ADA-related demand letters are negatively impacting countless businesses across the globe, and eCommerce sites are no exception.
If you run an online store, digital accessibility should be a top priority for more reasons than you might’ve previously considered.
The online user experience has been a primary focus since the pandemic hit, and more people have started shopping online.
However, some users have been relying on the web to perform daily tasks for years, including shopping, yet very few sites cater to their requirements – this is the disabled community.
6 Reasons Why eCommerce Accessibility is Essential Today
The Harsh Reality for Disabled Shoppers
To give you an idea of how much things need to change, let’s look at the results of a study conducted by accessiBe. After analyzing 10 million web pages, it was found that most eCommerce sites are not compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Not only were these sites incompatible with assistive technology such as screen readers or navigable with keyboards, but most menus were not meeting basic accessibility requirements.
Life is already challenging for those with visual, hearing, and mobility impairments. The internet is one tool meant to help, but only if organizations and brands are willing to play along.
From studying to ordering medicine, having full access to a website and its functionality can greatly improve the lives of those with disabilities.
It doesn’t end there, though – prioritizing accessibility can also benefit your eCommerce business.
6 Reasons Why eCommerce Accessibility Matters More Than Ever
It Promotes Equality
Let’s start with the most important reason why more eCommerce site owners should prioritize accessibility – you’re providing shoppers with a more inclusive experience. You’re also doing your part to show the world why equality matters.
Everyone wants a pleasant shopping experience and to feel valued as a customer, regardless of ability. However, something as simple as alt text on an image can completely change the shopping experience for a disabled user, ensuring they know exactly what they’re purchasing.
It Can Boost Your Bottom Line
You will automatically generate more sales when more users can shop on your site (and you’re selling the right kinds of products). In America alone, it is said that the annual spending power of disabled consumers amounts to well over $490 billion. So consider how much money you lose monthly by not having an accessible online store.
However, remember that you won’t be able to increase sales if you only do the bare minimum to make your site accessible. Online shopping is one of the most engaging experiences, so you must tick all the right boxes. Every detail matters, from the checkout process to completing forms and understanding what a product looks like.
It Protects You From Lawsuits
The eCommerce space is one of the most competitive. A costly demand letter or a full-blown lawsuit could bring your entrepreneurial days to an abrupt end, so it’s best to avoid them from the start. ADA lawsuits don’t consider the size of the business either. So it doesn’t matter whether you’re Domino’s Pizza or selling handmade hats on Shopify – you can still be the target of a lawsuit.
You can often correct accessibility issues before a demand letter becomes a lawsuit. However, you could still be losing out on a sizable amount of money in the process. Not to mention the effects on your brand’s reputation – speaking of which…
It Enhances Your Brand’s Reputation
A striking logo and great products will only get you so far. It’s the brands that stand for something that is the most memorable. Ultimately, consumers want to give their business to authentic brands that care.
The fact that so few eCommerce stores cater to disabled users gives you a great window of opportunity. Promoting a more inclusive experience and your other brand values is a surefire way to stand out from your competitors.
It Boosts Your SEO Efforts
If you run an online store, you already know a thing or two about SEO. And if there’s one thing that search engines value, it’s a good user experience. When users spend more time on your site because it’s easy to use and meets their needs, it indicates that you’re doing something right. But, of course, the knock-on effect is that Google sends more targeted traffic your way regularly.
There are several commonalities between SEO and accessibility techniques too. Examples include adding alternative text to your images, cleaning up your HTML code, and creating clear anchor text.
It Keeps You Ahead of the Curve
The final reason eCommerce accessibility has become essential is that it gives you a good reason to innovate. Businesses that stay stagnant hardly ever survive, and building a site compatible with assistive technology is a great step in the right direction. Innovation is directly linked to the customer experience and helping humanity in general, so following accessibility standards will place you on the right path.
6 Reasons Why eCommerce Accessibility is Essential Today
In Closing – eCommerce Accessibility Matters More Than Ever
Accessibility is no longer a nice-to-have feature, not when you rely on customers who aren’t willing to or can’t get to a physical store. This is your chance to promote inclusivity, grow your brand reputation correctly, and avoid lawsuits that could damage your business for good.
And the best part is that you don’t need to be a developer to find out what needs to be changed on your site or implement the necessary changes. There are many excellent web accessibility tools available online and various solutions providers that will walk you through the entire process.
It’s just a case of deciding to get started – the sooner, the better!
Dan is a thought leader in digital accessibility and the use of technology to solve web accessibility for millions of people. As a Bachelor of Business Administration and a project manager for several high-profile ventures, he is the go-to person with tech, business, or both queries.