You’ve likely heard several terms bandied around in business articles, white papers and social media posts: universal design, customer empowerment, informed consumerism, etc. They all orbit a single, umbrella term: accessibility.
Simply put, accessibility in business refers to the removal of barriers to entry for anyone. Those barriers might include lack of information, lack of agency, lack of price transparency, or – as accessibility is more conventionally understood – lack of usability.
Let’s explore why accessibility is important in business – how it can help empower consumers, drive sales and build trust.
Accessibility Equals Empowerment
As a case study for accessibility and empowerment, let’s look at a business making waves in the real estate industry. Nobul, an online marketplace, is aiming to improve accessibility in real estate through buyer/seller empowerment. The company connects home buyers and sellers with real estate agents that are right for them, using a “match score” algorithm. A buyer can then access simple lines of communication with their agent and attend virtual showings through the online marketplace.
Regan McGee, founder and CEO of Nobul, describes his company as offering “choice, accountability and transparency to an industry that has – for decades – been widely regarded by homebuyers as opaque and challenging.” By improving the layperson’s access to information and choice, businesses and industries can empower customers.
Accessibility and Growth Potential
Let’s take the above section a step further. Why is empowerment important for business?
Empowerment is the all-important link between accessibility and growth potential. When consumers feel like they have control and agency – when they feel empowered – they are more likely to engage in a market, whether it’s the real estate market, financial market or retail. It is in a business’s best interest, therefore, to empower as many potential customers as possible if it wants to grow.
E-commerce giant Shopify recently declared the “Age of Empowered Customers,” arguing that “the power paradigm has shifted from the retailer to the customer.” Whereas two decades ago, businesses alone “owned and controlled access to product information,” As more customers enjoy greater access and greater control over their purchases, the uptick for retail businesses is apparent: better growth potential.
Transparency and Trust
Finally, accessibility can help build consumer trust. When businesses allow access to typically-withheld information (their pricing structure, sustainability practices, how they use customer data, etc.), they develop a closer relationship with consumers. This is commonly known as transparency, and it’s a growing concern among consumers across markets.
Speaking to The Guardian, Tesco technical director Lisa Hoyle says of transparency in business: “Done well, it can create the space for collaboration, innovation and efficiency… it can help customers make the right choices.” Businesses and industries that embrace transparency are better positioned to engage consumers, identify areas of inefficiency (via consumer feedback) and improve their products/services.
“Accessibility in business” isn’t just another buzzy term. It should be a fundamental guiding principle for companies and industries that hope to empower customers, drive growth and gain trust. In short, accessibility benefits all parties.