best in eCommerce sites across the web. It didnt matter how big or small these sites were, only that they were well-executed, visually appealing, and made usability a high priority. So what about these sites makes them the favorites of the eCommerce community? Below we show you what they re doing right, along with unfortunate mistakes that can send an otherwise good eCommerce site to the back of the pack.
Do Keep It Simple
Apple was by far the most popular suggestion for a well-executed eCommerce site, and itâ€™s not hard to see why. Appleâ€™s minimalist design sensibility lends itself to a clean, intuitive shopping experience that starts from the homepage and extends all the way through the final steps of checkout. Customizing any product in the store is a straightforward, step-by-step process, guiding customers through the purchase with minimal distraction. In short, Apple concentrates on keeping the shopping process simple and uncluttered, making it easy for customers to find, customize and purchase products.
Abercrombie was also noted for its clean design and browsing simplicity. Products are browsed from side to side instead of up and down, keeping them above the fold. This simplicity carries into the checkout process, where all unnecessary elements of the page are taken away, guiding the customer through the purchase.
Do Give Customers Browsing Options
Customers can grow frustrated when theyâ€™re forced to find that perfect product by clicking through endless catalog pages. Sites that banish this inefficient practice using filtering systems and effective site search keep customers coming back for more, and quite a few were identified as favorites in our survey.
Endless.com helps customers browse their huge inventory of shoes and handbags with an intuitive, ultra-detailed layered navigation system. Customers can filter by category, brand, â€œcolor family, size, width, heel height, and price, quickly finding a pair of shoes for that new outfit.
Etsy, an online marketplace for independent artists, offers customers a variety of ways to find what theyâ€™re looking for in the siteâ€™s huge inventory of creative works. Customers can filter by color, customer picks, showcased artists, location where the product was made, just-listed products or products that customers with similar taste have purchased in the past. All of this is done using fun flash tools that engage the customer in the shopping process while helping them find what they need.
Do Feature Innovative Ways to Shop
Sometimes a certain kind of product requires a new way to shop online. Some of the sites our readers chose created better ways to for customers to shop for their product, improving the overall customer experience. Prickies, a button store, takes intuitive shopping to another level, enabling customers to drag and drop products into their always-visible shopping cart. Not only that, the cart instantly applies discounts when a certain number of items are added, creating visible incentives for customers to keep shopping. Customers can continually check the items in their cart, and switch them out if they spot a more appealing button.
Prickies identified what their customers wanted from an online button store, and the site delivers. The experience is almost identical to digging through a bucket of buttons at a local record store.
Surf Ride takes a similar approach to innovative shopping, providing flash-based skateboard and wakeboard â€œbuilders.â€ Customers are guided through the process of choosing the elements needed to built a complete board, giving customers a fun, individualized experience and creating an opportunity for the store to increase conversions.
Do Keep the Checkout Process Straightforward
Itâ€™s well-known that terrible usability in a storeâ€™s checkout process can cause customers to abandon a cart in droves and shop elsewhere. Take a look at some of the following sites, whose checkout process was a big reason why they were cited as our readersâ€™ favorites.
Busted Tees, a t-shirt site, features a one-page checkout, only requiring customers to enter the information necessary for the purchase and doing it all on one page. Since everything needed for the purchase is immediately available, customers have less time to reconsider the purchase or leave because of frustrating load times, errors, etc.
Ikea begins the checkout process by showing customers how many steps are involved in the checkout from beginning to end, addressing a potential customer frustration before it has the chance to be a problem. From there, Ikea guides the customer through checkout with minimal distraction, keeping the process clear and straightforward at all times.
Donâ€™t Spread a Single Productâ€™s Sizes/Colors/Options Over Several Catalog Pages
It may be easier for the Store Owner to list a productâ€™s options as completely separate products (with separate product pages), but for the customer, this catalog structure results in a shopping nightmare. Godivaâ€™s site, for example, spreads variations of a product out over text links at the bottom of each catalog page. Itâ€™s certainly not ideal for browsing, and, to the average customer, itâ€™s far too much text for them to waste any more time.
Threadless, conversely, allows you to select your shirt design, and then select simultaneously both the shirt type and its size, keeping a customerâ€™s options straightforward and clear.
Donâ€™t Provide Inaccurate In-Store Search
A customer shouldnâ€™t be able to search your store for â€œmopâ€ and get an mp3 player, a sheet set and a wrench. If no results are found for a product in your storeâ€™s search, inexact results should at least be labeled with a message such as, â€œWe couldnâ€™t find a product match for â€˜mop.â€™ Maybe these results can help you.â€ Customers then know why theyâ€™re being given inaccurate matches, and can adjust their search accordingly.
Amazonâ€™s search not only alerts the customer that no products match the misspelled search term, they auto-correct the results, displaying products that match the correctly spelled search term.
Donâ€™t Bury Your Storeâ€™s Contact Info
No matter how perfect your eCommerce site is, customers will inevitably encounter problems or have questions. In many of these cases, theyâ€™ll search for the siteâ€™s â€œContact Usâ€ to find the answers and the help they need. Some stores, however, attempt to bury their contact information, seemingly in an attempt to avoid those â€œtime-wastingâ€ customers. Contact information should be clearly labeled and accessible from anywhere in your store, allowing frustrated customers to get answers as quickly as possible.
NewEggâ€™s customer service tab is the first thing a potential customer sees when they visit the site, making it apparent that NewEgg is always available to its customers.
Donâ€™t Let Marketing Overcome Useability
Retailers must always keep in mind the balance between marketing efforts and site usability. Posting banners or including extra steps in a store’s checkout can frustrate customers, causing them to abandon their cart and your store. Remember this balance for actions such as requiring your customers to register before making a purchase. If you see a trend of cart abandonment at the registration point in your store’s checkout, you might consider opting for a high-end solution that allows guest checkout or has customers register at the end of the checkout process.
Panic.comâ€™s one page checkout bundles registration and checkout together, adding quick username and password entry to an already efficient checkout process.
Here are even more eCommerce sites that our readers found exceptional. Browse through them for inspiration,
Crate and Barrel