retail accessibility


Accessibility has long been near and dear to our heart here at Enginess. But the general message is this: accessibility is vital not only from a legal perspective (in Canada and therefore the US, anyway) but from an ethical, user experience, and business perspective also. In short, accessibility is simply an honest idea. But even thereupon framework, some stand to realize even quite others. Today, we’re getting to hone in on retail — and why accessibility is mission-critical immediately.

**Caveat** – we’re getting to focus exclusively on web accessibility. There are plenty of accessibility considerations around physical retail spaces and we’re not getting to check out these here.


Accessible Sites are Better for Business

Before we get into the precise reasons why retailers got to care about accessibility immediately, let’s just outline our position. 


Accessibility is sweet for business.

  • It makes your digital presence better, more discoverable, and converts at a better rate.
  • It expands your reach to new markets, as long as 12% (at least) of the US population reports a disability of some kind. 
  • It aligns your brand with the values with inclusion, diversity, and customer centricity — all things that buyers are proven to prioritize when making buying decisions. 

We could continue, but the truth is that companies should be accessible anyways. And immediately, retail businesses especially should be hyper focused on this objective if they need to spice up their bottom line.

Here are 5 reasons why.


  1. More (or most) of Revenue is Now Made Online

Everyone is experiencing the move to online shopping differently, but the numbers don’t lie.  

E-commerce and online retail is (naturally) experiencing an enormous surge immediately thanks to COVID-19. If you would like more evidence, just check out Shopify’s rising share price as companies move their operations online.

With that in mind, it only makes sense that retail companies invest as heavily as they will into making their new primary location (website and app) nearly as good as possible for as many of us as possible.

Accessible design is among the simplest ways to do that and it provides a framework that has spillover perks and benefits, like SEO, conversion rate optimization, market expansion, and more.


  1. There is a huge market to capture

Alongside social behaviour, like not shaking hands and never leaving home without a mask, the COVID pandemic has changed how we work, shop, and buy — potentially forever.

For example, there was a 107% increase between February and April this year in online grocery shopping in Canada.

That means that tons of Canadians who had never purchased food online before are now doing that. 

Dollars to donuts (pun intended), not all of these Canadians are getting to stop once the pandemic is over.

The point is that our lives are surprised like an etch-a-sketch. Some old habits will come, others won’t. So for retail brands, there’s an enormous opportunity to capture previously habit-locked consumers.

New habits will form fast, and retail brands should put their best foot forward to capture them. which means making their storefront as easy, accessible, and open as possible.


  1. Increased Usage Will Decrease Legal Pressure for Compliance

We’ve only too happy to assist companies reach ADA / AODA compliance but we always hope that companies and retail brands will strive to satisfy the spirit of the regulations instead of just what’s required in ink.

That said, we will expect to ascertain an uptick in ADA compliance lawsuits as websites and apps become even more core to how retail brands attend the market.

So for retail brands, who can face massive fines at a time once they can ill-afford them, accessibility should just be a part of a typical risk management discussion.


  1. Increased Usage Pushed Accessibility into the Forefront of Consumers’ Minds

Consumers are increasingly ethical buyers, especially Gen Z. There are more eyes (and more wallet share) on how companies treat their customers. And in our current COVID reality, that ethical focus has shifted alongside our shopping patterns to digital properties.

Retail brands will increasingly be judged on how well their sites reflect the range of their consumers and the way well they cater to equally diverse abilities.

Those who do that well can potentially capture market share against incumbents more readily than normal since this moment of change is disrupting how people stock in a serious way, and weakening the facility of habitual purchases.


  1. Customer Experience Correlates with Increased Revenue

It’s no secret that customers will go searching for the experience they need , and therefore the companies who can provide it stand to form tons more revenue. 

Accessibility enhancements to websites and ecommerce stores naturally improves your user and customer experience (CX / UX) by designing for the foremost restricted use case. As an example , if your website is navigable with a screen reader, it’ll be even easier to push around for fully-sighted individuals.

What’s more, this correlation isn’t only manifesting because of the nebulous concept of customer experience. Google and other search engines use UX metrics like time-on-site, how easy an internet site is to navigate, and even how accessible it’s to rank sites for organic search results. 

In other words, if you would like to get the highest result for your product, making your retail site accessible could be the simplest thanks to get there.


Wrap Up 

Accessibility should be a priority for retail providers, to enhance their inclusion of differently-abled consumers. That said, the stakes are even higher immediately — and with those stakes comes massive potential for upside.

By creating an accessible retail experience, brands can improve their top-line revenue within the short term with both increased web traffic and conversion rates, improve their mid-term equity by fuelling their brand value, and improve their future business outlook by capturing and forging new habits in consumers.

In a rare moment of excellent fortune, accessibility for retail brands may be a win / win / win immediately.