The primary goal of any eCommerce website is to attract as many visitors as possible and keep them coming back for more. As a result, most online stores tend to include various functionalities and features.

What the majority of eCommerce businesses forget, however, is that their potential customers also include a large number of disabled people.

Note: This guest article discusses web accessibility in relation to the United States Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Legislation surrounding web accessibility is based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 global standard.

Find out more about ADA guidelines for web accessibility with this guide from Essential Accessibility.

Web accessibility often takes a backseat, or in most cases, is totally forgotten while optimising a digital store. However, in an increasingly digitised world, web accessibility is critical for the success of your business. It will not only attract more customers and avoid potential non-compliance lawsuits, but also improve the performance of your eCommerce site in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

Read on to know about the lesser-known benefits of accessibility that go well beyond just ADA compliance.

Enhanced overall user experience

One of the main benefits of an accessible eCommerce website is a better overall user experience. While building an online store focused on user experience is your ultimate goal, incorporating accessibility takes it to the next level.

To make your site user-friendly for disabled people, the following accessibility features must be considered:

  • keyboard-based navigation
  • voice search capabilities
  • content readability
  • video transcripts
  • accurate alt tag descriptions

All these factors also help streamline your site flow and the customer journey, which helps everyone, not just disabled users.

For example, captions allow users to watch videos without turning on the volume, which benefits all users. According to a recent report, only 12% of people watch Instapage videos with the sound on. The report also states that the average reach of a captioned video is 16% higher than one without and call-to-action clicks drop by 26% when captions are removed.

Content layout that’s designed for screen readers and large font sizes make it easier for everyone to read your content. As a result, your website’s bounce rate is likely to go down after making these changes.

Better search engine discovery

Adding video transcripts is one of the essential components of web accessibility, along with captions and audio descriptions. Video transcripts and captions allow people who are deaf or have a hearing impairment to enjoy your videos.

Search engines are much like deaf and blind users. They cannot listen or watch videos. However, they do index text. As a result, video transcripts allow search engines to discover and index your multimedia content easily.

Developers have also started adding semantics to website code in new HTML versions. Semantics help search engines understand what each component of your website does. Web accessibility helps you to take these semantics a step further. Accessibility tools can leverage existing microdata and ARIA tags to communicate the structure and purpose of the content on your website.

Increased inbound traffic means more leads

There are more than 14 million disabled people in the UK alone, with 19% of working age adults and 45% of pension age adults disabled.

Making your website accessible helps you cater to this large segment of potential buyers, increasing your inbound traffic significantly. Accessibility also extends support to a wide range of devices, allowing more people to visit your eCommerce store.

The more traffic you have, the more leads your online store can generate, which will translate into more sales. Web accessibility is good for business. Period.

Positive brand image leads to more publicity

In an increasingly digital world, brands, whether local or global, must be more conscious of their public image. People are more willing to associate themselves with brands that are actively engaged in social and environmental issues. According to Accenture’s Purpose-Led brand survey, when a brand takes a wrong stance on a social issue, 47% of its customers are likely to walk away, with 17% never coming back.

Making your eCommerce site accessible builds a positive brand image. Your store will not only attract disabled users, but also garner support from disability advocates and socially conscious users.

The more positive interactions these users have with your site, the more likely they are to recommend your business to their peers. Is there a better way to build brand loyalty?

Avoid accessibility lawsuits

The last and perhaps the most direct benefit of being accessible is avoiding discrimination and accessibility lawsuits.

In the US, the number of federally-filed website accessibility cases skyrocketed to 2,285 in 2018. up from 815 in 2017. In the first half of 2019, these cases have increased by 51.7% compared to the six months in 2018. The total filings for 2019 were estimated to reach over 3,200.

Many brands have been struck with a lawsuits, ranging from eCommerce giant Amazon to global tech brands like Apple. If you want to avoid claims of discrimination and legal action, you need to make your eCommerce store more and more accessible.

One simple way to achieve this is by assessing your website through an accessibility audit, or by using a web accessibility tool. It can save considerable money, time, resources, and keep your brand image intact.

The demand for web accessibility is on the rise. As a socially responsible brand, your eCommerce store needs to be accessible.

It’s time to be the change you see in the world.