Retailers: Win Hearts and Minds (and Wallets) With Web Accessibility


By moving their businesses online, retailers are enjoying increased sales and the chance to market their goods on a global platform, not to mention the fact that they don’t have the added complications of the logistics or overheads of opening stores in strategic locations around the world. puts eCommerce values in the US alone in 2015 at in excess of US$700bn. Clearly, having an online shopping facility is a no brainer.

For consumers too, the comfort and convenience of shopping from your own home is increasingly appealing, even among those who may have been initially skeptical about the safety of the transaction. Every day, internet shopping is getting swifter and easier. It has become the norm precisely because the intricacies of these transactions and the user experience have all been carefully considered and refined.

But what if retailers had overlooked a vital part of the usability checklist? According to the UK’s Click-Away Pound Survey 2016, that’s exactly what’s happening. Retailers are missing out on £11.75bn a year because their websites fail to consider the accessibility issues of those living with a disability.

For the US, the figure is notably greater. The 2015/2016 Census found that 53 million adults are living with a disability. That’s one person in every five, making up a significant consumer group worth US$200bn of spending and innovation. If the visually, hearing, mobility or cognitively impaired can’t use your site properly then as a retailer, not only are you losing potential revenue but you are also inadvertently discriminating against those living with a disability.

This is both morally upsetting and potentially litigious, with responsible retailers being urged to look again at the usability of their sites. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has attempted to help with its Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. While the report covers every eventuality, and to make every suggested change can feel overwhelming, it does provide a good guide on where to start.

It is worth the effort as the Click-Away Pound Survey 2016 shows. Sadly, 73% of survey participants with access needs experienced problems on more than a quarter of websites they visited and 71% simply clicked away from sites they found difficult to use. Even the cost of the item wasn’t an issue – 81% paid more for a product from an accessible website even if the same product cost less elsewhere but was a site that proved difficult to use. In fact, 82% said they would spend more if websites were more accessible.

The message to retailers is loud and clear, making your website accessible to all should be as carefully considered as your brand identity. Improving the online shopping experience for all of your customers will give you the edge over competitors and increase your revenue. More importantly, you will be providing an invaluable service to those whose day-to-day activities can be difficult enough without the online world adding to them, and that’s the real no brainer.

If you would like to discuss, review and improve your site’s accessibility then please do get in touch with Amnet’s  team of accessibility specialists who, as active participants in the global movement towards accessible content, are working with Google Impact Challenge award winners Benetech and the DAISY Consortium to create industry standards, tools, and scalable automation for accessible content.