Offering an ecommerce business solution where customers can experience your products online is just the first step toward success. It takes a branded, easy-to-use design coupled with awesome site functionality to grow your online business.
Have no fear: with the right ecommerce platform and supporting plugins, this is easier than ever before!
Here is a list of our favorite online stores:
What Makes An Awesome Online Store
You may have done some reading on what to look for in an ecommerce platform, but even with an out-of-the-box configuration, you’ll still need to know how to optimize essential features (e.g. inventory management tools, drag-and-drop landing page design, etc.).
Taking it a step further, consumers also seek features and functionalities like onsite search and navigation, comprehensive product information, and a product detail page that provides a rich sense of the product.
In this post, I’ll give you a step-by-step guide on how to optimize these key features, so you can give your online store the “awesome” factor it needs.
1. Easy site navigation.
This is the first and, arguably, the most important step to optimizing your ecommerce site.
Easy site navigation is essential because it’s what customers use to find your products!
There a few key components to site navigation that you’ll want to pay attention to.
When customers visit your store, one of the first features they will interact with is your guided navigation.
Often located beneath the site header, the guided navigation is tied to your company’s categories and subcategories, referred to as product taxonomy, and can include other promotional or seasonal categories (e.g. new arrivals, back to school, Mother’s Day).
It is crucial that your merchandising team lives close to the taxonomy to ensure all products are located in the correct category.
Not all customers use the guided navigation, and some will instead complete a keyword search.
Let’s set up an example: Mary wants to search for a specific necklace that she heard about from her friend Suzie. Mary goes to the search bar and types in gold necklace, but is overwhelmed when she finds 50 results.
By optimizing your search to include category specific filters (e.g. jewelry metal, chain length, pendant style) and sort by options (e.g. low price to high price, featured), you provide your customers with an easier and more direct solution. This search solution is commonly known as faceted search.
Once your customer makes their way to a product detail page, you hope they will either add to cart or continue exploring the site. Adding features such as ‘You May Also Like’ or ‘Top Selling Items’ underneath the product detail information can reduce your bounce rate.
With the implementation of an ecommerce platform, this can be done with artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning. This means your ecommerce store can deliver product suggestions based on purchases and customer activity (e.g. search history).
2. Easy checkout, shipping options and payment process.
Your customer has placed items in their shopping cart, and they are ready to complete their purchase. Generate conversion by making sure you have a seamless checkout experience with easy and optimal shipping and payment process options in place.
Some tips for creating a seamless checkout process:
- Minimize the amount of pages customers have to experience.
- Offer multiple payment options (e.g. debit or credit card, Apple Pay, PayPal).
- Allow quick account registration.
- Avoid over-validating forms.
3. Quality website design.
Fun fact: 48% of consumers claim a website’s design is the top factor in determining the credibility of a business.
Adding to that precedent, by general rule of thumb, consumers make a first impression of your site within 10 seconds. It goes without saying that quality online store design can make or break customer retention.
Crowded web design is one of the most popular mistakes made by small businesses. Too much content (e.g. text, visuals, advertisements) can steer customers away from your site due to feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.
Other common mishaps include lack of call to action (CTA) buttons and whitespace, poor web typography, and hidden navigation.
What can you do to attract your customers? Implement a flat design, a modern-day user interface (UI) approach – recognizable by its simplistic, clean, and less data-heavy characteristics.
Clear CTA buttons, legible typography, crisp imagery, and an easy path-to-purchase all promote confidence in your customers’ experience with your online store.
4. High-quality photos and excellent copy for product descriptions.
You have a beautifully designed and branded website, so it’s no surprise that you need high-quality photos and superb product descriptions, right?
To set the stage as to how important this is, 47% of users look at product detail pages before exploring any other landing page.
Convince your customers that your site is the one for them by implementing standards for product images and descriptions.
Your high-quality product image standard should include these three rules:
- Each product should be captured at different angles (bonus points if you enable 360 image view functionality, like this one).
- Each product should be displayed on a solid color background (preferably white).
- Each product should have a marketing styled photo (e.g. a modeled handbag).
When it comes to product descriptions, your standard should include these three rules:
- Each description should be clear and concise, only including attributes and product type.
- Each description should be written in title case.
- Each description should include relative search engine optimization (SEO) product keywords.
Your online business’s marketing strategy will benefit from high-quality photos and product descriptions.
Let’s set up an example: Amanda is a customer on your site and she finds a bicycle she loves, but wants a second opinion.
She sends the product detail page link to a friend via text, Facebook Messenger, or another social media outlet. Thanks to your exceptional work on images and descriptions, the link preview showcases your brand and product in the best light.
This work will also be reflected when customers explore shoppable social media posts.
5. Product reviews help sales.
Customers trust genuine and authentic reviews.
Due to this, enabling user generated content (UGC) on your product detail pages can be very beneficial. Don’t believe me? Recent surveys have shown that 41% of users read online reviews ‘most of the time’ before purchasing a new product.
As society continues to become more digitally-savvy, brands have included product reviews and other UGC in their marketing strategy. It’s now common for customers to engage with brands via social media, commenting on everything from the brand experience as a whole to specific product reviews.
By leveraging this behavior on your product detail pages, you increase engagement and have the power to strongly improve purchasing confidence, customer feedback, and an authentic shopping experience for your customers.
While we know that enabling product reviews can provide great benefits overall, a recent survey found that customers value information on product performance and satisfaction the most.
Per the chart below, we know that other information like quality over time, description accuracy, and value still impacts purchasing decisions.
6. Fast load times and a great mobile experience.
There’s nothing customers hate more than slow load times.
It’s crucial to optimize both your desktop and mobile experience for minimal loading times.
Focusing on this will reduce your bounce rate which in turn means more engagement and conversion. An easy way to work toward faster load times is by optimizing your content.
7. Great customer support.
The six features above are worthless without customer support. When your customers need a resource to turn to, make sure you have some options readily available. Great examples of customer support include live chat (preferably powered by AI) and easy-to-find contact information (e.g. curated ‘Contact Us’ landing page, footer details, or on the product detail page).
Whichever solution you choose to implement, make sure you have a plan in place that allows your brand to address all customer support questions within 24-48 hours.
Bottom line: the faster you can assist your customers, the more likely they are to continue doing business with you.
Examples Of Ecommerce Stores We Love
When you mix innovative design with awesome site functionality, you find successful ecommerce stores like the ones below. Take note of what makes each of their sites unique, what features they use to highlight their brand and products, and what you can learn from their success.
2018 BigCommerce Best Category or Product Page Design Award winner, Skullcandy, knows a thing or two about how to attract customers to their vibrant product detail pages. Their brand-resonating imagery and minimalist approach to highlighting products makes customers feel confident in their purchasing decision.
Marucci’s content-driven landing pages make for easy navigation across the site. In the guided navigation, they indicate new categories and map out their products.
On category specific and product detail pages, customers find crisp, high-quality product content and customized recommendations.
Sierra Designs makes it easy for customers to determine what products they need. The moment you enter the site, the brand brings your attention to their award-winning products and #thinkoutside motto. Plus, you can even shop pages exclusively designed for newbie adventurers or seasoned backpackers.
Famous for high-quality guitars and accessories, Gibson encourages customers to explore and find their style online. After one of their slick designs sparks attention, customers are met with extensive product information and a variety of options. To seal the deal, the 3-step online checkout process and authorized dealer locator tool quickly bring you closer to your next musical adventure.
There’s nothing much better than food delivery, especially when you can gift it. Customers can explore different themed clubs or order individually packaged items and be pleasantly surprised to find mouth-watering product images and excellent descriptions.
The well known hair and beauty company takes its ecommerce store to new heights. Offering styling advice, salon and school locators, and best selling product information for different hair types, the site provides customers a personalized experience.
Another example of amazing design. This ecommerce website uses an eye-catching, vibrant color palette to spark interest for new customers.
Offering unique services like MountFinder™ and HeighFinder™ is what sets Sanus apart from its competitors. With easy to use navigation, embarking on a customer journey is simple.
Spinning serves many different customer types, however, their harmonious brand design bridges customer experiences together. Directly from the homepage, customers learn that Spinning offers it all.
Another 2018 BigCommerce award-winning online store, Anchor & Crew recently optimized their site design to accomodate for three additional language-based subdomains (French, German, and Spanish to be exact).
Simple and advanced all at once. Customers can find out about promotions, categories, and benefits of choosing Old Spice Barber Shop all in one place – the homepage. Easy checkout process included!
With a large product catalog, a simple and easy to use site is essential. Flash Tattoos successfully combines a clean design with customer support, product taxonomy, and customized options.
BigCommerce 2018 Overall Design award winner here! This online store does a great job marrying product education and product taxonomy. Did we mention they also engage with product reviews? Take note of the success contributed from these features.
Known for their pregnancy safe and dermatologist recommended products, Belli Skincare doesn’t miss an opportunity to share their benefits. With informed landing and product detail pages, customers can expect great product quality (and, for this, are more likely to return).
With many options, finding the healthy choice for children can be tough. KidsChoo solves this headache by providing a well-managed guided navigation experience. Customers have the choice to explore products based off different product tags. Talk about usability!
This online store is driven by on brand design and messaging. With only one item (in various pack sizes), RebelPi makes it a priority to share benefits and unique traits with customers. Showcasing an exceptional design adds an exclusive feel.
Baskits has already done the hard work of curating the perfect gifting box while optimizing their site for usability, design and personalization. Customers who shop with Baskits can expect to come to a purchasing decision with ease.
BonBonBon shows how simple it is for customers to order customizable items. The build a box feature is eye-catching in both design and product detail information.
Minimalist inspired, this whitespace design leaves the focus on what’s most important: high-quality tea from around the world. With in depth product detail information, customers are given an abundance of resources to help them choose a product.
Pilot Coffee Roasters stands apart from the rest of these sites for one reason: setting the stage with video content. The homepage video provides great brand education, while highlighting product benefits. Plus, checkout is easy with each step outlined on one page.
Hyphen Sleep takes pride in its reviews, so much so that they feature them right on the homepage. The site design shapes a customer journey grounded in this confidence.
The Kohler Collection design is shaped with experience at heart. Customers are invited to explore products associated with the three experiences: heritage, maker, golf, spa, and outdoor.
Interior design can have a lot of complexity, but Knobs.Co’s easy to use navigation makes it simple for customers to gain information on what services are available to help with home improvements.
Want to see whitespace captured beautifully? Visit Eloquence’s ecommerce store. Product imagery is embraced throughout the homepage design and categories are easy to shop. Best part? Checkout steps are all on one webpage.
This home accessories brand makes products the key focus, has great categorization, and a simple checkout process.
Display Rabbit offers a different type of product detail function: image file uploads. The site functionality makes it easy for customers to select different options and connect with the Display Rabbit team to make sure all the details are covered.
This website was built for athletes. Exceptional web design paired with guided navigation, painless checkout process, and great promotional management.
The vibrant imagery placed upon whitespace lures customers into this ecommerce store. Categories are available both in the guided navigation and on landing page content. Plus, customers can see competitive pricing on product detail pages, so they can be confident in their purchase.
Predictive search helps customers find products with ease in Ben & Jerry’s online store.
Woolrich has perfected inventory management within the store experience. Customers can expect to see real-time inventory stock when items start to become scarce. A great feature to increase conversion!
Clark’s Australia site delivers beautiful design and excellent product imagery. Their AfterPay integration provides customers with options to finance their purchase. Flexible options often lead to increased conversion, so it’s a win-win for everyone.
With a web design that speaks to the brand, Native Union uses its ecommerce site to differentiate themselves from the rest.
Shopping for a wedding dress is a special moment and Revelry makes sure its customers know they believe it. With great attention to detail on both design and product detail page information, customers can be sure that Revelry’s selection will compliment their special day.
This online fashion designer offers breathtaking content to support the brand and its luxury products. Highlighting everything from recent runway shows to social media provides customers with a one-in-a-million experience.
The ultimate use of whitespace design. The use of white (including white plates) highlights the delicious homestyle pies for purchase. Better yet, product detail pages let you choose a pick up date, eliminating a step in the checkout process.
Shopping for clothing online can be overwhelming. Bohemian Traders eliminates customer anxiety with its fun design and variety of product images. To offer flexible payment options, customers can choose to finance with AfterPay or Zip.
Essential Label has a different approach to upselling. With their #treatyourself recommendations on product detail pages, they present higher-quality customer recommendations. This strategy and design is a contributor to raising average order value (AOV).
When you arrive on the homepage, Jambu & Co. doesn’t waste any time educating customers on their exceptional product benefits and options. For customers who may not know exactly what they are looking for, they also provide a short quiz to help point users in the right direction.
Decibullz highlights their products through engaging multimedia content, convincing customers that their niche product is an absolute must have. When customers are ready to check out, they’ll be met with advanced payment options like Amazon Pay and PayPal.
With strong social media acquisition, The Pink Lily Boutique leverages its relationships with influencers to create compelling landing and product detail page content. Customers are met with vibrant colors, VIP perks, flexible payment options (e.g. AfterPay), and a visual guided navigation experience.
Expert Opinions On What Makes The Best Ecommerce Store
Tips and tricks for creating and optimizing the best ecommerce stores are always improving. Amidst all of the features you can implement, the best is expert advice. Here’s what leading ecommerce professionals have to say about achieving ecommerce greatness.
1. Make products easily discoverable.
“When building your store’s catalogue, make sure it is arranged in the way that customers actually search for your products, with the product attributes and types appearing in the metadata of the products. Check your search analytics to see what customers searches and find, and more importantly, what they don’t find, so you can fit your product building to real customers searches and navigation. Remember that the first results your shoppers see, be that in navigation or in search, highly affect their conversion rate so optimize these with best of breed merchandising apps.”
– Zohar Gilad (CEO & Co-Founder, InstantSearch+)
2. Achieve the best ecommerce store with headless commerce.
“Create a user experience that is modeled entirely around the goals of your business. Consumers are starting to expect a more tailored experience that puts great content at the forefront; the flexibility of headless commerce allows brands to deliver a customized user experience (UX) while still offering all the components of a traditional backend.”
– Michelle Rooker (Content Specialist, 5874)
Creating the best ecommerce store takes more than out-of-box functionality.
Business owners need to think about everything from easy site navigation to excellent design to great customer support.
No matter how many features you include in your online store, the drive and mission behind your strategy should always be to optimize user experience.
What functionalities do your customers value most? Include those.
With a headless commerce solution, like BigCommerce, you can provide your customers with the flexibility and content they deserve and expect. This is fundamental to your ecommerce store success.
Craving more inspiration? Check out these beautifully designed, successful online stores.