Growth in online shopping has enabled people with disabilities to browse and buy goods without facing the hurdles associated with physically entering a store, or having to rely on others to do their shopping for them.
Even with this advancement, however, few online resources cater specifically for people with disabilities. Recognizing this, eBay Korea recently introduced CarePlus, an exclusive store within their Auction platform, that specializes in the sale of products of interest to handicapped and elderly customers.
The idea was developed, and came to fruition, as a result of the hard work of eBay Korea employees Soon Suk Kim, Jeong Nam Kim and Yun Hui Hong, who is the mother of a disabled child. Hong faced many obstacles raising her child. There was a lack of information and resources about caring for a child with disabilities and it was hard to find the right products she needed to make her daughter’s life easier.
The group campaigned for the specialty shop to not only make it easier for people to find products tailored to their disabilities, but as a place where they could meet like-minded people who were encountering the same issues.
Before launching the site, focus groups were held to discover how disabled people received information, what products they needed and how they purchase these products. Analyzing this information, CarePlus came together out of a necessity to help these people disadvantaged by their incapacity to access shops and services.
Yunhui was confident about the market potential: 2.5 million or 5% of the Korean population are registered as disabled, and there are more affected family members. She believed visualizations of their shopping needs would make the market even bigger.
When deciding on what merchandise to include on the platform, category managers Soon Suk and Jeong Nam at first thought the market would be relatively small. But further investigation revealed that the need was far greater than wheelchairs and bedsore prevention products. For example, there are multiple accessories that supplement wheelchair use such as cup holders and carrying bags, as well as products like reading glasses for people with low visibility, pet collars that make a noise to help guide dogs, and straw cups for people with limited hand function.
While it’s still early days, web traffic is showing that CarePlus has definitely addressed a need in the community. The team hopes the next step is that it will become more than just a shop. “We want to build a community, a place where people with disabilities can connect, gain information and communicate with each other,” says Yun Hui.