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Supporting Disabled Shoppers Online

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Today marks Purple Tuesday, an international initiative that celebrates diversity and creates awareness about the spending power of those with disabilities. Commonly known as ‘the purple pound’, the e-commerce spending power of this consumer group is all the more important this year, as during 2021 our society has been pushed online on a daily basis much more than ever before.

Of course, physical accessibility factors are still an important consideration, but as the largest minority group in the world, it is important to remember that the disability market covers much more than physical disabilities alone. So businesses must consider digital accessibility in their long-term strategies and ensure the inclusion of those who struggle with cognitive, learning, and neurological disorders, have visual impairments, poor literacy, or read in English as a second language, as well as those who are physically disabled.

The Disability Market Spending Power

Approximately 20% of people in the UK and 25% of people in the USA sit in the disability market. The sheer size of this market demonstrates why it is vital that website content is accessible and inclusive for everyone. In the UK alone, the #PurplePound – the spending power of disabled people and their families – is worth a staggering £274 billion and is estimated to be rising by 14% per year, yet less than 10% of organisations have a targeted plan to access the disability market.

“Ensuring that disabled people are able to access shops, restaurants and clubs isn’t just the right thing to do – it makes business sense too. By failing to cater to their disabled customers, many businesses are missing out on the spending power of disabled people and are denying them the opportunity to enjoy something which many people take for granted. There is still time to get involved in this important initiative and I encourage businesses across the country to do just that – and reap the rewards.”

Sarah Newton, Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work


The Click Away Pound

Click-Away Pound is a research survey that analyses the online shopping habits and experiences of people with disabilities. The latest survey in 2019 demonstrates in relatable terms exactly how important it is for retailers to provide digital accessibility on their websites and apps:

  • 70% of online consumers surveyed will click away from websites that they find difficult to use.

  • 83% of participants limit their shopping to sites that they know are accessible.

  • 86% of respondents choose to pay more for products from accessible websites rather than purchase the same products for less on websites that are harder to use.

  • 35% of users with access needs use a smartphone as their preferred device for online shopping.

  • Only 8% of users with access needs will contact the site owner about any accessibility barriers they experience.

At Recite Me, we believe that online shops and services should be open to everyone. But despite these overwhelming statistics, many retailers still don’t design and build their websites and apps to include everyone, turning away millions of customers and billions in revenue in the process.

E-Commerce Trends

Internet service providers like BT’s Openreach reported a surge in internet use during the pandemic. But even before the COVID-19 pandemic, retailers were already seeing a significant shift towards online shopping year on year:

  • According to a study by Invesp, the USA and the UK are the countries with the highest average e-commerce revenue per shopper, at $1,804 and £1,629 per person per annum respectively.

  • The British Retail Consortium expects that over half of all UK retail sales will be online by 2030.

  • The USA is expected to have 300 million online shoppers by 2023. That’s 91% of the entire population!

We are living in a time where more and more daily tasks and transactions are taking place on the internet, so these statistics highlight the need for imminent action in order to meet the demand for more accessible online products and services.

The Disability Market & E-Commerce Trends

The spending power of disabled people and their families is rising by 14% per year on year, yet less than 10% of businesses have a plan in place to target the disability market, and over 98% of homepages across 1 million popular websites failed to meet legal accessibility standards in 2019.

As only a small percentage of consumers contact companies directly when they run into accessibility barriers online, it is possible that most businesses aren’t aware of how inaccessible their websites are. What is clear, however, is that people with disabilities will buy more and are prepared to pay premium prices to businesses that offer them a better and more accessible online service. So businesses that are forward-thinking and progressive would do well to act now to ensure survival and continued success.

“Digital communications can influence every stage of the visitor’s decision-making process, and as the first port of call for many people planning a trip, it is important that our website reflects inclusivity and allows people of all abilities to access the information they need.”

Emma Burdett, Web & Digital Marketing Manager, Visit Belfast


How to Support Disabled Shoppers Online

We encourage companies to take the Purple Tuesday pledge and make changes to improve the online experiences of people with disabilities. Making your website welcoming and easy to use for all customers is key. Not just on Purple Tuesday, but every day, 365 days a year.

If you think you might be missing out on the Click Away Pound, the Recite Me assistive toolbar is a simple and highly effective solution that can be embedded onto your website in a matter of minutes. Our software allows consumers barrier-free access to explore products and services online. Features include:

  • A screen reader for easy navigation and focus.

  • Styling options to fully customise text style, size, and spacing, and alter colour contrast for ease of use.

  • Reading aids such as an on-screen ruler and text-only mode.

  • A translation tool with over 100 text languages and 35 text-to-speech voices.

Personalising font size, type, and colour options to make each web page easier to read.

Online Accessibility Guide for Retail Organisations
picture of Recite Me guide

Find out how big the disabled shopping market is, some of the digital access barriers shoppers face, and our top tips for how online retailers can support disabled customers.

Retail Sector Guide Mock Up

Make Your Website Accessible Today!

Join the thousands of satisfied clients who have already successfully integrated our accessibility software onto their sites and are benefiting from the value it provides.

“Diversity and inclusion is not an initiative but core to who we are as a company and how we run our business operations. Recite Me allows us to ensure an inclusive online environment and positive user experience for all of our partners and employees.”

Alexandra Forsch, President of Awin

To find out more or to book a demo please contact the team.

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