Itâs not enough for online retailers to sell unique products or offer low prices; the increasingly competitive e-commerce environment makes it essential for merchants to stand out by delivering a well-rounded customer experience. The ultimate experience rolls up multiple key design elements into a website thatâs a visual treat, as well as a highly functional destination.
The merchants highlighted in the 2019 Hot 100âs design category have upgraded their website experiences using technological tools, along with new design approaches. Those features are essential. Shoppers expect elements such as site search to serve up products with precision based on their search terms. They also want detailed backstories that show how the retailer and its products match the shopperâs lifestyle and sentiments.
Key function: Steer the shopper
One of the most important functions is steering the shopper to the right product with minimal friction. For example, when France-based sporting goods retailer Decathlon.com launched its first U.S. website in late 2017, it included a machine-learning site-search algorithm from Adeptmind, an artificial intelligence search technology vendor. The technology enables the retailer to feed products into the search engine and the engine learns based on what shoppers look for, click on and purchase.
Enriching the shopper experience was behind eco-friendly Tarte Cosmeticsâ website redesign late last year and the upgrades drove double-digit growth in online sales this year. The merchant added social content and, for mobile shoppers, increased the size of product images.
Video tutorials are now shoppable, and Tarte.com has more guided-selling tools like a makeup foundation quiz that snared seized shopperâs attention.
Connecting materially and socially is also an important part of Sweetwater Soundâs mission and that means regularly adding features and tools to serve its musician shoppers online. A recent example is New Gear Day, which encourages shoppers to visit the website and share their joy of music via social media. The channel is designed to prompt communications about the latest in musical instruments and technology by inviting customers to share images and descriptions of their newest gear.
As these and other web merchants spotlighted in this category will show, there are many ways to enhance the shopperâs experience and a great experience means they will buyâand come back for more.
Jerry Hum, co-founder and CEO of Touch of Modern is a lifelong craftsman. As a result, he appreciates designers of all types and that helps form TouchofModern.com.
âWhen someone makes a product thatâs not like anything people have ever seen before, the most difficult part of that is often finding the market for that product. Traditional retailers are slow to adopt new product. We can move a lot faster with our model and weâve built a place where people come every day to discover that which is new, unusual and exciting.â
Touch of Modern built its website on unique and stylish products presented with sleek images and crisp videos. The members-only site targets young trendy males with innovative products ranging from levitating mini-college football helmets to organic bamboo bedding to portable power sources for jump-starting dead car batteries.
New and unique products often come from small product designers and manufacturers and that fits the Touch of Modern model, Hum says. âItâs a lot easier nowadays to manufacture a product than it was a few years ago and while thatâs great for innovators, it also creates a lot of noise. A place like Touch of Modern is necessary to help the most noteworthy products and their creators cut through the noise and reach their intended audiences.â
Among recent design changes, Touch of Modern revamped its mobile app. âThe biggest difference is in navigation,â Hum says. âWe added a bottom tab bar and did away with the hamburger-style (collapsed menu) navigation that our app previously relied on. Previously, anything in the old hamburger navigation barely got used.â
Touch of Modern puts its mobile payment buttons close to the bottom of the screen where they are easily accessible to a consumer holding a phone in one hand.
The retailer also detects the device the shopper is using and only shows relevant payment methods. For example, it will hide Apple Pay if the shopper is using a Samsung phone that would not support the Apple payment service.
The web-only retailer resonates with its customers. 2017 online sales reached $142.7 million, according to Internet Retailer estimates, up 23% from 2016.
No doubt about it, $300 to $600 is a lot to pay for a coffee maker. But Spinn Coffee uses full-screen video and high-quality photos to make the case its machines are worth the money.
The website shows how Spinnâs Wi-Fi-connected and app-controlled coffee maker starts with unground coffee beans and deliversâwith a few clicks on its mobile appâjust the amount of java the user wants.
The coffee makers can be paired with a $5-per-month subscription coffee service, which allows customers to choose a local roaster and put their coffee orders on autopilot.
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