Home > The investment in an accessible web shop that resulted in 37000% ROI

The investment in an accessible web shop that resulted in 37000% ROI

The European Commission cites this case in a press release

A study by the UK’s Royal National Institute of the Blind showed that a £35 000 investment by a supermarket chain in making their website accessible brought in additional revenue of over £13 million a year.

Fifth paragraph in a press release called “European Commission seeks public input on measures to break down barriers to disabled people” by the European Commission.

This press release is available in 22 European languages. My fellow Never Code Alone Audit team member Marc Haunschild, accessibility consultant, auditor, trainer and coach, pointed me to it earlier this year. I’m eternally grateful for that. It saves me so much time, energy, and frustration in convincing people that making the web accessible benefits all, in more than one way.

Mind-blowing facts

1. This case is from more than 20 years ago

If anyone tries to tell you that online accessibility is something new and fashionable, now you know better.

2. They understood the value of user testing

This still stands today: Theory may get you a long way, automated testing is cool but also has limits. Nothing beats user testing by your target audience.

3. The number of key changes for accessibility was relatively low

They chose mainly to focus on blind and partially sighted visitors. Knowing the numbers, imagine how much more revenue they could have had when they had opened their digital doors to people with other disabilities.

Summary of measures and key changes

Measures taken:

  1. 2000, June-September: Alpha testing by 20 users of varied visual impairment in tandem with progressive development of a new interface design.
  2. 2001, January-May: Beta testing of the new interface by 70 users who are blind and partially sighted, recruited in liaison with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)

Key changes:

  1. superfluous images stripped from the site
  2. clear description of all link text
  3. elimination of main site’s column-based layout allowing for intuitive navigation
From Case Study of Accessibility Benefits:Tesco in the archive of W3C WAI.

And then Alice… eh, Anne went down the rabbit hole

A quick search showed it takes very little effort to discover much more about the Tesco case and so many others. The archive page I refer to had a reference to a page with more recent information about other projects.

I picked a juice berry from that one for you:

The global market of people with disabilities is over 1 billion people with a spending power of more than $6 trillion. Accessibility often improves the online experience for all users.

From The Business Case for Digital Accessibility by W3C WAI.

“Don’t they want my money?”

I regularly assist one of my oldest friends. He’s only 57, but his sight has been wrecked by a hereditary form of diabetes and glaucoma. Going outside to a store is only possible when someone is going with him. Yeah, you know where I’m going with this. He does his shopping online. When he hits the digital wall, he calls me to assist him remotely. And the first thing he always says is: “What’s wrong with these people, don’t they want my money?”

My sight is not that great either (I’m 51), I have issues with low contrast and font sizes under 16 pixels. Besides that, I go bonkers over sliders and pop-ups. (ADHD and a rare form of dyslexia). Those rocket me away from a site faster than you can blink.

Because of these factors, I couldn’t help my friend, either. Last week, three insurance companies missed out on a customer who wants to move his entire insurance portfolio.

I rest my case.


PS In case you need convincing from an even bigger perspective

In 2020, we globally left 13 trillion USD  lying around unspent due to lack of accessibility in general.  Online accessibility is a big chunk of that!