Global e-retail sales are scaling to hit $4.8 trillion by 2021.¹ If you’re not considering how web accessibility is affecting your ecommerce profit margins, you’re giving up a piece of the pie to retailers who are making it their priority. Whether you have an online site to augment your brick-and-mortar store or you rely entirely on ecommerce sales, see how universal web accessibility can put more eyes on your products and more money in your pockets.
What Is Web Accessibility?
Web accessibility in the retail industry translates to eliminating barriers to online shopping for people with disabilities. These challenges may include anything from complicated order forms to unreadable product descriptions. To be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you need to follow the latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
For a website to be truly accessible, it needs to provide disabled users with the full experience as an able-bodied user. Around 19% of all Americans have disabilities that may prevent them from accessing your website, giving you millions of reasons to take another look at your site logistics.
Web accessibility can actually bring you more customers from other sectors of the economy, which should be reason enough for you to take action. But just in case you need more convincing, we’ll give you a few more ways to boost your numbers:
1. Your Store Will Hit New Heights in SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the key to getting your page name above that of your competitors. By following the technical requirements for accessibility, your website will be favored by engines like Google. SEO was built on the idea of giving people real value when they’re searching. If Google’s algorithms comb your site and find that your site is disorganized, the product descriptions are lacking, or the information is mislabeled, then you’re less likely to appear in searches.
2. More Diversity in Your Audience
We’ve already covered how web accessibility can open your business up to clientele with new or temporary disabilities (e.g., a woman recovering from eye surgery, etc.). However, web accessibility has benefits that can help all people. When you caption your videos for the hearing impaired, it doesn’t mean that only the hearing impaired will take advantage of the service. For example, a shopper who speaks English as a second language may appreciate clear captioning with simple, jargon-free wording to help translate the message.²
3. Speed Up Your Transactions
You likely already know what it means to try to buy something when you’re in a time-crunch. Imagine this scenario: You click on the buy button, but you realize you forgot to fill out a tiny section of the form. You click on it again, and there’s a problem with the CVV code of your credit card. Eventually, you just forget about the whole thing. If your site is designed with web accessibility in mind, you can cater to people who are in a rush or easily distracted by the latest pop-up article that just appeared on their news feed.
Instead of having to watch a full promotional video that starts with a 30-second music interlude, you can put up a transcript of the video for people to peruse. Instead of wondering where to click to find your return policy, the navigation menu makes it perfectly clear where to find it. You get more customers making more purchases, and they get an experience that they’ll actually want to repeat somewhere down the line. It’s the definition of a win-win.
The Value of Authenticity
It’s all too easy to make claims about your website being accessible and about how your company values the rights of disabilities. But despite these words, the reality of web accessibility is often far less straightforward. Major retailers clearly do make an effort for their customers, but it’s also pretty easy to see where the experience begins to break down. If you’re not testing your website and its features against a variety of potential disabilities, then you’re likely not in compliance with accessibility requirements.
This can also be key to avoiding litigation, an ever-rising threat for retailers. In 2018, the number of lawsuits filed under Title III of the ADA was 2,258, or 177% more than the number of lawsuits in 2017. One such lawsuit was filed against Blick Art, an online retailer for art supplies that alleged their website was nearly impossible for blind people to read. A similar lawsuit was brought against Target, and both lawsuits ended with the court ordering the companies to improve their website’s accessibility. These trends show just how much weight is being given to each claim, and why retailers should try to get ahead of the problem now.³
Get a Second Opinion
Most retailers likely believe that their sites are easy to navigate, even if they’re not taking the time to get a second opinion. If you put a tool on your website that asks customers for feedback, you’re more likely to get a response back that can actually help you improve accessibility. Your customers are the ones who are quality testing your site and can give you explanations about what isn’t working and why. You can also send out emails and give people a more formal chance to express their thoughts.
Don’t Take Chances
If you’re looking for a better way to implement web accessibility, eSSENTIAL Accessibility is here to take the lead. We know how to help your organization follow WCAG 2.1 to the letter, so you never have to question if you’re in compliance. And when the laws, change, we’re there to update your site before it becomes a problem. From remediation services to evaluation integration, we transform your site from clunky to smooth for every visitor, so you can get the website ROI you’re looking for while providing a great experience to all of your customers. If you want to learn more about our Accessibility-as-a-Service solution, get in touch with the eSSENTIAL Accessibility team today.
- Website ADA Compliance in 2019 Gravitate, March 4, 2019
- Transferring web accessibility through localization and internationalization standards ACADEMIA, 2019
- Number Of Federal Website Accessibility Lawsuits Nearly Triple, Exceeding 2250 In 2018 Seyfarth Shaw, January 31, 2019
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.