient for them the shop or browsing. Also, the sales assistant can't provide the good sales service to the special need customers. Therefore, they are afraid to shop in physical stores. The reasons are mainly divided into three main points. Firstly, they are afraid to disturb the sales assistant in the shop. Many times, the sales assistant's attitude is not good, and his behavior shows that he does not want them to enter the shop. Then there is the lack of space in the shop, they enter the shop does not allow with the wheelchair, it will affect other customers because wheelchair blocked the passageway in store. Finally, the display shelves in the shop will affect their wheelchair walking and easy damaged the products. For example, the shelves are above the horizontal level they can extract, and the hangers are too heavy for them to move to select clothes.

Research Methodology

Primary Research Methods MALL AND SHOP OBSERVATION Hong Kong has a reputation as a ''shopping paradise''. Products of all grades can be found in Hong Kong. Retail is also an important pillar of Hong Kong. One of the major shopping malls in Hong Kong is located in the Harbour City of Tsim Sha Tsui. The mall has both international brands and good quality goods at low prices. Customers can find all kinds of products in the mall. However, the gateway in the mall for the wheelchair is cannot find in the mall main entrance (Fig6,7), the wheelchair user need to call mall security or go to car park into the mall from back door

Fig6,7, The front and side doors of Harbour City are all staircases or escalators.

Research Methodology

Primary Research Methods MALL AND SHOP OBSERVATION Hong Kong is mainly divided into four categories: Hong Kong, British, Japanese and Chinese. The most popular department store is SOGO Department Store because its products are more popularization, the customer can find necessities and non-necessities in SOGO Department Store. Brands and counter in the mall and department stores have the problems of insufficient space (Fig8) and too close racks (Fig9). This problem not only invariably affects the entry of wheelchair users, but also affects the flow management of shops. When there are too many customer, it is easy to cause congestion or confusion.

Fig8, At the corner there is a mirror blocking the space of the passageway.

Fig9, The distance between the rack and the rack is too close for the wheelchair to walk smoothly in this passage.

Research Methodology

Primary Research Methods MALL AND SHOP OBSERVATION There are all kinds of shopping venues in all districts of Hong Kong, and the shopping malls in each district are also suitable for customers with different consumption power. Among these strengths and opportunities, the lack of space in Hong Kong's shops and the imperfection of hard equipment (such as disability equipment) have led to the loss of more consumer and wheelchair users for consumption. In addition, at the same time, it has become a threat to retailers' turnover, because they cannot take into account the needs of consumers, the brands' competitors can absorb this group of consumers, make it as the brand weakness.

Research Methodology

Findings Finding 1: Responder uniformly stated that the retail stores were not enough the disability equipment and that almost have a perception for wheelchair users. During the results of the questionnaire, I received all the respondents who said they felt that the current disabled equipment in retail stores was inadequate. Also 75% of the respondents said they would focus on information such as wheelchair users (Appendix 8). In view of this, consumers in Hong Kong have knowledge of the disabled. They are also aware that the hardware or software equipment of the current retail environment in Hong Kong cannot meet the needs of the disabled consumers, so that they do not have a convenient and smooth shopping journey. In the hardware equipment part, the mall cannot provide the user-friendly tools to assist the wheelchair user into the mall for browsing and shopping. This shows that the shopping mall does not take into account the needs of wheelchair users, so how can retailers perceive the need to care about wheelchair users when shopping and actively build corresponding auxiliary equipment in the store. In addition, they will have a preconceived feeling, because wheelchair users or people with disabilities do not have high spending power. However, in my observations and interviews with the respondents, wheelchair users actually no need to spend a long time in shopping process, and they have a high consumption power because they are purposeful to go shopping. As stated by Miss Chris (take care for wheelchair user over 12 years’ experience), when they need to buy something such as daily necessaries and clothing, they cannot select the brand or model because they were inconvenient and feeling awkward when into the store.


Findings Finding 2: Most respondents stated they wanted a friendly and warm shopping experience. In order to the shopping process, 80% of respondents said they wanted to feel friendly and warm (Appendix 11), which is an important part of customer service management (CSM) that retailers have been advocating. By the gentle service to improve customer satisfaction and build up customer loyalty. Nevertheless, wheelchair users have never tried gentle service. As I know, when the wheelchair users into the store the sales assistant too often ignored them even that into the store is a plus-size woman, the assistant willing to service them first. The wheelchair user only can look around or window shopping in the store outside. Because the assistant feels they cannot to try on and undress the clothing. But I think it is wrong concept, they have self-care ability jest need a little be help. According to Miss Carmen (PDip(Health Counseling), MSW, RSW), most wheelchair users feel pressure during the shopping process, mainly for two reasons, one is the attitude and performance of the sales assistant, the other is that they cannot get satisfaction and security in the shopping process. So that, the service and environment affect the sales expression in retail. They are willing to take transportation or walk out of the street is more difficult than people with healthy limbs. Why cannot retailers give them an unforgettable shopping experience when the wheelchair user tries to visit the store is a problem. On the contrary, the shopping experience offered to them at present is unpleasant and stressful.


Findings Finding 3: The store road congestion and space too narrow. For the questionnaire and interview, participants uniformly stated that the retail store and the road was congestion and narrow (Appendix 14). As far as I know, the most ideal visual marketing should have two people's body distance to facilitate customers to walk on the corridor. But according to Miss Sandy (Drama actress with physical disabilities), the clothes racks is too high and displayed too intensive items (Fig10). It is difficult for wheelchair users to choose products. Also, the wheelchair cannot rotate or pass between the racks and store, the wheelchair walking between racks is very easy to touch clothes, making clothes dirty. They only go out during off-peak hours, including shopping malls or restaurants.

Fig 10, The upper shelf higher than the extractable horizontal position of the wheelchair user. Findings

Findings Finding 3: The store road congestion and space too narrow. In addition, this also reduces their shopping pleasure and cannot buy the ideal style of clothing. They have a mentality of 'if I can buy it, is my lucky'. They have no right to choose. At the same time, they are also urged to shop in online stores, because online stores do not need to have direct contact with the sales assistant, let alone worry about affecting the environment of retail stores, but there are certain risks when shopping in online stores. For example, the quality of products, the size and the style are not as ideal. Second, returning goods is also a difficult thing for them, because they don't go out very often. According to Miss Lam Wing Yi (Wheelchair users for more than 10 years) description, she usually only goes to Kwai Chung Plaza and other boutique shops for clothing shopping. But she is a young girl, who has the pursuit of clothing or fashion stylish, and they hope to arrive some fashion brands to buy some fashionable clothing items. Unfortunately, it is not easy for wheelchair users to go out that it also makes them feel embarrassed and stressed. Because wheelchair design and some store anti-theft devices often resonate, when the store alarm sounds, it will make them feel embarrassed.


Findings Finding 4: Sustainability issues Due to the rapid development of omni-channel, wheelchair users are not easy to shop in physical stores. They often choose to shop in online stores, such as Taobao, because Taobao offers a wide range of products, low prices and faster delivery time than large foreign websites (ASOS and eBay). Four interviewees also said that they all had the habit of shopping in online stores, accounting for 80% of the sources of shopping. But they will inevitably encounter inferior quality or choose the wrong clothes. Asked how to deal with bad clothes or inappropriate styles, they said they would give them to friends, but most clothes are not necessarily suitable for every friend, because the deviation in body shape varies from person to person. So many times the new clothes bought online can only be put in the wardrobe. Nowadays, sustainability is important things in global. If the consumer after buying feel the items is not fit or inferior quality, they don't wear these clothes or they can wear it for a long time. Also, the return policy for wheelchair user is an inconvenience, they give up or miss the return period. This will have an impact on the ecological environment, because consumers do not wear clothes after they buy them, but piled up in the wardrobe at home. Over time, clothes will also be forgotten in the corner of the home, which is also unable to use clothes valuable.


Findings Finding 5: Social ethical sustainability There is a trend of globalization for enterprises to fulfill their corporate social responsibility (CSR). Many listed companies also participate in different sustainable development projects or pay attention to related issues. The Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) interprets corporate social responsibility as ''we regard corporate social responsibility as our business philosophy and create shared sustainable value for stakeholders at the economic, social and environmental levels.'' This means that in order to create profits, the company must consider the impact on all aspects, including employees, customers, communities and the environment. It is obvious that many retailers ignore wheelchair users. Because they feel wheelchair customer need to invest more resources to them, and they are only a small group of customers, failing to bring the company considerable profit figures and sales. In view of this, they intentionally or unintentionally neglected a group of customers in need, who were untapped markets in the retail industry. In addition, when they try to invest resources in wheelchair users or disabled people, retailers not just only get the honor of social corporate responsibility, but also build a good brand image through this action.


Findings Finding 6: Apply the high-tech in retail environment The high technological products are closely related to our current life, and sometimes people cannot be separated from the support of high-tech products. In western countries, the use of some technology products in popular brands is also very common. After browsing the data search, two high-tech tools are found which are most suitable for wheelchair users by fashion retailers. First is the magic mirror. Next is the rotating wardrobe. For magic mirrors, they are widely used in high street brands such as UNIQLO, GAP and Topshop. This magic mirror can show your choice of clothes on the screen. When you are changing clothes, there is no upper limit and no need for undress clothes. It can also display clothes on your body. It can also send styling photos to share with friends on the Internet immediately. This magic mirror can solve the problem of wheelchair users not being able to enter stores and needing more time to try on clothes in retail stores. At the same time, the clothes shelf and display fixture placement problem have also been solved. As far as rotating wardrobes are concerned, 85% responder in the questionnaire agrees that rotating wardrobes should be added to the retail sales process (Appendix 15,16,17). It operates simply by connecting smart phones in stores so that consumers can easily pick out different clothes and deliver them to the front. At the same time, this can reduce the problems faced by wheelchair users in the process of clothing selection, including overweight hangers, too high shelf and too dense items. Finally, all four interviewees expressed their interest in magic mirrors and rotating wardrobes and felt that adding both tools to fashion retail stores would increase their visits to stores and thus enhance their shopping pleasure. In addition, these two tools are not only for wheelchair users, but also for other customers. They can also reduce the confusion caused by too many customers in the shop during busy hours (Appendix 18).


Findings Finding 7: Western countries VS Hong Kong In some Western fashion brands or websites, there are rules that are specifically for wheelchair users or people with disabilities. For example, Asos is praised for selling wheelchair users'special clothes, and eBay has developed a head tracking software to facilitate users with limited limbs. By contrast, Hong Kong's regulations or consumer protection for wheelchair users are relatively weak. The store entrance is the biggest problem for disabled customers. Brands in some western countries will set up a separate entrance and some walkers for disabled visitors. So that, if Hong Kong retailers want to enhance their competitive advantage and attract more customers, it will be a good choice to try to cater to the market of the disabled. The key is to consider the convenience between customers entering and leaving the store, so retailers should create an accessible environment to meet physically disabled consumers.


Conclusion and Implication In conclusion, primary to secondary information is searched for the current fashion retail environment in Hong Kong and the satisfaction of Hong Kong customers with the current retail environment, as well as the difficulties encountered by wheelchair users in the retail process. Although Hong Kong has a wide range of international fashion brands, it is also a city relying on retail development. However, according to various sources, Hong Kong retailers have not invested their resources in disabled equipment, and they have neglected the shopping needs of wheelchair users and people with physical disabilities. Even under the legal protection of the Hong Kong government, the construction of disabled equipment in some shopping malls is still imperfect and problematic. Passageway and display shelves in stores also affect wheelchair users entering stores with auxiliary equipment. Therefore, I hope this report can provide constructive suggestions to the current retail industry, hoping that they can adopt some high-tech tools in retail stores, so that wheelchair users can enjoy the shopping process and fun just like normal people. In addition, the goal is to solve the problems wheelchair users encounter when shopping and to improve the overall shopping environment and retail services to wheelchair users. As suggested, magic mirrors and rotating wardrobes these tools can help the fashion store in the small space to stock management and display many clothes and without affecting the wheelchair's user. The tools are easy to control and take up no space, this can solve many problems for the retail industry, but also for wheelchair users to pay more attention, in these actions behind the retail brand can also get a good social image and establish a credible brand image in the public mind. More importantly, when retailers create an accessible shopping environment for physically disabled consumers, it will not only bring more excellent competitiveness and considerable sales turnover to the company. I stage 3 I will propose this high-tech into some international fashion brand such as H&M, Zara and UNIQLO HK. Because these brands provide affordable price and fashionable clothing and the public, and also advocate the promotion of social sustainability concepts. Conclusion and Implication

Author by Hui Sau Fan, Carol

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Accessible Shopping@Stage 2  

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