UK retailers could be missing out on online sales estimated at £11.75 billion a year because their web sites fail to consider the needs of people with disabilities, a new report says.
According to the Click-Away Pound Survey 2016, put together by disability and diversity consultancy firm Freeney Williams, 71 per cent of disabled online consumers will simply click away from web sites they find difficult to use due to the effect of their disability.
This represents 4.3 million online shoppers with a collective purchasing power of £11.75 billion, which is around 10 per cent of the total UK online spend.
The report surveyed people with varying degrees of hearing and visual impairment, limited manual dexterity, and neuro-diversity issues such as dyslexia and Asperger syndrome, and others.
It found that 73 per cent of survey participants with access needs experienced problems on more than a quarter of websites they visit for the first time.
In addition, most businesses are largely unaware they are losing income because only seven per cent of disabled customers who have difficulty using a site would contact them.
Eighty-five of participants with access needs limit their shopping to sites they know are accessible while 81 per cent have chosen to pay more for a product from an accessible website rather than buy the same product for less from a website that was harder to use.
Meanwhile, 58 per cent of users with access needs said they shopped online at least once a week and 82 per cent of them said they would spend more if websites were more accessible.
Analysis of UK online spend by CapGemini and the Office of National Statistics indicates that the potential online spending power of disabled UK adults who have access needs when using the internet could be worth as much as £16.55 billion a year.
The Click-Away Pound report highlighted a few reasons behind disabled users’ decision to ‘click-away’ from a web site: crowded with too much content; poor link information and navigation; the need to fill in poorly-designed forms; distracting moving images and graphics; and poor legibility due to colour contrast and text layout.
“After 20 years of legislation, most high street retailers in the UK understand they need to take disabled shoppers’ needs into account when designing ‘bricks and mortar’ shops,” Freeney Williams managing director Rick Williams said.
“Although the same law applies to their online presence, many of those businesses seem oblivious to the need to make their websites accessible.”
The report also had the backing of Penny Mordaunt, the disability, health and work minister.
“UK disabled households have a combined spending power of more than £200 billion, presenting a huge opportunity for those businesses that are not already targeting this market,” she said.
“This report sends a strong message about the benefits of accessible online services for both disabled people and businesses.
“Whether it’s adapting a shop, restaurant or website, there are simple things that businesses can do to improve the lives of disabled people whilst tapping into their valuable spending power.”