There’s no uniform way to deliver a positive shopping experience to the customers of your eCommerce site. Like brick and mortar stores, every business has a different goal and each approach is as unique as the brand itself.
If you walk into a Walmart, for example, it’s a much different experience than stepping foot into a Brooks Brothers. Neither one is necessarily better or worse than the other. They simply provide different experiences that best serve not only their customers but also their own bottom line.
All eCommerce sites come in various shapes and sizes. While there’s plenty of overlap and similarities, all of the best sites say something different to their customers. These designs and features are implanted with their customers in mind. Because the cost barriers to open an online store are so much lower than opening a brick and mortar store, a lot of online retailers are doing some interesting things that everyone can learn from.
Take a look at some of these to find some inspiration for your online store.
If you haven’t heard of Jet yet, then you soon will. Walmart acquired this fairly young company for $3.3 billion, so you can expect that the world’s largest retailer will utilize some of the design elements for this online store upstart.
Jet is hyped as a competitor to Amazon, so the front pages of both sites look fairly similar and highlight a number of products—from electronics to household essentials. What sets Jet apart (and why it was acquired for so much money) is the variety of tricks and techniques they use to lower prices.
These features, such as rewards programs and discounts for ordering multiple items, are new to most customers. That’s why Jet highlights these features front and center on their page. These features are given more prominence than the products themselves, and that strategy seems to be working for Jet. The company is growing by 400,000 customers a month who are looking for better deals.
Products are important for any online store, but it’s just as important to highlight other value propositions that your site offers. If there’s something unique about your business, you might want to consider featuring it as prominent as possible on your page. For example, profits might go to charity, the products are organic/Fair Trade, or you have a unique discount system. Anything along these lines deserves prime real estate on your home page.
Most online retailers present an overwhelming number of products on their front page. It works for Amazon, but not every online store can make this work. Researchers have discovered the “paradox of choice,” where an abundance of choice increases anxiety. People are sometimes happier with fewer options at their disposal.
My Own Bike, a German bicycle company where customers can customize high-end bicycles, avoids the paradox of choice with an effective minimalist design. The eCommerce site’s in German, but you can clearly see how well designed their page is. A single bike is on the front page, and clicking on it lets users customize it in real time.
Such a pared-back approach doesn’t work for every online store, but it does show that less is sometimes more. Try experimenting with different designs to see if a streamlined approach can help you convert customers.
If you’re buying a T-shirt, you don’t necessarily need a detailed description of what the product does and why you should buy it. However, if you’re looking for a product that costs a couple thousand dollars, extra information is necessary before taking the plunge.
CopperSmith deals in all things copper, from sinks to lighting. Their page for range hoods (the fans that go over your stove) shows exactly how to both highlight your range of products while giving valuable information that can help sway buyers. At the bottom of the page, beneath the list of products, is important information about why you should consider buying a range hood made out of copper. The information is concise, yet detailed enough to make buyers comfortable.
Customers need information before making a purchase online, especially if it’s a site they haven’t used before. If you’re selling technical or niche related products, you might want to consider adding more information rather than less in order to win over some customers. There’s definitely such a thing as overwhelming the customers with information, so it’s all about finding that sweet spot.
If you’re selling great products, you want to make sure customers see them in the best possible light. Studio photos are useful for some products, but other times it works to show the product in action. Best Made, which sells high-quality tools and camping equipment, does this with excellent photography that shows their products being used.
Their photography makes the products look more tangible than most other sites. For such hands-on products, Best Made’s use of photography is the perfect fit. Such an approach could work for you depending on your products and the quality of the photos.
What Works Best for You?
These examples show that there are a number of unique components to any eCommerce site. What works for one site could be completely ineffective on another site. With that in mind, plenty of planning and experimentation is needed to find out what works best for your site. These four examples are good places to start. Take an inventory of every single eCommerce site you visit to find elements that you like and best fit your brand.