Skip to main content



The challenge: Help a broader range of customers—including older people and people with visual impairments—shop online.

The solution: Mitsukoshi worked with IBM to create a more accessible Web site for summer gift promotions, resulting in an enhanced shopping experience for a broader customer base.

The benefit: It is anticipated that the new design and capabilities will boost online sales, helping put the company on track to reach an aggressive fiscal target.

Reaching out to more customers

Founded in 1673, Mitsukoshi is the oldest and one of the most prestigious retail stores in Japan. Because many of its customers are older and in a higher economic bracket, Mitsukoshi believed there was significant value to be obtained from focusing on Web accessibility to help facilitate online buying during high-traffic shopping seasons. In response, they set out to deploy a more accessible Web site to help more people shop and buy online. Mitsukoshi's goals for the project were to:

  • Meet the Web-accessibility requests of many older customers and customers with visual impairments.
  • Capitalize on the summer and winter gift-giving seasons.
  • More than double its previous year's Internet sales.

Partnering for the right accessibility solution

To reach its goal, Mitsukoshi engaged IBM Tokyo Research Lab and IBM Business Consulting Services (BCS). Together, they designed a plan that included developing an accessibility guideline (AG), conducting a Web-site assessment and redesigning Mitsukoshi's summer gift promotion Web site.

First, IBM and Mitsukoshi worked to create an AG for the store's Web site based on recommendations and requirements outlined in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG). The IBM team then performed a site analysis using the new AG and Web-site checking tools. With the information they obtained from the analysis, IBM assisted in a Web-site redesign process which included the installation of IBM Easy Web Browsing, a user-friendly Web interface developed by IBM Japan.

Delivering a better online user experience

Mitsukoshi's new summer gift promotion Web site leverages Easy Web Browsing to help enable novice Internet users, older consumers or people with visual impairments to easily navigate and view the Web site. IBM's Easy Web Browsing optimizes Web pages with character enlargement, voice synthesizer technology and options that allow users to change font sizes and background colors based on their own visual preferences.

Once Mitsukoshi customers download Easy Web Browsing from the summer gift shopping site, they can easily display enlarged text and have it read by a voice synthesizer by simply moving the screen pointer to the part of the site that they wish to read. Consumers who suffer from color blindness, cataracts or visual impairments can also easily change the background color of the screen and color of the text to facilitate enhanced viewing.