Online shopping was novel and amazing in its infancy. Over time, it became more normal and introduced unparalleled convenience. Last year, however, e-commerce became essential, growing in a way nobody could have predicted or prepared for — not nice-to-have, not nice-if-you-can-use-it, but truly essential. Even as the masses eventually become more comfortable with indoor shopping, many people will never abandon their newfound reliance on e-commerce. On this side of the pandemic, the game and its rules are different now. Instead of racing to the lowest price, the new kings of digital retail be crowned by how well they meet the needs of everyone through accessible e-commerce experiences.
How much has e-commerce actually grown?
In 2020, e-commerce shoppers in the United State spent $861.12 billion, a 44% year-over-year increase and the largest increase in at least two decades, according to Digital Commerce 360.
It's still growing. Last month, the Census Bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce announced e-commerce estimates (PDF) for the first quarter of 2021: $215 billion spent, a 7.7% increase from the fourth quarter of 2020.
E-commerce growth hasn't only been remarkable by measuring dollars spent, but also by assessing the percentage of total retail spending it commands. As of last quarter, it's just under 20% of total retail spend. Last year, it was estimated at 15.9%. In 2012, it was 7.6%.
Consumers are spending more money this year in total and a significantly higher percentage of it online.
How many e-commerce sites are there? At the moment, estimates are between 12 and 24 million online shops globally, according to Digital in the Round.
More than 3.4 billion people around the world shop online. In the United States, 86% of millennials do, according to 99firms.
What are the benefits of accessible e-commerce?
As of a couple years ago, we knew that brands were losing billions by not being digitally accessible.
In the new era of e-commerce, we can't measure the opportunity and sales loss just yet — it's too new and growing too rapidly to fully understand just yet.
But here is what we do know:
- 25% of U.S. adults have a disability. Despite common myths, people with disabilities do use the internet in large numbers and spend quite a bit of money online.
- With ever-growing online shopping options, people have more freedom and ability to choose the e-commerce platforms that best serve them.
- Most courts maintain that e-commerce websites that serve the public are places of public accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and therefore have to be accessible to shoppers with disabilities.
- Accessibility increases the joy of a web experience, and people have enough options now to ditch unusable websites and apps for accessible, intuitive, and functional ones.
Ready to make your e-commerce site accessible?
All digital content should conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). E-commerce sites in particular should pay special to the checkout process, form fields, color schemes, alt text, and the mobile shopping experience.
Read more about online shopping and ADA compliance, or request a free 30-minute retail site accessibility consultation.