New World Pukekohe has launched its new Additional Needs programme to create a more inclusive store environment for all shoppers. The Additional Needs programme offerings are available 24/7 for shoppers, but for four days a week from Monday-Thursday 2.30pm-5.30pm, the store will dedicate this time to soften the in-store environment so all shoppers, regardless of their abilities, feel welcome and safe.
“We’ve only been open for about nine months, but have been thinking about what this programme might look like since day one,” said Tim Wilson, New World Pukekohe owner operator. “We’ve worked closely with community groups and listened to what their specific needs are so that the programme reflects what they need, when they need it. Our goal is to provide an inclusive, safe shopping experience for every single customer.”
The store has installed new equipment and staff have learned new skills in order to support individuals with mobility, cognitive, sight or hearing impairments.
“We now have a fully adjustable lux control panel to ensure all store lighting is set to an optimum level for individuals with heightened sensitivities – we aren’t just turning a light switch off and on,” said Wilson. “Throughout the store design process, we also tried removing as much of the colour red as possible, which can be a trigger to those on the autistic spectrum, and we’ll also turn off music and checkout noises during the dedicated timeframe.”
Store staff have also learned basic sign language so they can greet and have a basic level of conversation with hard-of-hearing customers. The store has also added new trolleys to its fleet to simplify manoeuvring around the store: trolleys for kids, trolleys for parents with multiple kids, trolleys which clip onto the frame of wheelchairs and Caroline’s Carts. Caroline’s Carts are designed to provide additional needs customers and their families with a viable option to transport a child (with a weight capacity up to 115 kgs) while they do their grocery shop.
Additionally, the store has installed ‘call points’ throughout the store for individuals who need help finding a product or for customers who need support to finish their shopping.
“We are humbled and thrilled with New World Pukekohe’s new Additional Needs programme,” said Karen Callaghan, Founder of Kaleidocare, a Pukekohe-based inclusive community service group. “This programme goes above and beyond anything else that is out there in New Zealand to cater for those who need just a bit of extra support or resources so they can get on and do their shop with ease.”
Wilson said the store will continue to refine the programme and is eager to hear feedback from the community so they can keep growing the offering to suit what customers need.
“We found through our customer research that a one-hour quiet hour is too limiting or not enough for our additional needs customers. The more flexibility we can provide for our customers, the better experience they’ll have.”