How to sell comfort: Wellness as the key to ergonomics

Ergonomics – the result of industrialisation

Wojciech Jastrzebowski was the man who in 1857 came up with the idea of turning this into an independent science that centres on people's general well-being – those were the early days of industrialisation, a time when working conditions were anything but humane. The Polish native termed this new discipline manpower studies, or ergonomics in the scientific publication Natur und Industrie. It is a word that is composed of Ergon = work, and Nomos = law. However, this designation fell into oblivion soon after, until Hywel Murrell also started to use the ancient Greek word combo in England as from 1949. In the fifties, ergonomics societies formed across Europe and beyond, which often featured the term ergonomics in their name (see also Chair of Ergonomics, Technical University of Munich)

Ergonomics is gaining importance

The World Health Organization (WHO) established the promotion of health in its Ottawa Charter in 1986. It specifies, amongst other things, that health must be restored time and again under constantly changing life and working conditions. Even the WHO has been using this definition to this day. Europe-wide, the basic DIN EN ISO 26800 Ergonomics - General approach, principles and concepts standard, published in November 2011, applies today. 

Ergonomics for stationery in the retail trade

Ergonomic products, in the broadest sense, include equipment and tools that are adapted to human movements, but also the respective furniture that is used to create a pleasant working environment. It is founded on many regulations, standards, and laws. These are compelling arguments for the expert , that should be included in customer consultations. Many consumers care about purchasing ergonomic products, but they are not aware of the requirements that need to be fulfilled. For this very reason, stationery retailers and specialist stores for school satchels need well-trained staff that are capable of drawing the buyer's attention to aspects of ergonomics, and to cover this advice-intensive topic.

Include feelgood concepts in the display of products

In the era of digitalisation and during the months where, to protect oneself against corona, one country after the other ordered pupils to be schooled at home and even the entire working population was sent home to work, the interest in the topics of wellness or a good work-life balance has grown considerably.

For retailers, this customer demand is a great opportunity to conceptualise and design the presentation of merchandise focused on well-being for school, home or the office. The product offer stretches for schools from ergonomic aids that help to learn to write, to back-friendly school satchels; for the workstation from ergonomically-designed pens to writing implements; and for the home, from paint and brushes with special handles over to crafts kits as a relaxing creativity offer.

Ultimately, it is not enough to only have ergonomic products in the store. Without an appealing presentation of goods and well-informed sales staff, this would not be expedient. Create a triad from these components and show your customers that you care about their health. By showcasing merchandise as an oasis of wellness, a feeling of well-being will pervade the entire shop. This is, after all, the best way to make sure shoppers are glad to return. 

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Customers are greeted by wellness and ergonomics wherever they look. The word wellness evokes nothing but positivity – after all, it is quite literally a well from which all things good spring. Ergonomics, however, sounds a little more cumbersome although in essence its two main focuses are also all about well-being: on the one hand it refers to a product's design that spotlights the convenience of handling a product, while on the other it is about shaping work ergonomically. That means nothing other than a working place freed from any health hazards, where it is a pleasure to work. This can be difficult to create in the current situation of Homeoffice and Homeschooling. Many families do not have free space in their flat for ergonomic furniture like chairs and desktops. Nevertheless, society is aware of the consequences of inadequate working conditions, like back pain, headache or negative effects on one’s posture.  
In the meantime, ergonomics has grown to become an interdisciplinary science which interlinks man and technology, with many points that touch on engineering and the humanities as well as design.