What makes an ecommerce store successful? What secret formula do you have to follow to increase your sales? We've teamed up with SHOPPIES and selected the next 50 sites for their flawless design, great customer service, unique ideas or just because they deliver an unforgettable experience to their visitors.
Making a good first impression is vital – how many poorly designed websites did you revisit after landing on them the first time? Learn from every single one, even if it's just a logo concept or an idea for your own manifesto, and apply these to your own store. And by the way, if you want to create an ecommerce store, here is a comparison between the major ecommerce platforms and shopping carts.
1. JOCO Cups
- Their “Why Joco” page tells the users all the reasons for buying this reusable cup, from the environmental concerns to the well designed cup and why it would be perfect as a gift for anyone who likes a cuppa, wether of coffee, matcha tea, kombucha or any other magic drink
- This page is also used as an up-sell option – you should try to feature some of your products on most of the pages to attract even more customers.
- Super cute and funky design, from the header to the patterned background and the happy star favicon.
- The main slider is filled with excellent product photos, just like the rest of the website.
- They offer DIY projects ideas and free printables as an incentive for their readers.
- Instead of having a list of books on their homepage, they chose to focus on a feeling: relaxing in bed while reading a great book.
- The “Gifts” button increases user activity. After you click on it you are greeted by this cool message: “Why give one book when you can give half a million?”
- Their blog and reviews section are frequently updated and they provide a lot of tempting titles for their readers.
- A fresh and cheerful design, all for a good cause – if your shop donates to charity or uses sustainable products, you can display this on the homepage too. It converts very well.
- The bottles have an eye-catching, creative design, some minimal, others very colorful. They don't stick to only one design.
- They have a very bold unique selling proposition : ‘Drink for Good – The only cause bottles you need.'
- Bold fonts and a nice mix of colors add up to a very cool, modern feel.
- The ‘$10 off coupon' helps bring in more subscribers, but it doesn't feel intrusive.
- As this charger dock had a lot of publicity, they have the ‘Featured On' widget about halfway on the page.
- These guys have a blog updated often, a feature on their German factory where they make the blades, and even a real life barbershop in New York. The visitor learns about all these just by scrolling on Harry's homepage.
- As they sell shaving goods, they thought of a smart way to keep clients on buying their products – a membership that delivers these products, all customized by the user.
7. Fallen Hero
- Fallen Hero has a very smooth checkout, allowing customers to buy without having to make an account or fill tens of fields. Easy and time effective.
- Overall, clean design with a modern layout and call to action buttons available in contrasting colors.
8. Uncle Goose
- The curly brackets that appear on mouseover on the items in the main navigation area are a nice touch. These also appear on each product name.
- Awesome photos and powerful uppercase font that, surprisingly, doesn't bother the eye.
- Smooth navigation and a very minimal design, with a white background and thin, retro looking font.
- The shipping calculator allows the customer to see the exact shipping fees before submitting all the details.
10. Emerson Fry
- A well known name in the world of fashion, Emerson Fry blends their shop and blog on the same page – a great way to get more targeted visitors and to increase their search engines ranking.
- Super clean design, the only intrusion being the right sidebar ‘Service' tab that's a live chat system.
- To avoid cluttering the header area, they opted instead to display all their info like shipping, promotions or returns, in the footer, visible only to those who scroll to the end of the page.
- This is a very experimental site. The 360 degree view is very creative and a wise choice for a bed & breakfast. Check the website, the picture below doesn't do it any justice.
- A well chosen unique selling proposition can make all the difference. ‘A home away from HOME' pictures exactly what people want to experience when visiting other cities/countries.
- The ‘BOOK HERE' button is made more visible so visitors don't get confused, especially with this rather different website design.
12. Craft Beer Hound
- Well thought out name. It stands out and it's easy to remember too.
- Talking about knowing your niche! These two gals – yep, two ladies are behind this super cool store – sell everything a beer aficionado might need, from glasses and coasters to cap collectors.
- Super personalized newsletter: ‘Brewsletter Sign Up' and once users subscribe they also get a free Craft Beer Hound sticker after they add their mailing address. If you already have a big list of subscribers, here's how to make the most of your email database.
- Instead of featuring a boring rant, Capello's went the other way and wrote about an Argentinian tradition while also adding a short recipe.
- The product packaging, while black and white, is both ethnic and modern.
- Esqido has a very attractive and simple approach to its referral program – every referred person that buys, gives the referral $10. If you take into account that the most expensive lashes are less than $50, this is a sweet deal. The buyer gets back 20%, a big chunk.
- The Olark ‘Message Us' chat grabs the questions people might have and “pushes” them to the ‘Buy it' button.
15. Muma Health
- Once users click on the ‘Cart' icon, they're redirected to a page where they can find the estimated shipping fees by simply selecting the country and zipcode – this reduces cart abandonment and helps customers decide faster if they want to buy or not.
- On this page, like on any other page of the site, there's the “Muma – click for 5% off” that's actually a smart and non intruding newsletter popup.
- The second you land on this website you know they sell luxury products – sleek, modern theme with gorgeous product photography.
- On the main page they have links to everything, from product categories to ‘Gift Cards', ‘Mailing List' or ‘Wishlist', making it easier to find something.
- Awesome idea and awesome products: small gifts made cool with a personalized handwritten message and cute gift boxes. Lovely page design and product photos, very Instagram like vibe.
- Clean design with the links within the main navigation linking to anything someone who ends up on the site might be looking for.
18. Simply Gum
- Gorgeous one page layout which makes for a very intuitive navigation.
- Clean design, no popups or disturbing scripts, just scrolling up and down.
- They displayed above the fold all the info the user needs, the flavors, and the fact that their gum is 100% natural, the last one being a huge selling point.
- The flavor photos are a nice touch as they look more tempting than a simple gum pack.
- Simplicity at its best. Simple design, a product slider featuring the latest deals and products, plus easy navigation.
- The newsletter and social networks buttons are displayed in the footer area to avoid distraction.
20. Nasty Gal
- Very few people want to buy something that's from an older collection, especially if we're talking fashion. Nasty Gal has a ‘What's New' section where the visitors can browse their latest stuff by a lot of filters, including price, color and size.
- As you scroll, you're accompanied by a ‘Live Chat' button where you can ask for help regarding product sizing, shipping or even get styling advice – the last one is very important as it can usually mean the difference between a sale and an abandoned cart.
21. Active Hound
- Here we have a simple design with collapsible categories which allow the user to have a glance at your categories without having to browse the site.
- The ‘Reviews' tab in the left side of the website appears on every page and it's a great way to gather more reviews or to attract new customers.
- The design will make you crave for ice cream badly. The super tasty photos and the GIFs are a nice touch.
- Their ‘Flavors to spoon' link that leads to their flavors page is hilarious and makes users want to click.
23. Winestore Online
- A hell of a wine store, this one might not have a very catchy name, but it has a very strong and smart design, with a nice choice of fonts and colors.
- As you can see, every wine has some little icons for color, body, and flavor so it’s a lot easier to pick the perfect wine.
- Not only this, the product filters are very well thought out too, from price tag to pairings and occasions – the “breaking up” one is quite hilarious.
- “It all began over 20 years ago when Chrissie, unable to find well-designed, beautiful quality bed linen, principally in white, established The White Company to make them.” If you created your website for a specific reason – other than making money – say so in your ‘About Us' page.
- The ‘Our Journey' slider takes the visitor from 1994, when the business was launched, up to today, and tells the exact story behind this very famous brand.
- This is how you organize your categories the right way: their teas are listed by types (herbal and fruit ones), by source, and they even feature the tea of the week pick. It's way more easier to find something and it's also tempting to check back and see what new pick they have for the tea of the week. Am I right?
- You find out if they ship worldwide and how much the UK shipping fees are – where they ship it from – from their main page, which eases up the process thus helping users decide if they want to keep on browsing or not.
- Forget Amazon, Made has an incredibly well thought out product page. There's a video, a ton of extra pictures – including customer pictures – and a lot of details, from size to shipping fees.
- Every page has the related products feature which keeps the visitor on site and increases the chances of an up-sell.
- Once you add a product to the cart, a popup opens showing the product added and a slider with other relevant products, allowing the users to spot something they might have missed.
- On the ‘Cart' page the shipping fees are automatically displayed – by default for France, the country from where they ship – but once users go to the next step, the fee updates based on weight and the country added.
- Let your visitors know that your website is very secure and they're not exposed to any risks. ‘Secured Payment' does exactly this and it also lists the type of payments used.
28. Bedford Slims
- These guys decided to have a “how to” guide for their e-cigs. This is a smart way to cut down on the support emails they receive.
- Nice, simple layout that features everything, from current deals to their social platforms activity.
29. Acne Studios
- Acne Studios has a different approach when it comes to their categories. Instead of having a lot of product filters, like ASOS, for example, they simply have everything on one page. If you have a lot of products, this strategy might not work as this will affect the load speed of the site, but otherwise it's a really cool feature.
- When users scroll on the page, they're greeted with a small personalized newsletter popup, the female/male option helps her/him get more targeted content.
- You get a very warm, cozy feeling when you land on the website. It suits the niche they're in, and that's what smart design does.
- Minimal design paired with simple product labels work towards the simple, uncomplicated life they want to promote.
- If people don't want to splurge $25 on a single candle, they can order a scent sampler for only a fraction of the price. That's genius and it's sure to lure customers to order.
31. Pact Coffee
- Telling a story has never been this easy. Just by scrolling their main page you find out what they sell, when you'll get it, and what happens if you don't like it.
- A fresh and modern design, with a thin font and very appealing icons/pictures.
- Phone number displayed in the footer area, so the visitor doesn't have to click too many times before seeing it.
- Knowing your audience well is very important, and these guys here did their homework. The design is very modern and with funky touches, just like their targeted audience.
- Temporary tattoos can be a hit-or-miss so knowing how to apply them right is essential. Their guide is both useful and fun. This is their advice for those who want to remove a tattoo: “Remove it? Are you serious? It looks so lovely on you. Ok, fine!”
33. Clay + Bros.
- All the action happens on the main page. The users are redirected only when they want to check out, making the navigation pretty effortless.
- Again, because their sandals require some effort in putting on, they added a simple video to show exactly how to do this.
- On this page the visitor can also find a printable sizing guide that can be downloaded, printed, and tried by simply putting the foot on the piece of paper. Clever, right?
34. Harvey Nichols
- A very cool layout is paired with gorgeous product photos and simple navigation.
- The' Recently Viewed' field helps users find a product they saw without having to follow the exact same steps they followed the first time.
- Even if the site has a lot of visuals – the product slider, the categories, featured articles or brand focuses – it loads very fast, which is vital.
- The navigation is simplified tremendously with the drop-down categories which allow users to go directly to the category that interests them the most, instead of having to click through 4-5 pages.
- Simple and responsive design, with neatly organized products.
- ‘The 5% Off' popup for those who subscribe is a great marketing strategy. People are always tempted to get a discount, especially if the only thing they have to do is to subscribe.
- Another great decision is to have the Olark live chat plugin which allows visitors to have their questions answered immediately.
- Gorgeous and minimal one page layout.
- The design has a very organic vibe, the Cone’s design fitting perfectly in this scheme.
- Perfectly structured support page, answering a lot of question, from shipping to Cone’s settings and apps.
- Does your website have a manifesto? This one is quite simple but it covers their past, present and future.
- The somewhat vintage effect fits very well with the products they sell.
- Also, each piece of jewelry has a very explanatory picture that shows exactly how it looks. This is very helpful for those intricate pieces of jewelry where you aren’t able to see all the details. A small element, but it can be very helpful for the wavering customers.
39. Leader Bag Co
- Minimal, one page website that focuses on delivering a very smooth experience for its customers.
- Gorgeous product photography for something that is usually considered not too glamorous: the diaper bag.
- The dots scroll bar allows visitors to know just how much they have to scroll. A very useful feature for one-page websites.
- Even a FAQ page can look good and this site stands proof. Instead of the plain text page we see on most stores, here we have text, images and a video, tackling areas like shipping and basic product features.
- Design wise, the now classic full width page and a bigger, chunkier font make up for some very interesting visuals.
- Because they sell a product – the Bellroy slim wallet – that fixes an issue, the one of bulging wallets, they have a page just for this, where visitors can use a slider and compare the Bellroy wallet with a regular one to see the actual difference between the two wallets.
- To further help their customers, these guys break their products in two categories, making it easier to pick the right one.
- Callaway Golf has a responsive design packed with super quality, high-resolution pictures.
- If you think your product page needs a few touch ups, check theirs. It has everything from videos helping you decide if the golf club you want to buy checks all the boxes it should, to a lot of updates and tweets.
- The Cart Page is also very well designed, featuring related products the customer might like – great up-sell – and detailed shipping info.
43. Free People
- Customers, meaning women, can get lost browsing the homepage. This alone has enough content to stare at for a couple of minutes, linking to various collections and products.
- Product navigation is in the main menu, right under their logo, while customer service pages and all the social links are in the footer to avoid cluttering an already super full design.
- Their blog is perhaps one of the best ones at this moment, having around 3-4 posts daily and providing unique content both for their readers and for search engines.
- Creative design and very explanatory home page. After a couple of seconds you find out what they’re selling.
- Clean navigation, the menu pops up after you click on the three horizontal lines next to the cart, and the buyer has all the info there.
- This is such a fun shop! “Oh look, you lost your instructions. No biggie. We lose our kids sometimes.” – this is above the link for ironing instructions. If you can use humor, do it.
- Nordstrom is a strong contender for ‘the highly optimized and well designed product page' prize. Customers can find everything here, from product info to reviews.
- A super smart thing they use is the ‘See fit information from our customers' link which redirects the user to the customer reviews field located beneath. Not only this, but they also have a feature that allows customers to find their ‘True Fit', which is very useful in the clothing industry.
- Great customer service isn't the only thing they do by the book, Nordstrom also has free shipping which is one of the most important things people look for when it comes to online shopping.
- The small ‘Brands', ‘Customer care' and ‘Favorites' fields that follow the users as they scroll up and down, are very handy and time efficient.
- Right above the footer they have image categories. Very tempting to click on them.
- Their homepage is very self-explanatory, featuring the latest collections, some products worthy to be on a ‘Wish List' and even links to their street style advice.
- The illustrated categories make the site easier to navigate, especially if a non-French user happens to land on the French version of the site.
- As many other examples, this one also has a product slider with their current offers and deals.
48. Pop Chart Lab
- This is for all charts lovers out there. From ‘The evolution of bicycles' to ‘The Beatles song chart', here you can find pretty much anything, all displayed in a retro manner on a super modern layout.
- They take things to the extreme. Even their logo is a miniature chart.
- Once a product is added to the cart, a small popup appears showing links to ‘Checkout' and other related products, so no time consuming redirects.
- The ‘Want $10 credit?' surely gets a lot of clicks and translates into a lot of unplanned purchases, especially if shipping fees are low.
- Other than that, their product page – basically their whole website – is a masculine version of Free People: eye candy products, cool photos and even some street style snaps.
- The deconstructed shoe picture was a great idea. All customers need and like to know exactly what they’re getting.
50. Madsen Cycles
- As you might have noticed already, this site uses the same theme as Creatures & Features, but they decided to add an Instagram widget. It's friendlier and the user can get a glimpse behind the brand.
- Gorgeous product photos, pure eye candy, regardless if you're a cycling fan or not.
What are the biggest ECOMMERCE trends of 2015?
2015 promises to be a year of record sales and with the fine line between online and offline being even more blurred, it will be very exciting to see what's next. These are some of the most important trends to keep an eye on, whether you've been in the field for quite some time or you're just starting out.
In 2013 only 4.5% of the Top 500 Internet Retailers had a responsive website, while 70% of mobile searches finalized with an action in less than an hour. Customers should land on well designed, responsive websites, with an interactive design, so they don’t have to go through the hassle of browsing through products on a site that isn’t mobile friendly, not with so many other competitors to choose from.
2. SEO is still the king
Yes, social media is still very important but at this moment it's drastically outranked by organic searches. Organic searches lead up to 51% of the traffic while social platforms barely make it to 5%. Use the right keywords in the right places without overstuffing the page, use Google AdWords keyword tool to find other relevant keywords, add product reviews, optimize your pictures for image search, there's a ton of things that can do a lot for your rankings and most of them don't require hiring someone, you can do these yourself. So, focus on your SEO tactics – here you'll find out what platform is optimized best for search engines, while leaving social media for second place. If your time allows you to focus on just one, then pick the first one.
3. The art of storytelling
People want to know the backstory, the reason why you started your ecommerce store and why you want them to buy your products. It’s healthier, better looking, it’s environmental friendly, X percentage of the sales go to charity, you had problems finding the right product and you decided to make it yourself, just pick the one that applies to you and write your own story.
It can be the product, the package or the content on the site. Use the one that works best.
“The point is, nobody just wakes up and says “I’m going to buy a lawnmower.” The reason they are interested in a particular product is that they’re trying to solve a problem or they want to improve their lives and they think that this product can help them do that.” Glenn Conradt
4. Free & fast shipping
Well, obviously, since Zappos, Amazon, and in the recent years, ASOS, started using the magic words “Free Shipping”, customers are more inclined to buy, even if it’s not a planned purchase. Making those free deliveries reach the customers a lot faster means removing the barriers from online and offline shopping.
Now, more and more stores focus on implementing free returns as well. Charging customers for returns can save companies a few dollars, but in the long run they lose big time. Amanda Bower says that shoppers who benefited from free returns will boost their purchases with 50 to 350 percent in later orders.
5. Social Networks
In 2014 alone, 75% of orders coming from social platforms had three sources: Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.
Target has taken this into practice and their customers can see the most popular products, ranked by pin popularity and views.
Facebook and Twitter ads will be even more popular ways to advertise to a smartly targeted audience, increasing your popularity and driving more sales. Platforms that rely mostly on visuals will most likely have a serious increase as people are more and more looking for pleasant images and videos rather than reading two lines of text. Marketers spending more than 40 hours each week (!!!) on social networks focus on Instagram 46% more, while overall Facebook ranked no.1, with 94%. Improving your social media strength will help you gain new customers and remind older customers you're still in business.
6. Products and content on the same page
This goes way beyond your average ‘Recommended Products' or ‘New In' features, it means lists and guides on how to wear/use those products. Helpful advice, guides, styling options, thematic wishlists, 2015 will be all about the content that keeps users engaged and buying a product they didn’t know they needed or wanted. All this pre-purchase info is very valuable to any customer, regardless of the niche.
7. Round-the-clock customer service
Location is less and less important. If users land on your website from a completely different time zone and have a question for your customer service/live chat, you can bet they won’t come around in 10-12 hours to see if anybody’s up.
Gartner emphasizes just how much businesses are starting to invest in the customer service experience their customers have, spending 45% to keep buyers and 55% to get new ones.
8. Focus more on big shopping days
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, the two are huge shopping magnets so you have to think ahead and plan your strategy. These 20 infographics will help you understand exactly how big these days are. What to put on sale, how to promote it, how to make sure your site is up for it and doesn’t crush after a couple of hours (it can happen even to the best of us) are just some of the things that should be on your list.
So, keyword research, good hosting and a whole lot of marketing, plus promotional emails and posts informing everyone in advance.
9. Parallax scrolling
Sounds quirky but it basically means the background is moving slower than the foreground, resulting in a 3D experience. This isn't something that can be whipped together just for the sake of keeping up with the trends, it has to be fully functional otherwise the visitor will most likely close the page. Atlantis World's Fairs and Nintendo Game Boy are fairly nice examples. Check them out.
10.Reducing or cutting down entirely inventory costs
Zulily applied this successfully and now geared up towards drop-shipping to cut down on delivery time. Customers get a huge discount but have to wait more for their orders, making these purchases only suited for certain items that aren't needed right away. It sure has its own disadvantages, but low costs and time effectiveness are the two main reasons why this is a big trend for 2015. Off course, if you sell digital goods, inventory isn't an issue.
How many of these aspects do you focus on already? Creating a successful online business doesn't come easy. You always have to focus on delivering the ultimate experience to your customers, to analyze your competition while doing your best to stay ahead and to know when it's time to change gears. To wrap things up, it seems ecommerce will hit new records this year and a well thought out plan can make all the difference. Choose an ecommerce platform that works for you. This guide will help you eliminate those that don't suit your niche. And get going, push your online store to the limits.