Research into the business case for inclusive design

Businesses that are not accommodating customers with disabilities are missing out on their spending power by failing to develop inclusive digital websites, apps and products accessible to them.

Scope partnered with Open Inclusion and Barclays Access. We studied the spending and purchasing power of disabled people online. These findings support much of the feedback we have had from disabled people.

How a lack of inclusive design affects spending decisions

Half of people surveyed who had problems buying items ended up not buying the product. Another 48% found a different provider and purchased their products elsewhere.

Bar chart comparing user responses to the question "When you have problems buying goods or services on a website or app, or using an in-store machine, what do you do?" with 50% of respondents choosing not to buy the item, 48% finding an alternative provider and 32% asking someone else to help complete the purchase for them.

When businesses fail disabled customers online, most will choose to not to continue. Or find another company with a more accessible website. While respondents could select multiple options, these were the top responses:

  • 50% chose not to buy the item
  • 48% found an alternative provider to buy the item more easily
  • 32% asked someone in their household to complete the purchase for them

I’m unable to book tickets to theatres or gigs. Unable to find accessibility information for business and services online. Unable to flag to companies that I have access needs. For example, utility companies, doctors clinics.

Survey respondent

Where people experience the most digital accessibility issues

We know that accessibility issues are prominent in all industries. We asked disabled users which category most poor digital experiences fell into.

Bar chart showing where respondents experienced the 10 most common poor digital experiences per category. At the top is Groceries with 39% of people experiencing problems purchasing or ordering online. At second is Trains at 38%, Clothing and Footwear at 36%, food or drink to takeaway at 30% and so on.

At the top of the list was groceries. 39% of respondents said they had problems purchasing or ordering food or drink online.

Train-booking websites were the second most common area. 38% of users reporting difficulty using train travel services online. 36% of respondents reported poor digital experiences with clothing and footwear retailers.

Category for most common poor digital experiences Percentage of respondents who experienced issue
Groceries (food or drink to eat at home) 39%
Trains (above ground) 38%
Clothing and footwear 36%
Food or drink to eat out or takeaway 30%
Hotels, Motels, Bed and Breakfasts 26%
Entertainment, sports and leisure 25%
Phone and internet bills 25%
Homeware, furnishings, small appliances, garden products 22%
Utilities (electricity, water, gas, other fuels) 21%
Medical or dental services 19%


I would like to spend more than I currently do, but I can’t because it’s such a laborious task. If websites, apps and stores were more accessible, then I’d spend more. The Purple Pound is worth a lot. But businesses don’t seem to realise this and put the effort in to make their products and websites accessible in order to benefit from it.

Survey respondent


Most common accessibility barriers faced online

47% of respondents said website navigation was the main issue for them. Other issues included checkout requirements. 45% of respondents experienced a barrier to purchasing.

Accessibility issue Percentage of respondents who experienced issue
Navigating around the website 47%
Cannot complete CAPTCHA puzzle or other checkout requirements 45%
Difficulty registering online 34%
Having to use the phone service and speaking with a salesperson 30%
Difficulty finding things they want and putting them in the basket 28%
Worrying they will get scammed 28%
Worrying they will be charged extra money 27%
Finding it difficult to pay for things and check out 25%
Finding it difficult to understand the details of a website (like price or tariffs) 22%
Phone staff are not helpful or respectful 22%


The businesses missing out

75% of people think UK businesses are losing out because their services are not inclusive.

Bar chart comparing user responses to the question "Are UK businesses losing out because not enough products and services are designed well enough for disabled people?" With 75% of respondents replying with 'Yes', 7% of respondents saying 'No', and the remaining 18% saying "I don't know"

Disabled people were asked what they would like to spend more money on if there were no accessibility barriers.

  • 67% said entertainment, sports and leisure
  • 53% said clothing and footwear
  • 44% said hotel bookings


The potential of The Purple Pound

The latest Purple Pound estimate is £274 billion according to the ONS.

Graph charting the value of The Purple Pound over time from £207 billion in 2013 to 2014 soaring to £274 billion in 2017 to 2018.

The Purple Pound is the total income (after housing cost) of households with at least 1 disabled person.

We believe businesses can, and should, build more inclusive products and services.

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