The benefits of digital accessibility
At present, many entrepreneurs are missing out on a large group of potential customers. In its blue paper, the Opportunities of e-Accessibility expert group of research platform ShoppingTomorrow demonstrates the added value of a web store which is also accessible to people with disabilities. In addition, the experts have developed a self-scan that allows web retailers to check how accessible their web shop is.
For consumers with a disability, online shopping can currently be a major challenge and sometimes even be impossible. Investing in digital accessibility, or e-Accessibility, offers the online retail industry enormous opportunities. It provides a broadening of the customer group, but also has a positive effect on the findability, quality and conversion of a website.
In total, around 10 to 15% of consumers (shoppers) have an impairment. If you do not properly tailor your website for this, you will be excluding a large group of potential customers from your services. A missed opportunity, certainly because people with an impairment are generally very loyal customers. A positive experience on a website that is easily accessible, naturally increases the ease and confidence of returning and buying again.
By optimizing the user-friendliness of a website for people with a disability, the overall quality and reach are increased. There is a lot of overlap between accessibility and search engine optimization (SEO). Google is actually a blind user. By developing a website that is accessible, the search engine can find, understand and index it much better. One of the accessibility requirements is that images are provided with descriptive text. This is not only useful for people who use your website using screen reader software, but Google can then read and find the images more easily. The better Google understands what information is on a website, the higher it appears in relevant search results.
Social and legal factors
Since January 2017, a Dutch Equal Treatment Act based on disability or chronic illness has stipulated that it is prohibited to make a distinction when offering or providing access to goods and services. Businesses are not allowed to treat visitors with or without impairments differently. They are even obliged to make simple adjustments that ensure the "general accessibility of their products and services". This obligation also applies if this is not explicitly requested by a customer.
In addition, an agreement was recently reached in Brussels on a European Directive (the Accessibility Act). This deed obliges banks, passenger services and e-commerce parties to make their websites accessible. This must be met after a transition period of six years. It is therefore advisable to include accessibility in policy plans now and to gradually implement the requirements.
A tool can be used to contribute to increasing awareness, ensuring knowledge transfer, support and activation of the business community. Research by the expert group shows that a self-scan based on domain name in combination with extensive results is the most effective tool for this.
The expert group, made possible by Dutch business associations Stichting e-Accessibility, Thuiswinkel.org, VNO-NCW and MKB Nederland, also present their findings in, which you can download from the ShoppingTomorrow website.