Amongst the Econsultancy blog team, we’ve been choosing some of our favourite ecommerce sites.
Some have been picked because they offer an excellent all-round experience. Not all are perfect, but were chosen for specific aspects which others can copy/learn from.
If you’d like to learn more about ecommerce, take a look at our Ecommerce Best Practice Guide.
AO, previously Appliances Online, is a great site to head for if you want to see examples of best practice. It is also refreshingly honest with the customer, talking about its efforts to save the environment and posting its Trustpilot rating front and centre on its ‘about us’ page.
Why is the site good? There are many reasons, and the product pages are just one example.
There’s great use of social proof with star-rated reviews from past purchasers. Furthermore, all the detailed information customers need to decide on big ticket purchases is there, including a 3-minute ‘review video’ and crisp photography of the appliance from all angles. We particularly like the sticky product header, reminding customers which product they’re looking at whilst reading specifications (useful for product comparison).
We’ve talked about Asos a lot on this blog, purely because it offers a great example of ecommerce best practice (as well as social, customer service and more). Its tone of voice is on point across all marketing channels, giving greater consistency and strength to its branding.
When your saved item comes back into stock… pic.twitter.com/lR96nzhV2Z
— ASOS (@ASOS) August 11, 2019
The app is particularly worth a mention, offering personalised push notifications and fashion ‘edits’ based on your purchase and browsing history.
Treatwell makes our list for more reasons than just sheer convenience. Gone are the days of Googling salons or calling to book appointments (so 2010)… now you can find them all in one place.
The website and the app have very similar functionality, with a brightly coloured categorised search menu so customers can instantly start browsing for their preferred beauty treatments. One aspect of the app that Econsultancy designer Lizzy Hillier likes is that you’re greeted with a dashboard of upcoming bookings and favourite venues.
Upon browsing for treatments, the site and app will search nearby salons based on your current location (on mobile devices) and allows you to filter by features such as price and customer rating.
If you’ve never had a particular treatment before, or are new to a salon, customers can simply tap on the ‘details’ icon below each entry to find out more information. Checkout is also a breeze, with many locations offering payment via PayPal, Google Pay and ‘pay at venue’ once you’ve chosen your date and time.
Overall, Treatwell offers an incredibly slick customer journey from beginning to end.
Cycling brand Rapha has a particularly engaging website for more reasons than one.
Product details pages begin with an artistic full-screen shot of the product in action, accompanied by a sticky header detailing the price and a convenient ‘add to basket’ button.
Scrolling down the page, customers are greeted with a comprehensive range of additional product images which are often cropped to show the most important practical aspects of the item.
A valuable feature is the Q&A section, which comes in addition to the standard customer reviews for each product and provides a point of reference for those with questions not covered by the product description.
Finally, hidden under ‘Stories’ in the main navigation, is an immersive editorial section with a carefully curated selection of articles paired with stunning photography.
In her article earlier this year, Nikki Gilliland delved deep into her favourite ecommerce features of this particular fast-fashion retailer. There are too many to list here, so we’ve picked some of Nikki’s most interesting comments and insights about the brand’s website below:
“Cheap prices and constantly refreshed stock means that loyal customers always have a reason to come back.
“The dedicated ‘New In’ category on the homepage, along with a ‘New In Today’ sub-section, tells shoppers that they’re a couple of clicks away from getting their hands on fresh stock – every day if they want it.”
“One things that Boohoo does well is delivery, but more specifically, in the amount of choice it offers shoppers. From standard delivery to various collection services, it provides a variety of options to choose from.”
Eager to shake the scrutiny that fast-fashion has received in recent times, Boohoo has also introduced a new line of clothing labelled ‘For the Future’, which includes clothing made from recycled materials.
Here’s a great example of personalisation from Lacoste. Using the ‘customise’ button on the main menu, users get the opportunity to customise their very own classic Lacoste polo shirt.
Customers can be as choosey as they wish, with options ranging from a variety of shirt and collar colours to a selection of 47 crocodile motifs. You can even add your own monogram to the sleeve. After all, you will be paying £120 for the privilege.
The simple step-by-step process is enhanced by precise, large-scale photography, and it’s really exciting to see your creation take shape.
B&Q does a lot well online. Its category pages, such as this one for wooden sheds, are worth mentioning:
It’s a very useful page, with excellent filtering options that allow shoppers to narrow the selection and choose according to the features that are important to them – size, price, ease of assembly, and so on. There’s even a short questionnaire for those who are unsure where to start, which when completed will recommend products based on your answers.
With such a wide range of products and SKUs, B&Q’s mega-menus and faceted navigation are perfectly done.
If you want to pay £100 for wellies, this is the place to go. Nice clean product pages, smooth checkout, and good use of colour contrast for calls to action. The sophisticated and descriptive product copy reinforces its positioning as a heritage brand.
Seasonal spotlights like the ‘festival edit’ compile shortlists of boots and apparel to keep the product offering relevant all year round.
Schuh’s product pages are a fantastic example of how to use images in ecommerce, with great presentation and a wide range of angles (including a 360-degree looping video).
It isn’t just imagery though – Schuh gets a lot right, such as click and collect within one hour, a range of delivery options and easy returns. Like Asos, it also offers delayed payment with Klarna, allowing time to try on without any initial financial commitment to buy.
The proactive use of live chat is particularly noticeable. Not only is there a ‘live help’ CTA on the site header, but a pop up appears after a short length of browsing on desktop directing you to an advisor if you need one.
Aesop reinforces its status as a luxury skincare brand by keeping its ecommerce site clean and sophisticated. With muted, natural colours and minimalist layout from the outset, it reflects the use of simple ingredients and the understated presentation of its products.
Customers can explore category pages with ease (see ‘hair’ shown below), as products are divided into sub-categories (e.g. ‘cleanse’, ‘condition’) which can be easily browsed via horizontal scrolling.
Product pages are equally as sparse, with images revealing the texture and colour of the interior product as well as the appearance of its exterior packaging.
All ingredients are listed within a separate pop up window for ultimate transparency without cluttering up important areas of the product listings page like the main product description.
One of the best features on Ocado’s website is the inclusion of reviews on its products, which is quite unusual for online grocery stores in the UK. This social proof can be useful in helping browsing customers choose between similar products (i.e. branded vs. own-brand) based on the opinions of past consumers.
The brand offers a little extra than just great merchandising (and therefore easy navigation). Take a look at the recipe tab, for example, which displays dishes according to the current season, specific dietary requirements and much more.
Upon selecting a recipe the ingredients appear above the fold enabling customers to transfer items into their basket hassle-free.
And the best thing of all? You can add food donation vouchers to your basket and Ocado will donate groceries worth double the value to their charity food partners on your behalf.
12. Bloom & Wild
Nominated by Lizzy Hillier, online florist Bloom and Wild offer a wide variety of bouquets to suit a range of budgets, including ‘letterbox flowers’ which – you guessed it – fit through the receivers letterbox on delivery. This avoids common issues, such as the sender keeping their fingers crossed that the recipient will be at home on a meaningful day (when most likely they will be out celebrating).
If product innovation alone isn’t reason enough to take a look, its customer-centric design and navigation certainly will. Its mobile site allows users to scroll through all available letterbox bouquets without leaving the landing page and includes handy options to upgrade (e.g. adding roses) before you even select a product to send.
Once you’ve chosen your flowers, it’s just a couple of simple steps to checkout, made easier by an auto-predict address book and the choice to add a short message.
Whimsical and artistic photography take centre stage on the Free People website, arranged in a scrapbook-style layout. It feels very authentic and pretty retro, harking back to its 70s roots.
We particularly like the placement of the ‘also bought with’ column on the right hand side, as well as the quirky ‘like’ button which counts the number of registered users who have added the item to their wishlists.
This site is a lot of fun, offering novelty gifts for pop-culture junkies. We’ve chosen it for its excellent product pages and enjoyable, light-hearted copy.
The ‘Top 50’ page is a clear and easy way to browse best-selling products if you’re in a rush.
One of Nikki Gilliland’s top picks is awaytravel.com, and in particular its quick and easy personalisation interface.
Although the full functionality only appears to be available on the desktop version of the site, it was a lot of fun personalising a bag’s size, colour and additional features like alphabet stickers.
Once you’ve settled on a design, you can add the whole bag, plus extras, to your cart in one fell swoop, rather than faffing about adding them separately (although they appear individually in the cart).
Alternatively, you can use the conveniently-placed social buttons on the product page to get a second opinion from your friends and followers.
This next brand, Teepublic, comes highly recommended by our very own Deputy Editor, Rebecca Sentance.
It’s not a complex website on the face of it, which comes as an advantage considering the sheer amount of customisation possibilities available to the user. Teepublic keeps it as simple as possible by displaying large product images first and foremost; essential in order to see the selected design clearly.
Easily choose from dozens of base colours via their tiled colour-picker to really make it your own. There are even handy ‘tee tips’ based on feedback and orders from past customers to ensure you get the best fit for your body type.
Otherwise, customers can browse the plethora of other recommended products with the same design.
These features may not be all that new to ecommerce, but Teepublic proves that simplicity is often the best way to achieve excellent UX.
Next, Econsultancy social media manager Sean Cole has nominated events and gigs brand, Dice.
While it’s possible to book using their desktop site, you’ll get the best experience on mobile. Unlike other brands, you can sync your music library from the Spotify or Apple Music apps with the Dice app, which will then display upcoming gigs for your most listened-to bands. What a fantastic way to personalise the browsing process and, as the app states, a sure-fire way to ‘never miss your favourite artists’.
The ‘discover’ window includes a personalised horizontal search function which displays new shows in your area based on factors such as your location, past bookings and music library. The UX is very similar to Spotify’s, providing an experience that users are already familiar with.
‘Stories’ are a particularly nice take on the popular element of social media, offering a platform for artists to connect directly with users straight through the app.
18. Today Tix
Today Tix is a platform to find and purchase discount and last-minute tickets for some of the best West End shows. Its app is especially polished, with a scrollable layout and a considered placement of essential information on its pages.
If you change your mind during the booking process, it’s super easy to change the date, time and number of tickets all from the seat selection page, without needing to start again.
The use of gamification is also worth noting. As well as limited-time ‘rush tickets’ for bestselling shows, logged in users can participate in weekly lotteries to bag bargain tickets for some of the best seats in the house. If they miss it, it takes simply one click to set an alert for next time.
19. Nescafé Dolce Gusto
A great instance of faceted navigation done properly comes from Nescafé’s Dolce Gusto website, recommended by Rebecca Sentance. Customers can whittle down results via categories such as cup size, beverage family and coffee intensity, enabling them to discover new drinks according to their taste preferences.
It’s easy for brands to go overboard with filter options – particularly when they have a large product offering – but Nescafé have kept it fairly minimal to avoid overwhelming users with too much choice.
Clicking through to the products themselves, the brand has included a couple of useful, yet unobtrusive, infographics displaying the size and overall intensity of the drink. Recommendations for products with similar qualities are shown on the right hand side for further browsing.
If you ever need anything professionally printed, but without the hassle of overcomplicated UX, Printed.com is the place to go. With virtually unending customisation choices, you can create the documents, flyers, invites and business cards of your dreams. Take the below landing page, for example:
Once you’ve started building your cards, a really helpful product summary appears on the right hand side indicating your selections so far, and allowing you to quickly edit these if you change your mind. At the end of this process, the site will automatically calculate the total price of your products based on your choices before you’ve even uploaded a design (meaning no nasty surprises at checkout).
A ‘drag and drop’ interface enables customers to easily place and edit their design until they are happy with the final preview. Then it’s just a few clicks to smoothly checkout.
The product details and listings pages on this site are excellent and go the extra mile to describe and demonstrate the products. Our only gripe is (admittedly excellent) auto-playing video (although sound is muted by default, a welcome feature for mobile ecommerce).
Take this image for example, a clear and stylish way to show what fits in one of the brand’s sling bags:
There’s some great navigation too. When shopping by product category, a drop-down submenu appears with a neat row of photographic examples to help point you in the right direction.
Which ecommerce sites or apps have impressed you, and why? Let us know below…