How the Rise of E-commerce Serves Traditionally-Overlooked Audiences
Today, shopping online is the new normal. It is not uncommon for consumers to get overwhelmed in stores and favor the simplicity of the online marketplace. Or, by the same token, for consumers to feel disappointed by the selection of in-store merchandise and find what they want on the internet.
The internet, in all its vastness, can be the perfect place to find hyper-specific products or products made for a very small or often overlooked audience. Those with disabilities have very few options for in-store shopping, but may be able to find everything they need for their specific lifestyles online.
Disadvantages of brick and mortar stores
Amputees make up one such demographic that can find products specialized for them online. Those who have lost limbs may not be able to certain everyday products. Things like pants, shoes, and socks are often inaccessible to those with physical disabilities or to amputees.
However, the broadness of the online marketplace makes it possible to find specialized products like prosthetic socks that are made specifically for their feet. Being able to find everyday products that fit an amputee’s lifestyle can be life-changing or, at the very least, day-making.
The mere fact that stores for amputees exist online is a win for the disabled and amputee communities. Because they can be reached on the internet, they are more accessible than traditional brick and mortar stores. Those stores could potentially be long distances away from the individuals’ homes, or they may not be as accessible in design.
Narrow hallways and a lack of entrance ramps can make things difficult for anyone who uses wheelchairs, and high shelves can disadvantage those who have lost or were born without arms. And, for people with disabilities that make them non-verbal, being able to shop online can be a much easier option.
E-commerce allows individuals to shop in the comfort of their own homes and at their own pace. They do not have to worry about congested stores filled with people or about having to physically carry their purchases, which can be common concerns for people even in abled communities. Many physical spaces are made for people with traditional bodies, but the internet can work for everyone.
The online status of a store also allows it to operate as more of a boutique or smaller business but with a wide reach. Without a brick and mortar storefront (which can be costly after rent), employee wages and insurance payments, online stores that cater to disabled individuals can provide a smaller quantity but larger variety of products. That way, they can serve more unique needs for their audience. These stores will also likely see more sales because they can reach more people through the internet than in person.
It’s not just physical items that those with disabilities are now more easily able to locate due to the internet. People who may need in-home care services because of their disability or amputee status can find reputable providers from a large database online. There are online communities for people with disabilities or amputees to find friends, plan activities, and date.
The rise of e-commerce has increased the flexibility of shopping for consumers in general. However, it has been particularly helpful for those who are disabled or who have amputated limbs, because the internet opens the door for all kinds of businesses which cater to all kinds of communities.
The ease of access provided to those niche communities, who need more specialized products, is a step in the right direction for disabled and amputee consumers.