How to Expand Your eCommerce Clientele and Include Those with Disabilities
A constant goal for ecommerce stores is to increase relevant traffic to the site. The more people you can get in front of, the more chances you have to convince someone of your value and make a sale. Anything you can do to improve your reach is crucial to those with an eCommerce store, and yet, there is still a low-hanging fruit out there that is widely ignored by most but could produce significant results. One way eCommerce businesses are seeing boosts in traffic and conversions? Making their ecommerce store website accessible.
How Web Accessibility Helps Your eCommerce Store
Web accessibility is the general term used for the edits you can make to your website to improve its usability, or access, to accommodate customers with a wide range of disabilities. Three main reasons drive eCommerce businesses to make the change to their site:
- Reach a vast number of users. Those with disabilities represent a huge chunk of the United States population. Approximately 25% of Americans have some form of disability, and that number isn’t expected to go down. By transforming your eCommerce store’s elements into accessible, you can grow your potential buyers by 25%!
- Improve UI for all users. Many of the improvements you make when making the change to an accessible site can benefit all users, which will improve your sales. Most of the edits made when implementing an accessibility strategy fall into the User Interface (UI) category of web development. Sure, plenty of the modifications will be specific for individual impairments, but they make sense for everyone. An example of this is that an accessible site allows users to pause flashing ads, which can cause seizures for people with epilepsy and are often just plain distracting and possibly even annoying to other users. Users will spend more time browsing around and perhaps making purchases by having a simpler site to navigate and not having annoying distractions.
- Avoid a lawsuit. In recent years, web accessibility has gotten much attention, mainly because of new regulations from The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), making it easier than ever for a non-compliant site to be sued for discrimination. This threat, of course, is something that any business owner would want to avoid at all costs.
What Web Accessibility Entails (And How to Implement)
Many accessibility features can be implemented for a wide range of disabilities – screen reader compatibility for the blind or visually impaired, keyboard navigation for motor impairments that prevent using a mouse or trackpad, closed captioning for the deaf, and UI improvements cognitive issues, and many more. While you can knock out some of the significant improvements on your own, the biggest problem is keeping up with the changes. Every time you edit your website, you will have to ensure your content is accessible. As a company grows and an eCommerce site, manual work like this is rarely sustainable.
Now, at this point, you might feel a headache coming on as you think about all the time and money it’s going to take to get this up and running. Don’t fret; there are simple solutions.
The most common way people tackle this issue today is to work with a third-party web accessibility platform. For example, an automated web accessibility platform accessible handles all the leg work utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Even more importantly, they scan their clients’ websites every 24 hours to find new elements to remediate, so there are no gaps in your accessibility.
A service like this is not free, but compared to the amount you would need to pay a team of software developers, the cost pales in comparison. In addition to adapting to changes, that cost would mean you would need dedicated developers to be constantly working. If something were to slip through the cracks, you could get sued, making it an absolute no-brainer to use an automated solution.
In short, using a platform that uses applications to change front-end user interface aspects and AI-powered backend changes that can adjust your site depending on the specific requirements of the particular allows you to see that “overnight” growth we were talking about.
The True Benefit of Web Accessibility
Taking on a strategy that works to improve inclusivity ties is why you started your business in the first place. You want to maximize the value you bring to the world, so you really can’t ignore users that would love to interact with your business and benefit from that value.
Making sure everyone can use your site as intended is the right thing to do; that’s obvious, but it’s also the right thing to do financially and for more considerable brand growth and reputation. Customers are becoming increasingly aware of social issues, and eCommerce sites are not immune. Having a site focused on helping those with different needs might be the bit of positive brand image that pushes you past just being another eCommerce company and establishes your brand and your stance on inclusivity (and again, bringing in an entirely new group of users!).
In short, as soon as you possibly can, you should seek out a platform that will make the necessary changes to your site so that it’s accessible. It would help if you did not take this internally because it will be a significant expense and time commitment. The benefits you will receive are increased traffic (possibly by up to 25%!), a more user-friendly website, safety from lawsuits stemming from growing regulations, an improved brand image, and, most importantly, more sales from customers who never would have interacted with your site before. It just makes sense to pursue web accessibility.