Checkout flows can be a nightmare for differently-abled consumers

  • 79% of consumers in the US report abandoning a purchase altogether if the checkout experience is less than perfect.
  • Many steps in the checkout flow risk frustrating users or are downright difficult to perform for those who are differently-abled. 

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Checkout flows can be a nightmare for differently-abled consumers

Checkout flows make or break the online shopping experience. 79% of consumers in the US report abandoning a purchase altogether if the checkout experience is less than perfect, according to recent data.

But consumers in the US aren't alone in this. An aversion to friction in the checkout flow is echoed across the globe. US consumers’ dislike for friction is only second to those in China, where 89% of people report a tendency to abandon if there are hiccups in the process. 

"The biggest points of friction in these flows often occur due to processes added to the shopping funnel to combat fraud and enhance security. The checkout process involves numerous form fields, making it time-consuming and adding to cognitive load. And third-party payment solutions often lack accessibility. If ecommerce stores offer clearly accessible payment solutions during the checkout process, it will be easier for users to make the necessary choices,” said UserWay’s Raghavendra Satish Peri, Director of Accessibility, who is visually impaired. 

Many of the steps deemed necessary in the checkout flow risk frustrating the user or are downright difficult to perform for users who are differently-abled. 

For example:

a) 2FA and SMS Verification: Choosing between two-factor authentication (2FA) or SMS verification can be a matter of preference or it may be dictated by the provisions made by the retailer in the checkout flow. Often the addition of 2FA or SMS verification comes as a response to data breaches or attacks. For example, three weeks ago, Valve, the game development company, added 2FA to its game distribution platform Steam after its developers’ accounts were hacked and their games updated with malware. Additional methods of verification not only apply to customers but also extend to those who are contributing to online marketplaces. 

But while contributors may have the ability to rely on their teams if they face usability challenges due to their disabilities, consumers are often charting the seas of the internet alone. Research shows that those with dyslexia might find reproducing number sequences difficult and those who have Parkinson’s may take longer to type than those without disabilities, affecting the usability and security of authenticator apps.

“Two-factor authentication presents significant challenges. It is time-sensitive, and when two devices are involved, people with disabilities find it difficult to navigate between them. Additionally, the codes often become invalid due to authentication timeouts. SMS verification, especially when involving alphanumeric values, presents similar challenges. These techniques impose a significant cognitive burden on individuals with disabilities,” said Peri. 

b) Captcha: CAPTCHA is ridden with issues when it comes to evaluating its usability for disabled users. Each of its types such as text, image, and audio are difficult to process for  differently-abled users. Image-based CAPTCHA can’t have alt-text without rendering the whole exercise useless. Text-based CAPTCHA has distorted letters that are often placed close together, creating problems for those who have visual impairments or cognitive disabilities. And hard of hearing users cannot interact with audio-based CAPTCHA, which can also introduce usability challenges for those with cognitive disabilities.

“Many experts argue that CAPTCHA is not an effective authentication method or security feature for protecting user privacy. CAPTCHA challenges can be particularly daunting for non-disabled users, depending on the type of CAPTCHA presented. For individuals with disabilities, such as low vision, blindness, motor disabilities, deaf-blindness, and cognitive impairments, CAPTCHA poses significant barriers. When a disabled user is unable to solve a CAPTCHA independently, it becomes a major obstacle, preventing them from progressing further,” he added. 

Modern authentication methods aren't really designed with differently-abled people in mind. Last year, 65% of differently-abled consumers abandoned a purchase due to poor accessibility. 

“The issue is that brands are so focused on “designing websites that look beautiful from a brand perspective“ that the experience for someone who uses accessibility software is just not being considered. “That might be screen readers or text magnifiers, or even something as simple as image tagging and captioning; different things that people might utilize to improve their experience haven’t been considered at all,” said Dom Hyans, head of strategy at specialist disability and inclusion marketing agency, Purple Goat. 

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