As our goods and services move online – a process accelerated by the COVID pandemic – it’s even more important that no-one is left behind. Follow our tips for ensuring your online shopping experience is accessible to all.
During the COVID pandemic many businesses have had to move their goods and services online at speed. In the rush to adapt the way we conduct business, the experience of users with access needs has not always been considered.
With restrictions of varying levels in place across the globe, and eCommerce on the rise, now is the perfect time for New Zealand businesses to embrace the opportunity of being accessible to 100% of consumers.
If online shopping sites are accessible to all users, everyone wins.
Most of us use websites to research or make purchases daily, without even thinking about it – until we have a bad experience and can’t get to the information we need. We might give up, which means we lose out on the goods, services or help that we are trying to reach. For the 1 in 4 people who have an access need, this is a common experience.
This also means that businesses lose out on custom. Research shows that 70% of access customers click away from websites due to inaccessibility. In fact, website inaccessibility is responsible for a loss to business of 17 billion pounds every year in the UK alone.
With 1.85 billion people worldwide with access needs, access customers represent a significant market that is not being currently captured. In fact, the access market is the largest untapped market opportunity in the world.
Research into the online shopping experience of users with access needs found 83% limit their shopping to sites they know are accessible, and 86% would spend more time on websites if the experience was accessible. It’s clear that by creating an accessible shopping experience, you are increasing both eCommerce and brand loyalty from access customers.
In the process, you’ll create a better experience and gain increased brand loyalty from all customers! To find out how consumers actively support brands that have a reputation for accessibility, read our blog.
The goal of accessibility is creating an experience that everyone can use, so it's important to remember that your customers have diverse needs.
Some may use screen readers or magnification technology, others may use a keyboard only (no mouse). There may be temporary factors such as a broken arm or incorrect glasses prescription. Users may not be able to use or access technology that will support online ordering.
We’ve put together a list of top tips for making your website or app accessible, which you can read on our blog.
We've highlighted features specific to shopping sites below:
Provide images that show the item clearly. It’s best to have multiple images that show the item from a range of angles, close and wide shots, in and out of packaging. If your product is clothing, provide a photo of your model both standing and seated (and better still, employ models with access needs or disabilities).
Provide alt text for images, and ensure that you describe your image in a straightforward way that will help your users picture it.
If you have an image that requires a long description, such as an infographic or a chart, provide a short description in your alt text, and also provide a text link to a longer description next to the image.
Ensure your product description accurately describes the product.
If you’re describing clothing, consider describing texture, pattern, fit, and even what you could wear the item with.
Some shoppers rely on custom-descriptions from sales staff, so provide options for customers to chat with someone who is familiar with the item. (Live chat boxes are not accessible to everyone, so provide phone and zoom options too).
You’ll need to gather information from your customers when they make a purchase, however not all forms are accessible. Ensure your designer follows best practice for creating accessible forms.
If the form is built using these guidelines, all users (including those with access needs) will find it easier to fill out.
Did you know that using CAPTCHA to verify your customer is a real human can be inaccessible for some website users?
There are more accessible alternatives, so ensure your designer has used best practice accessibility guidelines.
Consider the needs of all shoppers when developing your sales, delivery/collection and returns policies and processes.
Provide an option for the shopper to write "notes" about delivery and click and collect. Provide a return bag and both e-mail address and phone number to contact regarding returns.
Ensure your staff are trained to adapt practices where necessary to assist access customers.
Ensure contact information is easy to access, and provide multiple options such as e-mail and phone number.
Provide options for shoppers to make transactions over the phone as an alternative to the website.
Provide options for Zoom/Skype, as this may be a more accessible option for some customers.
If you want to create a great experience for everyone, invite feedback from your customers and listen to what they have to say.
If you’d like support to assess the accessibility of your digital platform using best practice guidelines the Be. Lab team can help. We can provide expert advice to help you improve usability and functionality of your online shopping site.
We also offer leadership and culture programmes to enhance your business strategy and build your team's confidence in creating environments for accessibility to flourish.
To get in touch with our team to discuss your needs today, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org