Researchers at the University’s Winchester School of Art are developing design solutions to improve older peoples’ experience of supermarket shopping.
The planet’s population is getting older. In the UK, 23 per cent of the population will be over 65 by 2035, while in China more than 487 million people will be aged 60 or over by 2053 – that’s 35 per cent of the country’s population. Finding universal ways to improve the shopping experience for this growing consumer group is therefore of huge interest within the globalised retail industry.
Research by Dr Yuanyuan Yin, Lecturer in Design Management, working in collaboration with Tsinghua University in China, identified various challenges common to UK and Chinese shoppers. Yuanyuan and her team then developed seven innovative product ideas to help tackle these challenges. Some address physical issues – for example, sit-down queuing areas and ‘smart trolleys’ that allow customers to scan items as they go, removing the need to unload and repack them at the checkout. Others, such as the ‘mini-market’ – a scaled-down store that offers the ease of online shopping while still enabling people to come together – recognise the social importance of shopping.
One of the UK’s largest retailers, Sainsbury’s, has already implemented some of the project’s preliminary findings in its stores.
“For example, we identified that consumers have problems with store congestion due to staff working in the aisles. Sainsbury’s has asked staff to work individually in the aisles, rather than two or three staff working together, to help ease this congestion,” says Yuanyuan.
Based on the results of the preliminary study and the significant value of this area of research, the team has been awarded more than £290,000 by the UK Economic and Social Research Council to continue their investigation of older shoppers’ experience at national level in the UK and China.