Estimate the costs associated with a retail chain to provide assistance to their shopper who are blind.

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Estimate the costs associated with a retail chain to provide assistance to their shopper who are blind.

The costs associated with a retail chain to provide assistance to their blind shoppers varies widely depending on the number of blind shoppers per day, and the type of assistance being provided. However, through our research, we estimate that the typical retail chain, such as Walmart, could spend as much as $376 per day, if they provided a sighted shopping assistant to as many as 37 blind or visually impaired shoppers per day, which we have further estimated is the average number of blind or visually impaired shoppers per day for a store that receives around 1,229 total shoppers per day. Please note that $376 per day would be a very high-end estimate for such a store, assuming that not every single blind or visually impaired shopper would require a shopping assistant. On average, the typical retail associate makes around $10.16 per hour, and the average shopping trip lasts around 45 minutes, which means the retail store would spend about $7.65, per shopping trip, for every blind shopper who required a shopping assistant.

Additionally, retail stores could potentially provide other types of assistance to blind and visually impaired shoppers in the form of technology based assistance. The cost of offering such a service depends greatly on the type of technology being supplied. Simple magnifying tools can cost less than $20 per tool, whereas a high-tech talking UPC scanning device can cost upwards of $1,000 per device. More simplistic color scanners can cost around $150 per device.

During our brainstorming phase of research, we also noted other types of shopping services that could prove helpful to a blind shopper, such as in-store pick-up services and delivery services. However, the cost of such a service has not been included in this research, as we acknowledged that many retail chain stores already offer these services to their general customer base, and we assume the costs of this service would not differ between the blind and sighted demographics. Given this, we have isolated this research to in-store shopping assistance only.

Since the information you are seeking was not found to be pre-compiled, we performed a series of triangulations and calculations to provide you with an estimate. While you have not specified a geographical region to focus on, we have chosen to focus on U.S. data for this report, as this information is the most readily available.

blind shopping assistance

According to the American Foundation for the Blind, there are three ways in which a blind shopper can be assisted: they can use a portable scanning device which can read product labels, they can use a magnifier, or they can work with a sighted shopping assistant. The AFB gives these options in relation to grocery shopping specifically, however we assume these insights are relevant for most forms of retail shopping. We further assume that the type of assistance required for an individual blind shopper depends on their level of blindness (i.e. someone who has partial vision may not need the same level of assistance as someone who has zero vision), and perhaps the type of shopping they are doing (i.e. an individual may need a different type of assistance for grocery shopping than they would for clothes shopping). Therefore, we have taken a general approach to this research, with all aspects considered.

Next, we will look at costs for each of the assisted shopping approaches outlined above.

cost of sighted shopping assistants

The AFB suggests that blind shoppers in need of a shopping assistant approach the customer service desk in order to request such assistance. Assuming that a general retail associate would be the one to help in such an instance, we located the average hourly pay of such an associate. According to PayScale, retail associates make $10.16 per hour, on average. This works out to around $0.17 per minute, (or 60 minutes per hour / $10.16 per hour). The average shopping trip lasts around 41 minutes. On a weekend, shopping trips take an additional seven minutes on average. Therefore, we will set the mean at around 45 minutes per shopping trip. Given this, it would cost the retail store around $7.65 per shopping trip to assist a blind shopper, (or 45 minutes x $0.17 per minute).

According to the National Federation for the Blind, "10 million Americans are blind or visually impaired." The total population of the U.S. is currently around 327 million. Given this, we calculate that around 3.06% of the U.S. population is blind or visually impaired, (or 10 million is 3.06% of 327 million).

On the whole, Walmart sees about 100,000,000 shoppers per week, and has 11,620 stores worldwide. This equals to an average of 8,606 shoppers per week, per store (or 100,000,000 / 11,620). This further equates to an average of about 1,229 shoppers per day, per store (or 8,606 shoppers per week, per store / 7 days per week). According to a CNBC report in 2017, nearly all Americans spend money at Walmart. We will therefore we will apply the 3.06% noted above, with the assumption that the ratio of blind or visually impaired Walmart shoppers is about equivalent to the national ratio. Given this, we estimate that there are an average of 37 blind or visually impaired shoppers per day at each Walmart store, (or about 3.06% of 1,229 shoppers per day, per store).

If every blind or visually impaired shopper required assistance, we calculate that this would cost the typical Walmart about $375.92 per day, per store to supply a personal shopping assistant for all of these individuals, (or 37 blind and visually impaired shoppers per day x $7.65). This gives us a very high-end estimate of cost, as we assume not every blind or visually impaired shopper would require such assistance and therefore the actual cost is likely to be below this figure.

cost of assistance tools

Another way that a retail store could provide assistance to the blind or visually impaired would be to offer them the use of assistance tools, such as the ones mentioned above by the AFB. The cost of offering such assistance would vary depending on the number and type of assistance tools made available.

The cost of providing such a service could range anywhere from $10 per tool into the thousands of dollars per tool. For instance, a basic handheld magnifying tool typically costs under $20, as seen here. Talking color detectors which scan the color of products and announces it to the shopper costs $149 from MaxiAids. The American Foundation for the Blind also specifically mentions the use of UPC technology, "to help the blind identify products." The first known company to supply such a device was En-Vision America, which makes the 'i.d. mate' [sic]. The i.d. mate is essentially a high-tech talking bar code scanner, which includes a range of beneficial features, and is currently sold for $1,299. The AFB also makes note of various mobile apps that are available which provide a similar type of function.


In closing, the cost for a retail chain store to provide a sighted shopping assistant would cost an average of $7.65 per 45 minute shopping trip, which could cost up to $376 per day for a store that sees around 1,200 shoppers per day, if every blind and visually impaired shopper required an assistant. Technology-based shopping assistance tools can range in price from under $20 for simple magnifiers, to $150 for color scanners, to over $1,000 for high-tech talking UPC readers.

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