2021 Continues 2020’s Upward Trends in Online Shopping 

2020 was a tumultuous year for merchants. Conditions created by COVID-19 led to a dip in brick and mortar sales, and accelerated an already upward trend in online spending as consumers across all demographics turned to the Web for shopping needs during lockdown. As a result of COVID-related online commerce boosts, North American retailers saw an additional $180 billion in revenue in 2020

As the first quarter of 2021 comes to a close, eCommerce shows no signs of slowing. Online purchases in January and February of this year grew at 34% YoY, amassing a total of $121 billion in online spending so far

With so many new challenges and opportunities, smart merchants are investing in optimizing their sites. From efficiency to security to shopper personalization — positioning your site to compete for the many existing, and growing numbers of new online shoppers is key. One must-have update is accessibility.

People with Disabilities Represent a Large Consumer Market.

1 in 4 U.S. adults have some form of disability , and with an estimated spending power of $490 billion (globally, that number skyrockets to $6 trillion), people with disabilities represent a huge prospective customer base.

Given that 69% of people with disabilities state they will immediately abandon a site that presents access barriers, ensuring an accessible digital shopping experience should be a priority for any ecommerce merchant. Not only does an inaccessible site prevent countless customers from interacting with your brand and purchasing your products and services, it can also put your company at great legal risk. 

ADA eCommerce lawsuits are surging. 

Between federal and state courts, roughly 2,000 web accessibility lawsuits were filed in 2020.  With the average cost to defend an ADA lawsuit estimated at $25,000 (that’s excluding remediation costs) it’s in your best interest to achieve accessibility compliance and remove the threat.  Accessibility lawsuits are not going away, and as online merchants continue to grow in popularity with consumers, they will remain litigation targets.

Digital Accessibility Standards

Recent studies have indicated that up to 98% of popular websites have some kind of accessibility-related error. Without legal and technical expertise at the ready, it can be difficult to evaluate and properly respond to demand letters in a timely manner.

So what is the standard? Generally, organizations need to comply with the WCAG 2.1 AA digital accessibility standard. It’s a set of guidelines for accessibility published by the W3C, the web’s governing standards body. These guidelines specify how to make digital assets, including website and mobile apps, accessible to those with disabilities.

Start an Accessibility Program Before You Need One

The best time to start a digital accessibility program is before legal action is taken. By taking proactive steps, you can improve the usability of your website and lower your legal risk.

However, if you have already received a demand letter or other legal notice, connect with an expert in the space immediately. For example, eSSENTIAL Accessibility has a rapid response to demand letters.

eSSENTIAL Accessibility can help optimize your eCommerce site for accessibility

The benefits of providing a digitally accessible eCommerce experience are many: 

  • Open your business to a larger audience
  • Mitigate legal risk
  • Enhanced UX for all users
  • Follow best practices for on-page structure (which can strengthen your on-page SEO)

And, while ensuring your eCommerce site is fully accessible can be a challenge, eSSENTIAL Accessibility’s team of experts possess an in-depth understanding of the complexities involved and can work with you throughout the entire process to ensure all accessibility issues are identified and remediated. Contact us today to get started.

Learn More: Register for our upcoming eCommerce webinar with Pivotree

Learn more about the impact of digital accessibility on online commerce by attending our April 14th webinar, “Digital Accessibility & eCommerce in 2021”, presented jointly with our partners, Pivotree. Click here to register.



Digital Commerce 360
Adobe Digital Economy Index Q12021
American Institutes for Research
ClickAway Pound
eSSENTIAL Accessibility
Kris Rivenburgh