French supermarket chain Casino has joined forces with the “Institut de la Vision” to improve access to its supermarkets for the visually impaired. The first result of that cooperation is a test store in the centre of Paris.
Test store for the visually impaired
The Casino in the rue Moreau (XIIth district) looks like a normal corner store, like countless others in the French capital. Yet, this is a special test laboratory, to see how the chain can help the visually impaired in their shopping.
“We want everyone to come to our stores, so we should think of this group too. And not just our physical stores, but also our web shop and our home delivery service”, says Thibault de Pompery, director of innovation, in newspaper Le Parisien. “Our partnership with the Institut de la Vision is unique and allows us to let the visually impaired test our innovations several times per month.”
New technologies to improve readability
Innovations include new lighting that makes small details on the packaging easier to see and a new type of label that features the most important information more clearly. “Of course, we do not intend to do this for each of our products as that would ruin creativity”, says de Pompery, “but we will apply it for the basic products that everyone uses every day.”
Casino also tests new technologies, like a gadget that lets the customer zoom in on labels and packaging. Another service includes a downloadable map that shows obstacles like doors, stairs and steps, ... The first test phase lasts for six more months, after which test phase two will start: opening a real supermarket that actually incorporates the ideas from the lab and the new technologies. Casino hopes to open that supermarket, also in Paris's XIIth district, in 2012. “If test phase two is a success, Casino will include its conclusions and ideas in all the Casino supermarkets”, says de Pompery.
So why does Casino go through all that effort? “Today, France counts 2 million people with a visual handicap”, says Emmanuel Gutam of the Institut de la Vision. “Many of them are older than 75. But as humans tend to live longer, that number will have doubled by 2040.” Four million people, a consumer base that a supermarket can not afford to neglect.