What was once a luxury is now a standard. An online store needs the right combination of accessibility tools to succeed in the online shopping environment. An accessible eCommerce website requires an approach that goes beyond optimising for search engines, or digital marketing.
Web accessibility means applying web design and digital accessibility principles to help seve customer needs. But what are now the most basic needs of your clients, and how do you know if you’ve satisfied them?
According to current research, customers expect Accuracy, Accessibility, Partnership and Advice. All of those cases can be supported by technology. Let's explore how, with these principles in eCommerce website accessibility.
Web accessibility explained
I would like to explain the two first, in terms of accuracy and accessibility expectations. Accuracy and availability are required and expected qualities. It might seem callous, but those companies that still fail to meet them are almost certain to lose out.
Check out our list of eCommerce site solutions that we consider to be the new standard for the customer experience as well as the accessible store.
eCommerce Store Accuracy
It doesn’t matter if you are a socially responsible brand, how polite your staff behave, or the beauty of the product photos; at a fundamental level, customers expect accuracy. Accuracy is based, in my opinion, mainly on back-office management and your website error policy.
Website accessibility error policy
The design of the 404-error page is often overlooked. I do not know why.
Especially since this is the page that comes up when something goes wrong for the customer, it might be an old, broken, non-existent link or maybe a moved link. So, why spend time on a page that we don’t want people to visit?
Let me ask it differently. Have you ever been lost? Have you ever felt anxious and impatient because of that? That’s it. The response is easy. We then have to redirect a lost customer to our homepage or search bar and ease the accessibility considerations in a sophisticated, endearing, and effective manner.
We should also be aware of the importance of capturing each visitor to the site, especially if they land on an error page. A socially responsible eCommerce store should, after all, turn even the most frustrated visitors into potential customers.
So, what’s the website error policy? Remember to follow these best web design practices:
- Clearly state the reason for the website accessibility issues
- Your 404-error page should have a link that redirects users to the homepage or other working web page
- Category links, search engines integration, or a navigation bar are highly desired forms of web content. However, these tools work just as well to help them find what they need.
- Remember about consistent branding with the rest of your web pages.
- Engage customers, be it charming or seductive. Apply anything that can show some of your brand’s personality beyond the website design.
I checked a dozen fashion brand website page elements, in which I reviewed user interface, and various page elements. Each search took me from the pinnacle of luxury, Louis Vuitton, to young Polish lingerie brands. Unfortunately, it becomes apparent that the bigger the ‘player,’ the fewer attention companies pay to error handling and web accessibility. It’s a pity, but also an excellent opportunity to improve and build an inclusive shopping experience.
eCommerce stores: backoffice management deficiencies
Backoffice management deficiencies are related chiefly to e-shop management services. So, in a nutshell, it’s up to your employee engagement, thoroughness and creativity. On the one hand, the basis is correct, error-free descriptions and correctly resolved photographs. But, on the other hand, there are stock issues as overproduction and underproduction.
These aspects are seemingly obvious. And yet, firstly, technology will not be of great assistance. It’s a question of the talent employed by the company. But the stock issue is something we can handle.
I’m going to describe the stock availability in the accessibility expectation part of this article. However, here I would like to focus on the underproduction dilemma that causes your clients’ disappointment in time for the checkout process.
This problem is not strongly felt when a product is sold in 3-4 sizes. However, when the product sold comes in more than 30 sizes, the dilemma and the fortune-telling begins. If you conduct reliable sales analyses of your products, you have a good chance of predicting what sizes and quantities to produce based on the cut or sales trends of similar products.
But is this enough to avoid customer disappointment due to the absence of the creation of their dreams? We are not talking about fixed, underlying products; the analysis gives reasonably reliable data.
We're talking about something as ephemeral as a trend, a ‘risky’ production such as a seasonal collection. That is why more and more fashion companies (especially those working agile) are choosing to offer pre-sales of products. Customers readily accept this solution.
A couple of the most significant advantages from B2C pre-order view:
- Never again over-request
- Stay away from monotonous stock relates
- Eliminate any opportunity of squandering cash on moderate moving products
- Improve your entire online presence and its efficiency
- ... and above all, place the most focus on customer satisfaction
eCommerce website accessibility
Any business that becomes more accessible will undoubtedly secure more customers who want to come and try it. So how can technology support accessibility expectations?
Online stores' stock availability
Essentially, your ability to manage stock level is determined by synchronizing your warehouse software with your site, platform, or cloud B2B. A stock indication is given ordinarily in a document position or (in a more professional manner) over API/EDI.
Whether it’s updating your products, transferring product pictures, or stacking new provider products, there is nothing more frustrating for customers than an ‘out of stock’ notification.
I want to distinguish between two types out of stock information. The first one is when a product has finished, the website informs the customer, but the product can still be viewed and read about. The second is when the product is presented as ‘available,’ but it turns out that it is not during the order process. I will now focus on this second problem.
The primary approach for web accessibility is to verify the stock levels and frequency of changes and updates when managing many such products. Selling out-of-stock items can inflict a profoundly negative mark on your online store’s integrity.
There are various ways to transfer your inventory information to make your online store accessible to employees:
Make physical updates of stock, one by one. This is shockingly more common than you would expect. But, while popular, this is an entirely unproductive activity.
With the use of Excel, you can connect your worksheet and provide online store stock updates regularly - even several times per day.
Outsource automation software
Outsource mechanization software, which is generic in its formulation and therefore will not be adapted to the sector’s specific needs.
Composing a script
This consists of automation of ‘physically’ bringing in the records and the code made by software developers, who execute it themselves regularly.
What next steps to take
It’s up to you to determine which solution is the most convenient for your online store and web accessibility. But, keep in mind that the world wide web consortium is moving towards full business automation and cloud solutions.
Managing and integrating online store inventory and the order fulfilment process are critical components of e commerce work. Imagine controlling your inventory on a cloud platform with complete, unfettered customer access if you are the producer.
If you are an eCommerce site owner, imagine booking goods across the platform on the fly to avoid selling out of-stock items. Adding to this, you could experience full automation and execute complete trend analyses. Does that sound like a utopia for shopping online?
Not at all. When cloud solutions started to gain popularity in the mid-2010s, one Polish lingerie producer introduced such a solution to its inventory. As a result, this eCommerce website recorded a 200% increase in sales in the B2C sector on its home market online store. On the other hand, it experienced a 60% increase in sales in the B2B sector on its wider EU market online stores.
This miracle occurred in less than one year after the assistive technologies implementation. If that isn’t tempting towards your next accessibility testing, then I don’t know what is!