The Importance of VPAT Testing for Electronic and Information Technology Products and Services in the Retail & e Commerce Sector
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Electronic and information technology (EIT) works in the retail sector to process, manage, and securely store data utilizing various applications or systems. EIT plays a significant role in facilitating e-business-related commercial activities such as electronic fund transfers, supply chain management, e-marketing, and other forms of online transactions in the e-commerce sector.
That is why retailers and e-commerce players must maintain current and accessible EIT solutions in order to achieve accurate demand forecasting, inventory estimations, and overall business success.
Not only has the way people shop changed as a result of growing technology trends, but so has the way consumers compare the products and services available at retail and e-commerce sites and decide whether or not to buy.
As the popularity of online shopping grows, a growing number of retail and e-commerce stores are working around the clock to attract as many and diverse customers as possible. Customers are also comparing the quality and prices of products and services offered by different businesses in order to find the best deals.
Due to the fierce competition for customers, retailers and e-commerce stores are creatively transforming their stores into eye-catchers, building their reputations before promoting their brands, researching to learn the preferences of their target audiences, ensuring good reviews and ratings for their products and services, focusing on the necessary details to advance their businesses, and providing excellent customer support, among other things.
Making sure their retail and e-commerce establishments are accessible is a crucial way savvy merchants and e-commerce enterprises are reaping big profits. They recognize the enormous market that persons with disabilities represent and are working hard to meet their requirements.
In the United States, for example, 26% of the population has a disability. Every year, this amounts to approximately $490 billion in disposable income. These customers want to find products, learn about them, and buy them as conveniently as possible, as guaranteed by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
In a poll done during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, 86% of customers with disabilities said they would pay extra for the same product or service supplied by a competitor to their favorite retail or e-commerce site if it was more accessible.
An inaccessible website is a danger to business continuity in retail and e-commerce. Apart from discouraging people with disabilities, it puts businesses at risk of expensive ADA compliance litigation as well as brand damage. Accessibility solutions, on the other hand, are less expensive and allow a business to avoid compliance-related lawsuits.
Congress revised Section 508 of the United States Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to strengthen the legal system for accessibility. The updated Section 508 mandates that the federal government acquire, develop, implement, and maintain EIT that is accessible to individuals with disabilities, regardless of whether they work for the federal government.
To improve EIT product and service accessibility and support documentation of conformance with Section 508 technical and functional performance requirements, the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) collaborated with the General Services Administration (GSA) to develop a voluntary product accessibility template (VPAT).
A VPAT is a self-disclosing prototype document used for accessibility evaluation in accordance with known accessibility standards such as Section 508, the European Union’s EN 301 549 accessibility standard, and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
The VPAT template comes in four editions that you can use to run a VPAT test for the EIT products and services on which your retail or e-commerce business depends: Section 508 VPAT, WCAG 2.0/2.1 VPAT, EU (EN 301 549) VPAT, and International (INT) VPAT.
Conducting a VPAT test using the Section508 VPAT helps you outline the level of accessibility conformance your product or service has achieved based on the technical requirements of the Section 508 Standard and WCAG.
The VPAT EU edition assists you in documenting your product’s or service’s degree of conformance to the accessibility standards for public procurement in Europe, whereas the WCAG VPAT assists in assessing the accessibility of an EIT product or service, particularly websites and web-based tools, in relation to the WCAG standard.
The INT VPAT incorporates all of the WCAG VPAT, Section 508 VPAT, and EU (EN 301 549) VPAT accessibility criteria and technical specifications. The EU (EN 301 549) VPAT template is frequently used to guide VPAT audits for EIT products and services destined for international public procurement.
If you own a retail or e-commerce business, you should conduct VPAT testing on the EIT products and services you use on a regular basis for the following reasons:
Regular VPAT audits, followed by updating your products’ or services’ VPAT accessibility conformance reports (ACRs), keep your company ahead of the market because it distinguishes you from those who haven’t done the same.
VPAT testing can persuade clients with disabilities to purchase your products or services, in addition to assisting you in avoiding potential delays or barriers in closing sales. This is due to the fact that VPAT testing allow you to document the main accessibility features and landmarks of your product or service, allowing customers to clearly comprehend them even before approaching your sales staff with purchase enquiries.
Buyers are increasingly looking for dependable and trustworthy retail and e-commerce establishments from which to purchase their goods. This is especially true for public procurement institutions, which must be accountable to taxpayers and act in their constituents’ best interests.
Making your retail and e-commerce stores accessible is one approach to increase your business’s credibility and reputation among the many buyer groups looking for quality products and services. A properly completed VPAT template including reliable information gathered from an objective VPAT test is a crucial tool for demonstrating to potential clients that you value accessibility.
VPAT testing assists prospects in making informed selections about the products and services offered by your retail or e-commerce company. VPAT testing of your EIT products allows you to find and repair any accessibility problems in your products or services, increasing your chances of winning bids to supply the products and services you provide.
As a retail or e-commerce business, VPAT audits can help you analyze not only the accessibility of the services you provide, but also the accessibility of the products you sell in your store. VPAT testing allows you to identify features that have accessibility issues and fix them. This leads to ongoing improvement of your products or services, which leads to higher revenue growth and profits.
As a retail or e-commerce business, VPAT testing assists you in identifying the aspects of your operation that require specialist assistance to improve their accessibility. This means you’ll be able to concentrate on the issues you want an accessibility expert to help you with rather than having the expert go through a whole flaw discovery process before proposing remedies.
VPAT testing, therefore, saves a business the time and resources it could have spent if it did not have an idea of the accessibility challenges to procure the services of an accessibility expert to help in resolving them.
Retail and e-commerce accessibility regulations have now been tightened! We, on the other hand, have the accessibility domain expertise required to conduct objective VPAT testing for any of your products and services, as well as develop an accurate and ready-to-submit VPAT while aiding you in navigating your clients’ expectations.