Sites like eBay and Amazon have been a part of our collective online experiences for over 15 years now, and the value of good ecommerce web design has never been higher. Estimates suggest that around 7 out of 10 internet users partake in some kind of online purchasing activity, so any design agency needs to do a bit more than just design a pretty website if it wants to ensure the best possible user experience. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the new directions that ecommerce is heading in.
The first big change has been the evolution of web 2.0 technologies, which has spawned a concurrent move toward ‘ecommerce 2.0’, centred around the needs of the consumer. Content can now be delivered much more easily, meaning that customers can view multiple high-resolution images or even video of products to make sure they know what they are getting. Innovative web application development – for example the virtual fitting rooms now found on many clothes retailer sites – can enhance the experience more, building customer confidence and driving sales.
The second, and many experts predict the biggest, shift in how people shop is the community side of ecommerce web design, or so-called ‘social shopping’. A 2011 poll suggested that over 70% of consumers would make an online purchase on the strength of a recommendation from another customer (rising to 90% if the recommendation came directly from a friend). Compare this to a paltry 14% of people saying that they trusted traditional advertising and the power of the online equivalent of word of mouth is clear. A good branding agency needs to focus on aspects like customer reviews, the ability to easily share products, and above all presenting a business that is open to feedback from its users on any topic. These days people can compare prices and products at the click of a Google search button, so a good foundation of satisfied customers might add that valuable edge over the competition.
The final big development has been the rise of the smartphone, and with it the popularisation of easy downloads, one click ordering and other simple ways to purchase online. Apple in particular have made it the norm for people to buy songs, apps or games at the click of a button, and new, innovative ways to utilise smartphones to browse, shop, and then share the experiences may be another way for businesses to capitalise. Once again, the onus is on the design agency to embrace the developments in all areas of ecommerce web design and create the optimum user experience. Web application development – for example including features like real time order tracking or stock levels – can only help to improve this, and if the social side can be harnessed effectively as well, businesses could see their online success rocket.
One final caveat comes from super-successful online wholesaler company SooBest, who warn that the biggest thing holding any successful e-tailer back is a failure to fully embrace the potential of online selling. No longer are your customers just those people that you can reach directly, but, thanks in particular to the power of social media, all businesses should potentially see themselves as global. The challenge for any branding agency is to match this ambition, providing a platform to maximise the ecommerce user experience and the social shopping dimension. If a design agency can do this, the sky’s the limit.