Ecommerce Predictions: 13 Expert Opinions From Industry Leaders
As a marketer or ecommerce entrepreneur you’re constantly looking for inspiration to get ahead of the competition. Your ecommerce website design is a top way to stand out from the crowd, and should be a main focus for your marketing efforts. Increasingly companies are turning to design to differentiate themselves from their competition and grow.
Design-driven companies have outperformed the S&P Index by 219% over 10 years according to Adobe.
And all around us design-led companies are creating new markets and dominating existing ones.
To help you make your web design better than the competition we asked 13 experts from top industry brands such as SearchSpring, Bigcommerce and more to share their predictions for the future.
We asked them:
What are the best ecommerce website designs going to look like 12 months from now?
Here’s what they said..
We work with retailers across multiple verticals including: apparel, footwear, home décor, automotive and B2B. While their businesses are very different, there is a common thread among all brands which is a laser focus on the customer experience. Customers have less time and expect to be able to find products quickly, across any device and in a personalized fashion. We see site search, faceted navigation and personalization being key features in retailer’s strategic tool belt. With regards to the front-end experience and design, we see brands moving toward more visual, personalized and a hybrid blend of voice and touch across desktop, mobile, in-store and call center touchpoints.
The best ecommerce design is going to look different for every online business. Because every audience is different. For this to happen, the people behind ecommerce businesses are going to become comfortable with cheap behavioral data.
Right now, the managers that run a business are sheltered from the decisions made by designers and developers. Whether in-house or agency, these professionals are hired to use their expertise to deliver an online experience that visitors need. They collect the data to answer the questions that design requires, from wording to layout. However, these professionals are not good at asking the right questions.
Only the business can do that.
While designers agonize over where they can apply parallax animations, businesses are asking questions about increasing sales. Pricing, guarantees, return policies, voice of the brand, social proof, and credibility can all be tested. These are the vital components of conversion optimization that never get tested.
We can now test all of these components without leaving our desks for a couple of dollars per test subject.
In 12 months, ecommerce redesigns will have underperformed one-too-many times, and business managers will be asking for the data that supports the decisions made in the process. And they’ll get it. They will ask the right questions and the designs will reflect the data that answered those questions.
You will be able to tell these ecommerce sites from the others: they will have the lowest cost of acquisition. In ecommerce, that’s a big, big lever.
And they won’t have parallax animations.
1. As people get more comfortable shopping online, it’s very important for products to jump off the page. Large, sharp images that showcase the small details of a product — with several variations —will continue to be a big design trend in 2017.
2. Personalized shopping experiences. Everyone is bombarded by generic messages, but you can make your brand stand out by customizing your on-page content to match the behaviors and preferences of each individual user. Segment your audience and show them complementary products throughout your website — they’ll appreciate it!
As a result of mobile domination when it comes to online shopping, we are predicting sites will lean towards a more vertical orientation. Many current sites are designed with a horizontal vision in mind to take advantage of widescreen laptops and desktop screens. However, with mobile e-commerce ever increasing, it seems likely that store designs are will become more vertically lead, using portrait imagery and mobile friendly menus.
Alongside that, we are expecting an increase in the use of product video, taking priority over product photography, as it becomes cheaper to produce and loading speeds get better. Facebook is a huge indicator of this as almost everything shared is now video.
Coming to the forefront, outside of design, but helping to push conversions will be services that provide a ‘buy now pay later’ model. Credit services like Klarna Credit are already being implemented by large brands such as Topshop, which is always a good sign of what’s to come. Quick payment services like Apple Pay will become more and more of an essential as customers start demanding them.
Lastly, subscription services will continue to grow as brands who aren’t currently doing it start to realise the benefits it has for both merchants (predictable revenue, loyalty, customer insights) and consumers (convenience, innovative products).
Ecommerce is going to continue to look more and more personalized. I’m noticing a surge of SaaS companies creating personalized pop-ups, opt-in software for ecommerce sites.
The same power that bloggers use to easily add exit intent or scroll mat is coming to ecommerce product pages everywhere.
This could impact the overall design experience intended by the original designer, but I expect this trend to grow with ecommerce websites.
It’s not a trend, technology or a design element that I see as a top priority in 2017, it’s the site owners’ ability to reduce the noise from traditional desktop views and simplify messaging, calls to action and design elements within a limited mobile canvas, to achieve a higher converting mobile experience.
Less is more on mobile.
This is especially true of website footer design, which was historically governed by SEO and now plays a more funcational and informative role.
This awareness will differentiate the winners from the losers in the next 12 months as mobile traffic continues to grow.
I think the biggest thing we are going to see this year is the Desktop-ization of Mobile. It has taken some time for Mobile navigation to evolve to the point it is just half as good as desktop navigation. This year, we expect to see mobile design to improve to the point Mobile menus and filters are easy use and not hidden from the user’s perspective.
I think more brands and retailers will start to take a closer look at Amazon’s successes with converting shoppers on their product detail pages, both on mobile and desktop. Amazon has historically had much higher conversion rates than traditional ecommerce sites – quoted as high as 8-12% in some cases – compared to the industry norm of around 3%. I think they’ve seen high CR’s through a couple factors: stored payment info, investments in on-page, branded content like A+ Content and Enhanced Brand Content, and prominently-displayed reviews. While these extend beyond just mere page structure and design, I think we’ll see more ecommerce sites try to replicate these aspects and:
1) Feature payment processors like Apple Pay and Amazon Payments as a nod to the many consumers who use them for convenience
2) Start to invest in rich HTML and video content to visually explain product features and unique selling points
3) Put more of a premium on aggregating product reviews and giving them greater real estate on product pages
I’d like to believe that in a year’s time we’ll see an untemplating of ecommerce design.
As marketers, developers, designers don’t simply perform a/b tests, they learn from them and evolve their site from the knowledge gained.
Through customer insight the website becomes uniquely tailored to their audience.
Whether that be product presentation, copy, the checkout process or navigation.
You shift away from the pursuit of best practice guidance and start learning what really works for your own audience.
The next big shift in web design won’t be another “flat” or skeuomorphic style guide — it will be dynamic pixels. Visitor A will see something different than Visitor B based on where they’re located, what time of day it is, their IP address, and more.
While ecommerce continues to pulverize brick & mortar in respect to margins, it lacks the sales intelligence of in-store reps who can ascertain a prospect’s purchase intent and potential interests. If design is huddled around solving problems, today it merely helps consumers understand products. The next big problem to solve will be helping products understand their consumers.
I’m hoping we see a shift in mindset from ecommerce brands to focus less on selling at all times, and more on helping potential customers consider their purchases.
We’re seeing the emergence of some really valuable sizing guides within the apparel industry (Victoria’s Secret, Bonlook and Michael Hill have developed outstanding virtual try-on experiences) but more online retailers will start to realise that some shoppers can’t be forced into buying without satisfying their research needs.
Smart online retailers will see sustainable success by bridging the gap between research and purchase with content experiences designed to:
– establish trust
– reduce uncertainty
– prove authority
– communicate value
REI, Huckberry and Mr Porter are three brands creating beautifully designed ‘consideration content experiences’ which act as a research hub for potential customers who need more info before they feel confident enough to buy. These brands are able to position themselves as both expert and trustworthy personal adviser – which fosters the kind of loyalty required to pump up those all-important lifetime customer value figures.
Careful design allows these brands to integrate product-related content in the context of helpful and valuable information. That’s a skill we ecommerce folk need to master to sustainably improve our conversion rates (and help our potential customers) without spending bucketloads of time and cash on paid and earned channels.
A few points that I believe we will see in the future:
– Interactive, more interesting and higher quality websites (not focused on the amount of info but the quality)
– Different content for mobile and desktop
– More personalisation (a customer A might see different content than customer B)
– New designs and fonts
For innovative products, the traditional product detail page doesn’t provide enough real estate or design flexibility for adequate storytelling or branding. First to market products often require education and benefit greatly from highlighting the thought process and attention to detail behind its development.
While the homepage is a great place to deliver high level benefits, it’s not the best place to showcase the details – the USPs, materials, and/or features – that make the product what it is. What we advocate and start to see more of is the deconstruction of the complex product detail page into a product overview page and an order page. The former gives space for a branded product overview with no shopping functions, solely meant to educate and inspire. While the latter, the order page, becomes optimized for conversion with minimal distraction.
For more ideas check out this infographic by Whatsthehost.com.
Ecommerce Website Design Prediction
Now you’ve heard from the experts, what do you think? Write your prediction for what the best ecommerce web page design will look like in the future in the comments below.