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Asda trials mobile technology to help blind and partially sighted shoppers navigate the store

Asda is using smartphone technology to improve accessibility. Image courtesy of Asda

Asda is putting mobile technology to work to make it easier for blind and partially sighted shoppers to navigate its Stevenage branch.

Asda says it is the first UK supermarket to trial the use of a smartphone app from GoodMaps in-store. Stevenage was chosen because it is the supermarket’s flagship technology shop. The app works by pinpointing the user’s location to within a metre, and then offering directions to an area or object – from a pharmacy or bathroom to a specific product on the shelves – through audio, enlarged visual and touch commands. The app is designed to help shoppers with visual impairments, but can also be used by a wide range of people. 

Kane Stephenson, inclusion manager at Asda, says: “We strive to be an inclusive business and that includes making it easier for all of our customers to carry out a shop in one of our stores. We hope that by working with GoodMaps we can understand how we can make the in-store experience better for our blind and partially sighted customers. 

“Our Stevenage store is the ideal testing ground for this tool with it already being home to a number of tech trials including electronic shelf labels and holograms, and this trial will teach us how we can make shopping in Asda easier for customers with additional needs.’’

GoodMaps, based in the US, aims to improve the accessibility of indoor spaces through navigation. It does that by creating and maintaining accurate digital maps with indoor positioning technology. 

 Neil Barnfather, VP Europe at GoodMaps, says: “It has been a real delight to work with Asda on this project. Recognising not only the commercial value in providing an enhanced retail experience to shoppers, but, equally the ethical stance taken by Asda in this regard has been both humbling and demonstrative of a corporate culture determined to make their offering not only inclusive but truly outstanding for all.”

Asda is an Elite retailer in RXUK Top500 research. 

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