The Southern Co-operative installs in store magnifiers in visionary move to help customers

Reading food labelling on packaging has been made a lot easier for shoppers with poor eyesight, thanks to the provision of i-viewer shelf mounted magnifiers at The Southern Co-operative stores across southern England.

The Southern Co-operative was the first multiple retailer in the UK to install the award winning i-viewers, which are designed to help people with eyesight problems read food labels more easily.

i-viewer magnifier in The Southern Co-operative stores

Following successful trials in five of its Hampshire stores, The Southern Co-operative has now installed over 380 i-viewers in around 30 stores and is rolling them out across its estate in southern England.

The in-store magnifiers are proving invaluable for shoppers wanting to check ingredients. Particularly for those who suffer from allergies or an intolerance to certain foods, people on low-salt or calorie-controlled diets, diabetics who read the sugar content, and coeliacs who need to check for gluten.

According to research conducted with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), 83 per cent of people surveyed said they had problems with reading small product labels, while 60 per cent of spectacle wearers said they forgot them regularly when shopping. In addition, twenty million people in the UK suffer from allergies. Robin Spinks, Principal Manager, at RNIB said: “Shopping can be a challenging and frustrating experience for persons with poor eyesight; i-viewer is an excellent example of how a simple and affordable adjustment can make a big difference for very many people.”

Steve Tremlett, The Southern Co-operative’s Head of Retail Business Development, said: “We are always looking for opportunities to improve customer service. Having received very positive feedback from customers and colleagues during our i-viewer trials, we’ve been rolling these out since last Autumn in our new and refurbished stores. I believe this is a very effective way of enhancing the shopping experience for customers who have sight problems, or who just want to be able to read product labels more easily. The Southern Co-operative is proud to be the UK’s first multiple retailer to have the foresight to install these.” The instore i-viewers also complement The Southern Co-operative’s range of daily living aids available online (, to help people who experience difficulties caused by age, disability, illness or accident.

i-viewer magnifier in The Southern Co-operative stores close up

Stuart Kimber from i-viewer ltd said: “The need to read product labels is an everyday reality for those with dietary and health needs and we are delighted that ‘The Southern Co-operative’ included ‘i-viewer’ shelf magnifiers as part of their roll out program in their new and refurbished stores, making them the first independent UK co-operative to do so; this is great news for those shoppers struggling to read what affects them on the product they choose to buy and demonstrates an excellent customer care ethic too.”

Customers’ comments demonstrating the value of i-viewer in The Southern Co-operative’s stores have included: “I have cataracts, so the magnifier is very helpful”, “I am diabetic and need to read contents, I forget my glasses sometimes” and “I find it most helpful because my reading glasses are hard to find in my bag and its much easier to take the product to the magnifying glass”. The i-viewer won the ‘Great New Idea’ award at the National Convenience Show in 2012.