Founder, Digital Business Ireland
Businesses across Ireland have become increasingly reliant on digital and social media platforms to reach and retain customers. However, without digital accessibility, they are limiting business.
A market of around 600,000 Irish-based customers remains largely untapped. This is due to the lack of digital accessibility of websites, digital assets and mobile applications. It prevents more than half a million people living with a disability in Ireland from purchasing a product or availing of a service online.
Digital accessibility and eCommerce expansion
Today, most businesses and organisations will have a central digital hub — a website, mobile application, online store or social media account — which facilitates their online presence. These hubs must take digital accessibility into account.
Customers may have previously visited physical stores at defined times or sought information via phone. Now, they have access to a digital storefront. In response, consumers across the country have embraced the convenience and flexibility of online shopping.
Cost of eCommerce growth
While the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated this broader trend in consumer behaviour, few could have predicted the exponential growth in eCommerce over the last few years. While the frequency of online purchases has increased substantially, so too has the value of average spend.
Research conducted by Digital Business Ireland predicted that approximately 38% of consumers planned to increase their online spend in 2022. Consequently, digital advertising spend in the Irish market reached a high of €861 million in 2022. Businesses are investing more financial resources into driving website and social traffic than ever before.
Digital accessibility presents the greatest
opportunity for Irish businesses to unlock
access to a market of customers.
European accessibility act
Irish businesses have spent hundreds of thousands of euro — or more — enhancing their website design. However, many may not have digitally accessible platforms. Under the European Accessibility Act, the websites of many private sector organisations must be digitally accessible by June 2025. Compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 AA standard will be a legal imperative.
Design disruption enabling accessibility
Our partners at Inclusion & Accessibility Labs (a spin-out of the National Council for the Blind of Ireland) found that 73% of leading Irish companies do not have accessible websites. Their products, services and content cannot be accessed by the 600,000 people across Ireland who live with a disability.
Digital accessibility presents the greatest opportunity for Irish businesses to unlock access to a market of customers who hold substantial spending power. Moreover, building an accessible website is relatively inexpensive and takes little time with the right strategy and with the right technical experts on board. Businesses must now design their own disruption and seize the opportunity of digital accessibility — before their competitors do.