In 2019, the European Parliament and Council published and started implementing Directive 2019/882 – Accessibility requirements for products and services. The Directive 2019/882, set to take full effect in 2025, foresees a significant shift in the e-commerce landscape. This document comes in favour of people with disabilities, allowing them to benefit from the same services and products as any other citizen by promoting equality as it emphasizes the accessibility requirements for products and services and aims to ensure that e-commerce platforms are fully accessible to everyone.
While it is a process of normalization and equalization, this direction represents both a challenge and an opportunity for the e-commerce field that must adapt to its requirements.
Here are some general ways in which accessibility laws can impact e-commerce:
1. Website Accessibility: The European Accessibility Act (EAA), seeks to create a barrier-free environment in the digital space. E-commerce websites will be required to ensure that their websites are accessible to individuals with disabilities. Check now if your website is compliant.
2. Omnichannel Communication: Displaying just a phone number or email address is not allowed anymore since it would create a disadvantage for people with a hearing or speaking impediment. Providing CHAT as an alternative contact method for hearing – and speaking-impeded users will become mandatory, if the phone number and email address will continue to be displayed on a website. Instead of adding a separate software for Chat, it is recommended to use Mondo as an integrated omnichannel communication platform and become compliant with the European Accessibility Act.
3. Penalties and Compliance: Non-compliance with accessibility laws can result in penalties and legal action, loss of market share, and reputational damage. More importantly, compliance is a legal requirement and a moral and social responsibility towards creating an inclusive digital ecosystem. E-commerce businesses may need to invest in accessibility improvements, conduct regular accessibility audits, and train their teams to ensure compliance.
4. Improved User Experience: Making e-commerce websites and apps more accessible can improve the overall user experience, potentially increasing customer satisfaction and sales for a broader range of users.
Challenges Faced by E-commerce Businesses
The primary challenge lies in redesigning and adapting current digital platforms to meet the standards set by the EAA. This process involves understanding the specific needs of people with various disabilities, including visual, auditory, motor, and cognitive impairments. It requires a thoughtful approach to web design, content presentation, and navigation.
Preparing and adapting for the Directive
Audit and Assessment: Businesses should start with a comprehensive audit of their current digital assets to identify areas that require modification to meet the accessibility standards. It is recommended using: https://wave.webaim.org/
Implement a Chat: E-commerce websites that do not already provide a chat as a contact channel, need to start choosing and implementing one. It is advisable using: https://wave.mondo.chat/ because it integrates all communication channels in one self-service cloud platform and is developed by Netex, a company with over 24 years of experience in the field of customer contact. Benefit from battle-tested workflows that have evolved with the ever-changing customer service landscape. The over 20-year journey of Netex has equipped them with the agility to adapt and implement dynamic workflows that align seamlessly with industry best practices, ensuring optimal efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Employee Training: Educating and training staff about accessibility and its importance is crucial for a successful implementation.
Iterative Implementation: Adopting an iterative approach to implementing changes allows for continuous improvement and adaptation.
Wave Accessibility and Its Importance in E-commerce
One pivotal aspect of adapting to this Directive is Wave Accessibility. Wave, a suite of evaluation tools, assists in making web content more accessible to individuals with disabilities. It helps identify web accessibility issues, guiding e-commerce platforms to become compliant with the accessibility standards. For visually impaired users, tools like Wave can analyze websites, highlighting areas needing alternative texts for images, ensuring keyboard navigation, and recommending changes for screen reader compatibility. Try using: https://wave.webaim.org/
Adapting to the Needs of Blind Users: Wave and ARIA Tags
For blind users, the application of Wave tools and ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) tags is critical. ARIA tags can be added to HTML code to make elements like forms, buttons, and navigation menus more accessible. They provide screen readers with the necessary context, allowing blind users to navigate and interact with web content efficiently. To check the compliance of your online shop or website visit: https://wave.webaim.org/
Addressing the Needs of Hearing and Speech Impaired Users: The Omnichannel Approach
To address the needs of hearing and speech-impaired individuals, an omnichannel approach in customer service becomes mandatory with the onset of the European Accessibility Act. Omnichannel platforms integrate various communication channels – including text-based options like email, chat, and social media – ensuring that customers can choose their preferred mode of communication. By providing multiple contact options, e-commerce businesses can cater to the diverse needs of customers, ensuring that those with hearing or speech impairments have equal access to information and support. A recommendation that fulfills all conditions is https://wave.mondo.chat/ by Netex, a German company that doesn’t just talk about best practices; it embodies them. Mondo is made in Germany and Netex´s commitment to excellence has earned them a reputation as pioneers in implementing industry best practices. From streamlined communication to rapid issue resolution, their approach is a testament to their relentless pursuit of customer support perfection.
Challenges and Solutions for E-commerce Businesses
E-commerce businesses face the challenge of redesigning their digital platforms to comply with the standards set by the European Accessibility Act. This involves understanding the specific needs of people with different disabilities and implementing thoughtful web design and content presentation strategies.
The Critical Role of Omnichannel Platforms
Omnichannel platforms are instrumental in helping businesses meet the Directive 2019/882 requirements. These platforms, known for unifying various communication channels, also prioritize accessibility. They can be configured to offer accessible options for every individual, regardless of disability. Try the platform https://wave.mondo.chat/ by Netex. With a rich tapestry of experiences spanning over 20 years, they have fine-tuned their approach to customer support in Mondo as an omnichannel communication platform. Their seasoned team understands the intricacies of customer interactions, allowing them to implement strategies that exceed expectations and set industry benchmarks.
Advantages of Early Adopters: A Case
Some online shops have already voluntarily started to adopt and implement the EEA ahead of it becoming mandatory. Getting a head start is always an advantage. One of the early adopters is Delticom from Hannover, founded in 1999, now the European market leader for online tyres. With successful brands such as Reifendirekt.de, Oponytanio.pl, MyTyres.co.uk, or 123pneus.fr, Delticom has been synonymous with modern, dynamic e-commerce for more than 20 years. By voluntarily implementing the EEA early in 2023 and providing an omnichannel communication option to their customers through Mondo in over 400 online shops, they managed to get ahead of their competition. By harnessing the power of the meticulously crafted customer communication workflows, evolved over years of adaptation and refinement, Mondo customers don’t just follow industry trends; they set them. Mondo’s dynamic processes are designed to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of customer support, ensuring you stay ahead of the curve, like Delticom did.
Looking Ahead: Directive 2019/882 represents a positive step towards inclusion in the digital age. For e-commerce businesses, it’s an opportunity to lead the way in creating an accessible digital environment. Embracing omnichannel platforms such as Mondo can be a strategic move in this direction, ensuring compliance while enhancing overall customer experience.
Moving towards 2025, e-commerce companies have a responsibility and an opportunity to redefine the digital shopping experience. The adoption of omnichannel platforms like Mondo helps them align and comply with the principles of the European Accessibility Act as stated in the EU Directive 2019/882 is not only about legal compliance; it is about the commitment to an inclusive digital world based on equality and offering the same opportunities to all individuals, creating a place where the needs of each customer are met with dignity and respect.