E-commerce seems to be changing faster and faster each year. Here are some of the trends we've noticed that are accessible yet have a real effect on sales.
1. Content-led e-commerce
Whilst this is a longer term trend, its now common for the front page of an e-commerce website to consist exclusively of content with no direct product links. Editorial content is used to suggest how items should be warn or simply to convey the brand ethos. The visitor can dive in to shopping when they need. As well as linking to products from the blog, it's now common to see product pages that link off to blog posts and for product pages to show instagram images of real customers wearing the items.
2. Link lookbooks with the relevant items
This one is prevalent in fashion, but it's worth mentioning. If you include a lookbook, make it easy to find and purchase the featured items, that's the goal in the first place.
3. Clear social proof
Whether this be press, testimonials, reviews or industry accreditations, make sure it's clear, especially if you're not a household name brand. This will reduce buyer anxiety and will help to build your brand.
The image above is taken from our client Raw to Door's website.
Another client of ours, Love Brownies, makes the industry awards she has received clear in the header and front page of their site.
4. Focus on what makes you unique
Having mentioned content-led e-commerce, it's also worth mentioning that if you're product is the thing that makes you unique, you should let that be the focus of the website. This is more common for practical, functional products.
5. Slideshows falling out of favour
The problem with a slideshow is that it doesn't solve a real problem: what to promote on the home page. Most users will only see the first slide. In the scrolling age it makes more sense to list out all the possible slide content in an appealing mosaic with a clear call to action where relevant, like 'Shop Occaisonwear' below.
6. Tell your story - briefly!
It's always good form to include some sort of 'About' page. Make sure you:
- Mention what makes you unique. This should be a heading or subheading, it's short, it's your pitch.
- After that, tell your story - how did you get started? What's happened since? A couple of short paragraphs is sufficient.
- You may also want to mention the process behind your goods if it's distinctive.
- Keep the whole thing brief quick to read.
- Photography of you or the process behind your product is engaging.
- Perhaps include FAQs or do this somewhere else. Link to both the About and FAQs page from the footer.
Huit denim do a great job of conveying their ethos, explaining their novel 'history tag' and how they've created jobs in a town that used to be known for its denim.
7. Make shipping options clear
Typically it's best practice to mention in your header if you offer:
- Free national shipping (or free over a certain order amount)
- International shipping
You should always be emphasising at least one of those. Adding a shipping fee at the cart stage is one of the easiest ways to loose sales and by offering a free shipping option you can protect most visitors from this thereby increasing sales.
If you can't offer free shipping at all, make sure your shipping rates are clear as early as the product page (next to the price).
8. Draw attention to sales
A red link to your clearance items can work for some brands and in general it's wise to include some sort of 'Sale' section for the bargain hungry segment of your audience.
Ensure that you show the saving or previous retail price to draw attention to the discount. A small icon that shows that the item is on sale is also a good way to draw attention to this.
9. Include a 'Bestsellers' section
Nasty Gal call this 'Our Most Loved Stuff', it's a good way to introducing new customers to the brand, providing inspiration and giving them a starting point for their shopping experience.
10. Use consistent, high quality photography
In the era of large retina screens and image zoom, it's more important than ever to have high quality products that clear show your products in use. Remember that in e-commerce, this is where the customer's first impression will come from and bad photography can easily hurt conversion rates.
Consistency in product images also goes a long way to making your site look more professional.
11. Quick shop pop ups
A recent trend is to include a 'quick shop' pop up where customers can add items to their cart without going on to the full product page.
I expect this comes about because customers often buy as they do in a physical store, adding stuff to cart as they go then reconsidering it later. Also, with this approach you aren't loading a new page each time a new product is clicked, something to keep in mind if you have a lot of mobile traffic where download speeds are typically slower.
12. Let customers filter
If you have a lot of products, ensure there's a way of filtering them that makes sense to the end user. A best practice example is River Island.
13. Email pop ups
Perhaps you don't like them, but they work and help you generate an email following that can pay dividends when you have a sale or new collection.
Don't be bothered about putting people off - our opinion is that it's more important to gather emails from those that could one day buy, versus those that aren't interested in the brand at all.
Hope that helps. If you have your own ideas, leave them in the comments below!