These days, digital stores offer a variety of functions and features in order to attract and convert visitors into paying customers. However, most businesses tend to forget that a large proportion of their potential customer base includes people that have disabilities, which is why it is imperative to put web accessibility provisions in place to support their needs.
The World Health Organization estimates that 15% of the world’s population lives with some sort of disability. Yet, a whopping 90% of websites remain inaccessible to people who rely on assistive technology. Clearly, more needs to be done to bridge this gap and make the internet more accessible for individuals with disabilities.
Fortunately, more attention is now being paid to the importance of web accessibility and its benefits for both the user and the business. Let’s look at some of the main reasons why web accessibility should be a top priority for e-commerce stores.
BOOST SALES AND INCREASE REVENUE
As addressed in a video interview with web accessibility leader accessiBe‘s Chief Vision Officer Michael Hingson, people with disabilities have more than 600 billion dollars in disposable income. Yet, in the US, less than 2% of the 350 million active websites are accessible to people who have disabilities. As a result, companies without accessible sites are losing around $6.9 billion a year to competitors whose sites are more accessible.
When you consider these statistics, it’s clear to see that any e-commerce store that takes the time and effort to prioritize web accessibility will gain a substantial competitive edge over their rivals by immediately opening themselves up to a significant market segment that is predominantly neglected. With e-commerce becoming more competitive with each passing year, improving web accessibility may prove to be one of the most cost-efficient and practical methods for boosting sales and increasing revenue.
ENHANCE THE OVERALL USER EXPERIENCE
For e-commerce companies, the user experience is crucial because it ensures that customers can quickly navigate the website, find what they need, buy it, and move on. When people find that it is simple to buy, they are more likely to return, which helps to grow revenue. In fact, users often decide within 15 seconds whether they will stay on a site or not.
With that said, incorporating website accessibility features into your store helps to improve the overall user experience that much more. That’s because stores must incorporate capabilities like voice search, keyboard-based navigation, increased content readability, video transcripts, and precise alt tag descriptions to become more accessible.
Stores should also structure their content correctly, choose colors carefully, avoid flashing ads, and create forms that are simple to fill out. This not only helps individuals with disabilities but also makes the overall experience more enjoyable for all users. The ease of navigation can result in a lower bounce rate and a higher conversion rate.
IMPROVE SEARCH ENGINE VISIBILITY
SEO is all the rage at the moment as websites continually look for new, easy-to-jostle-for positions on the SERPs. Fortunately, increasing your web accessibility can also boost search engine visibility, which is an excellent way for your store to gain more exposure while accommodating those in need of extra assistance.
So, how does that make sense? Well, incorporating video transcripts, captions, and audio descriptions into your video content is one of the most important aspects of web accessibility. While search engines can’t hear or see videos (yet), they can index text, which means that having transcriptions and captions on your store can assist sites like Google to understand the structure and purpose of the content on your website, making it easier for them to discover and index your multimedia content.
In the United States, accessibility lawsuits and litigation surged by 181 percent from 2017 to 2018, and the trend has been continuing upwards since then. As the government clamps down on companies that fail to put measures in place to meet the needs of their customers with disabilities, the number of digital accessibility lawsuits has risen to over 3,500 cases in 2020. The vast majority of these cases are ruling in favor of the plaintiffs.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) established rules to assist Americans with disabilities in accessing physical businesses. The framework for these rules has now transitioned over to the digital world, which outlines the minimum requirements that sites must adhere to in order to serve the needs of all users.
Failure to comply with these guidelines can result in hefty fines, claims of discrimination, and legal action. Not to mention the potential negative publicity and reputation damage that these lawsuits can bring. Therefore, prioritizing web accessibility can help save time, money, and resources that can be invested in other business areas rather than battling lawsuits.
IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO
We saved the most important reason for last: Do the right thing. Don’t build/continue to operate a website that you know isn’t accessible to 15% of the world’s population. Be inclusive to all and share your store with the world!
It’s safe to say that the demand for web accessibility is on the rise as e-commerce entrepreneurs are realizing the various benefits. However, if you own an e-commerce store, rather than viewing this as an obligatory task that must be carried out to meet guidelines, you should instead see the immense amount of value that both you and your customers stand to gain from just a few minor tweaks.
Enhancing the usability of your site will not just help to bring more users to your store, but it will also improve the user experience for all of your customers, boosting conversions and increasing revenue as a result.