- On Monday, Wegmans Food Markets debuted Aira, a mobile app that connects visually impaired customers with a remote agent who can help them navigate through the store and locate items using the shopper's smartphone camera, according to Winsight Grocery Business. The app uses technology with a live camera stream, GPS, maps and information sourced from the web to help the customer.
- A blind or low-vision shopper is able to download the Aira app for free and use the service in any Wegmans location. The app is now available in all 97 of the store's locations in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts.
- The Rochester, N.Y.-based retailer is the first grocery store to debut this technology. Wegmans is Aira's inaugural grocer partner, but the Aira Access Network is already active on hundreds of college campuses and workplaces, as well as 20 major U.S. airports.
Wegmans continues to prioritize high quality customer service for all shoppers with this launch. This isn't the first time the retailer has taken on an initiative to help shoppers with disabilities. In 2015, the retailer installed hearing loops to help those with hearing aids listen more clearly when engaging with employees.
Grocery stores are known for their priority on customer service. In this year's annual survey of retailers by marketing firm KPMG, the grocery sector secured the top spot in consumer satisfaction. Wegmans — referred to by some as the "Disneyland of grocery shopping" — was one of three grocers in the top 10 overall.
The Rochester, N.Y.-based retailer isn’t alone in ramping up customer service offerings and trying out new programs to accommodate all their customers. In recent years, more grocery stores have offered in-store child care services and other offerings for kids, such as free fruit as snacks, to help out families that are shopping. And one of Britain’s largest supermarket chains introduced a weekly quiet hour for customers who struggle with sound that can be often overwhelming with grocery shopping for those on the autism spectrum.
Wegmans' latest step to help the visually impaired navigate their stores goes beyond many other retailers by giving a high tech vital resource to these shoppers. This is a positive development for the nation’s estimated 22 million people who are blind or have low vision. If the app catches on and helps visually impaired consumers shop, it could deepen brand loyalty and further bolster Wegmans' image.