Difi to supervise online shops: “potential for improvement”
The Norwegian Directorate for Administration and ICT (Difi) will investigate whether Norwegian online stores meet the requirements for universal design. They found a large number of breaches of the rules last time around.
Norway has since 2013 demanded that digital solutions must be «universally designed» – that is, easily accessible to everyone.
Difi launched spot checks of major online stores in Norway the following year, in order to investigate whether they meet these requirements. The results have been disappointing so far. The Directorate, therefore, announces another round of supervision of ten major online stores as of June 1st, 2019.
“Only half the supervisions of online stores have yielded results in line with the requirements for universal design. This means that many face major obstacles when shopping online,” Director of Supervision of Difi, Malin Rygg, informs.
“The online stores have a potential for improvement,” Rygg asserts.
Strong growth in internet shopping
Internet trade is growing strongly in Norway. the report of trade organisation Virke on trade for 2017/2018 shows that e-commerce is increasing considerably more than traditional retail. Figures from Statistics Norway (SSB), likewise, show that the online stores in Norway traded for more than NOK 21 billion in 2018, an increase of 13.5 per cent from the previous year.
Online stores are open 24/7, as opposed to traditional shops where you have to shop during set opening hours. The purpose of universal design of online stores is that everyone should be able to benefit from this shopping method.
“For customers with different disabilities, online shopping can be an important alternative to a physical store. Those who are visually impaired, should, for example, be able to read the colour and size of a garment in the online store, thus be able to trade without assistance. For the elderly, shopping online can make everyday life easier as you don’t have to walk to the store on slippery winter pavements, for example,” Rygg explains.
Coercive fines from Difi
The previous supervision of universal design from 2018 dealt with 22 online stores within sports, clothing, electronics, furniture, cosmetics and sundry. Just about half (52 per cent) of the tests complied with universal design requirements.
“Online stores will have a deadline to rectify the situation if a breach of regulations is revealed. If they do not, we have sanctions at our disposal. We may ultimately even impose coercive fines,” Rygg emphasizes.
The regulations on universal design also apply to payment terminals. 155,000 such terminals have been deployed in shops, kiosks, restaurants and petrol stations nationwide. For the time being, Difi has not supervised these, yet, but will start doing so as of 2020.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today