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How Accessible Design Can Improve 4 Key eCommerce Metrics

Apr 15, 2022

eCommerce metrics allow you to keep track of customer experiences and make important changes to your website. If you’re not tracking metrics, you can’t plan effectively — and if your metrics aren’t ideal, you can get back on track by adopting the best practices of web accessibility.

Accessibility is the practice of making content that works for people with disabilities. For online retailers, it’s an essential consideration: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other non-discrimination laws require businesses to offer reasonable accommodations to customers with disabilities.

However, offering accommodations to your customers has dramatic benefits apart from legal compliance. Below, we’ll look at how accessible design can help your store improve four of the most important eCommerce metrics.

1. Social Media Engagement

Social media engagement measures the number of likes, comments, and shares on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social platforms. Here’s why it’s important: Nearly 75% of the world’s population aged 13 or older uses social media, and posts with high engagement attract larger audiences. 

Engagement is a powerful tool for both direct and indirect marketing. In 2021, about 33% of Facebook users made a purchase on the platform, and any eCommerce business that maintains a strong social media presence is well positioned for growth.

How Accessibility Improves Social Media Engagement

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are the consensus standard for digital accessibility. While WCAG doesn’t address social posts specifically, the guidelines encourage creators to keep content as clear and simple as possible — and to avoid locking people out of the conversation by using non-accessible media.

Clear, concise social media posts are shared more frequently. According to one analysis from BuzzSumo, the ideal Facebook post length is around 50 characters or fewer. By writing for a broad audience, your marketing team can reach more social media users.

By adding text alternatives for multimedia — required by WCAG 2.1 Success Criterion (SC) 1.1.1 — you’ll make social posts more useful for people who use screen readers and other assistive tech. Additionally, you’ll see more engagement from users of all abilities: Videos with accurate captions and transcripts have higher engagement than videos that rely on audio.

Related: Boosting Web Accessibility in Social Media

2. Bounce Rate

Your website’s bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who navigate to another website after viewing a single page. People might “bounce" for any reason — or for no reason at all. According to eCommerce design firm Hotjar, average bounce rates for eStores can vary from 20-40% depending on the industry.

How Accessibility Improves Bounce Rates

The first few seconds of the on-page experience are extremely important for determining whether or not a user will bounce. Many accessibility improvements enhance those first seconds:

  • If a site has accurate subheadings, the user can find the information they need quickly. 
  • If the website has proper color contrast ratios, the user won’t need to adjust their monitor settings to read the content. 
  • If the website has predictable navigation, the user can quickly find products that match their needs.

By definition, accessible websites are easy for everyone to use — and when you’ve got a limited timeframe to engage your audience, that makes a difference.

Related: Accessibility Improves Bounce Rates

3. Customer Retention Rate

Customer retention rate defines the percentage of existing customers who remain customers after a month, year, or another time period. Needless to say, it’s a crucial metric for eCommerce. Improving retention rates by just 5% can increase profits between 25% and 95% according to Bain & Company, along with Harvard Business School.

How Accessibility Improves Customer Retention Rate

This should go without saying, but if your eCommerce store has accessibility issues, many people won’t be able to use it — and even if those customers are able to overcome the barriers, they’ll look for other options. 

About 1 in 4 American adults live with a disability, and worldwide, 1 billion people have conditions that affect their daily lives. To reach those consumers (and keep them coming back), you’ll need to offer accessible resources. 

And since the best practices of accessibility improve the experience for all customers, many enhancements will pay dividends over time. Streamlining your checkout process will make shopping easier for folks with disabilities, along with customers who don’t have conditions that affect their browsing habits. Following WCAG color contrast requirements will make text legible for people with color vision deficiencies — as well as people who access your site with small screens.

Related: If Customer Retention Matters to Your Business, Accessibility Should Too

4. Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate

Cart abandonment is measured by dividing the number of completed check-outs by the number of carts loaded over a certain period of time. That number is multiplied by 100 to create a percentage. 

How Accessibility Reduces Shopping Cart Abandonment

In a survey of about 1,000 U.S. adults performed by Fast, 86%of respondents said that they’d abandoned their online shopping carts before checking out. 18% of those people said they’d done so because the “checkout process took too long or was too complicated.” Another 18% said that they couldn’t remember login information.

Several accessibility features can address these problems: 

    • Websites with consistent navigation reduce confusion, particularly when users are required to interact with the site.
    • Checkout processes should suggest fixes when users make errors. This helps shoppers complete required form fields.
    • eCommerce sites should use accessible authentication processes. This can assist users who can’t remember passwords — regardless of whether they have disabilities.

Related: Online Shopping and ADA Compliance: What You Need to Know

For eCommerce sites, accessible design should be a consistent priority

Improving accessibility expands your store’s audience while delivering a better experience for every user. By creating content that is perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust, you’ll help your customers find what they need — and successfully place orders without encountering barriers.

Whether you’re building a new website or making changes to an established eStore, accessibility can help you improve key metrics and grow your business. To learn more, contact the Bureau of Internet Accessibility to speak with an expert. 

Use our free Website Accessibility Checker to scan your site for ADA and WCAG compliance.

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