It can feel natural to think of a company's physical presence, like a brick-and-mortar store, and digital presence as two entirely distinct entities. Sure, they should both be accessible and companies are motivated to make both as attractive and enticing to customers as they can, but historically most companies have thought of these spaces as separate in many ways. The data shows, however, that customers may not consider these spaces to have much of a barrier between one another, but rather as extensions of the other.
To the customer, the brand is the brand, so they often expect seamless transitions between the physical and the digital and the same level of service across all channels — and this includes accessibility.
Three omnichannel trend statistics from the Think With Google 2019 Research Review (PDF) really drive this point home and highlight that the time is now for retailers who operate in the physical and digital worlds to make their websites and apps accessible.
"83% of U.S. shoppers who visited a store in the last week say they used online search before going into a store."
That the vast majority of people are going online before going to a physical store is something too big to ignore. Whether they are searching for location information, reviews, inventory data, prices and sales, or anything else, most people are finding value in, most likely, confirming beforehand that their trip to the store will be successful in whatever way they define that.
What happens, though, if a customer can't find this information on a website due to unnecessary accessibility barriers? What if a customer can't compare prices or find out about deals or identify whether an item is in stock due to incompatibility with their assistive technology, for example? They may file a complaint or lawsuit if they feel they've been discriminated against on the basis of disability, or they may simply opt to do business with a more accessible competitor.
Related: What if your customers could resolve accessibility issues in real-time?
"About 45% of global shoppers buy online and then pick up in-store, which offers them a more flexible way to purchase and receive their items."
Functionally, the ability to buy online and pick up in a store requires websites and apps to work, which of course requires them to be accessible. But then there is the personal or emotional aspect, however, that also requires something: trust. There is a requirement of trust on the part of the consumer and trustworthiness on the part of the retailer that the specific item the customer intends to buy at the price they intend to buy it matches up with what they receive when they arrive at the store to pick it up.
Inaccessible forms, sloppy image alt text, or a sense of compromise on the reliability or security of a web platform will cause a percentage of users, either by choice or necessity, to do their shopping elsewhere.
Related: Brands Are Losing Billions by Not Being Digitally Accessible
"More than 55% of shoppers say they used online video while actually shopping in a store."
Perhaps nothing highlights the overlap of the digital and physical worlds more than customers using online video while actually shopping in a store. Unpacked in this one stat are at least a couple critical takeaways:
- Customers are not setting up desktop computers in spare outlets in the marketplace; they're using their smartphones and tablets. Despite the overwhelming smartphone usage statistics, many organizations still aren't prioritizing mobile accessibility. Read: Don't Overlook iOS and Android Testing for Accessibility.
- Creating accessible videos can drastically broaden a company's reach and effectiveness, so much so that people are still finding value in them while shopping in an actual store. Read: Checklist for Creating Accessible Videos.
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