This year, if your goal is to build an eCommerce store that serves your customer and your bottom line, you need to prioritize two things: user experience (UX) and responsive design. Undoubtedly, these are the two biggest web design trends at large, but they’re also particularly important for the eCommerce retailer. Customers now demand even more from their online experience than they do from shopping in-store, and a solid UX is no longer negotiable for the savvy consumer.
Last year it was all about mobile optimization, and now, it’s about how to make the mobile experience richer. The smartest eCommerce businesses are focused on making the checkout process painless and simple — mobile checkout and accepting a wide range of currencies and payment options, for example — while also prioritizing the ease of search and identification through shoppable social media and reverse-product search. But eCommerce trends vary by their industry — each has its own set of challenges, after all — so let’s take a look at some specific examples.
Food and Beverage
- Mobile Checkout — According to Absolunet, 10 percent of U.S. Starbucks orders were placed with the company’s mobile app last year, and over 750,000 people downloaded Chipotle’s ordering app a week into its release. With new technologies like fingerprint and facial recognition becoming ever-present, more and more restaurants will begin adopting mobile payment options. Magento was the first to bring one-click checkout to the global market (a key seller for the mobile shopper), so it’s a good platform for those focused on simplifying checkout in any industry.
- Voice Ordering — As you might remember, Domino’s made pretty big waves in 2016 when it unveiled a brand-new voice-operated ordering capability through Amazon Echo. More than eight million people own a voice-activated digital assistant today, and food and beverage companies are quickly jumping on the bandwagon.
- Subscription-Based Services — Amazon’s “Subscribe and Save” feature has sparked a whole new expectation for shoppers who use the web to stock up on perishables. They now expect to have the option to have products automatically delivered to them at various intervals. You can use various Magento extensions to add this feature to your store.
Fashion and Apparel
- Omnichannel Shopping — Brace yourself: 2018 is quickly emerging as the year of omnichannel, especially when it comes to fashion-focused brick-and-click businesses. This simply refers to the ability for retailers to sell both online and in-store through various channels, not just your website. Why is this important? The data shows that 65 percent of consumers research online and buy offline (ROBO). Magento’s omnichannel solutions are pretty impressive, with built-in, responsive Magento Commerce themes.
- Endless Payment Options — As we mentioned before, retailers are quickly adopting the anything-goes mentality when it comes to how customers pay. Whether it be through PayPal, Apple Pay, cryptocurrency or plain-old credit cards, merchants realize that there need to be very few — ideally zero — hang-ups between “add to cart” and “checkout.” Nothing triggers an abandoned cart faster than a store not offering a shopper’s preferred payment option.
- Events and Experiences Pages — One of the most interesting things to come from last year’s consumer data is the idea that shoppers desire experiences, not just things. It triggered Airbnb to build out a whole new division (called, appropriately, “Experiences”) last year, and the company just announced that it would be investing $5 million into the feature this year. Retailers are promoting in-store gatherings and events on their website and social media pages as a way to revitalize the shopping “experience.”
- Real-Life Models — Another major trend in apparel-based eCommerce is the rise of real-life models and simulated fitting options. For example, Everlane added a feature displaying models of various sizes wearing their goods, and Levi’s unveiled True Fit, a feature that helps shoppers get the perfect jeans for their height, weight and style preference. The goal is to simulate the in-store shopping experience and to minimize returns caused by fit issues.
- Augmented Reality — There are a number of industries rapidly adopting AR at the moment, but perhaps the most practical use of the technology is in the furniture and home décor sector. The biggest retailers, including Amazon and Ikea, have already debuted tools that let users visualize certain pieces in their homes. With this technology, it’s also possible to render paint colors, rugs and even kitchen appliances in a real-life environment.
- More Delivery Options — Magento includes some great built-in tools to help you create a seamless and strategic delivery and fulfillment strategy. This even applies to eCommerce businesses of household goods and furniture, which were once limited to costly, slow shipping — a factor that has historically driven shoppers back to the physical store. Now, the industry’s movers and shakers are offering quick and flat-rate shipping, even on large furniture.
- Reverse Photo Shopping — Otherwise known as visual search, this technology allows shoppers to save an image — like on Pinterest, where users can get fashion or home décor inspiration but often struggle with determining where to make the purchase — and use it to search similar images within your online catalog. This is another one of those popular Magento themes that can be achieved with the right extension.
- Shoppable Instagram — There’s no denying that Instagram users turn to the social platform not only to share photos with their real-life social networks but also to shop, share and hunt for inspiration. Cosmetics brands have quickly jumped on the shoppable Instagram bandwagon, creating rich photos, videos and stories showcasing both makeup and skincare products. This feature can be paired with your Magento store for a super-streamlined, up-to-date showcase. Our shoppable Instagram extension for Magento is a must-have if you want to adopt this trend this year.
- Embracing All Skin Tones — As a whole, brands are touting their inclusiveness and diversity factor a whole lot more than they were in previous years. For online cosmetics companies, this comes to light on the product page. Many makeup brands now showcase their products on several different skin tones right alongside photos of the product and packaging.
- Recurring Shipments — While studies show that only 16 percent of consumers opt for recurring shipments (also called “monthly replenishment” programs) in the cosmetic realm, brands are starting to implement this feature into their online stores. The auto-delivery option is particularly popular among retailers offering perishables and personal care and beauty items, especially color cosmetics, skincare, hair care and nail care products.
Business Supplies and Equipment
- A ‘Consumerized’ Experience — Just like in the B2C world, B2B retailers are prioritizing UX and responsive design. So much so that experts have cited the “consumerization” of business-to-business websites — e.g. making B2B websites look more like B2C websites — as one of the most interesting and game-changing eCommerce trends to come. They’re doing this by making users the focus of the buying experience, with more approachable Magento themes and easier checkout processes.
- End-to-End Integration — Sometimes referred to as quote-to-cash processes or cart-to-cash processes, end-to-end integration refers to the website’s ability to cater to a business-focused shopper at every step, from quoting and pricing to contracting and revenue. When it comes to eCommerce, this means businesses are allowing B2B shoppers to do all the necessary purchasing steps right from the website.
- Target Marketing — If you’ve ever scrolled through a website or social media page and noticed an ad for aftermarket car parts for your exact car, then you can bet the retailer used a third-party marketing service to target consumers with a specific type of car. How do you create a powerful, targeted marketing campaign with the help of Magento? Start with a data-driven Magento integration tool like Springbot that helps you gather useful demographics and profiles of people who interact with your site.
- Car Parts Move Online — While aftermarket auto parts have been sold online almost since the dawn of eCommerce, retailers have struggled to find ways to market car parts online. The industry is poised to grow by as much as 15 percent this year, with more and more shoppers turning to Amazon and eBay to buy parts. Like every industry, the automotive one has made the great shift to mobile, and retailers should be adopting a mobile-first mentality with their Magento stores.
- Design-Based Storytelling — The outdoor market has always thrived with the help of narrative marketing; just think back to print ads and commercials showing adventurers atop mountains and aboard racing yachts. Now, marketers are taking this narrative approach a step further with design-based storytelling, something that can be easily achieved through your Magento store and various extensions. For example, some sites integrate parallax scroll for a rich, interactive and story-based style.
- Buy It for Life — Outdoor retailer REI is perhaps the unofficial poster child for the buy it for life movement. These days, many sellers of camping equipment, patio furniture and even sports equipment are leading with quality and backing products with lengthy or lifetime warranties. How does this factor into your Magento store, you ask? Companies are integrating warranty extensions to offer additional upgrades and creating quality product pages.
- A Focus on Product Information — Some of the biggest trends in eCommerce sometimes converge. In this case, it’s the union of brand-based transparency — something that 73 percent of customers say they’d pay a premium for — and user-focused design. Putting the information at the forefront of your product pages with in-depth, detailed and accurate descriptions is particularly important for spec-focused outdoor buyers.
Overall Trends for Magento Store Themes
There are a few eCommerce web design trends that aren’t industry specific. As a whole, all online Magento stores should be adopting the following themes to ensure a positive customer experience, which will, in turn, translate into more revenue for your business.
- Mobile Responsive Design — The idea that responsive design — a layout that adapts well to any device, whether it be a smartphone or a desktop computer — should guide eCommerce stores is not new. But this year, it isn’t any less important. More and more studies emerge showing that mobile shoppers are likely to abandon your website if it’s not formatted for mobile or Google. Many of the trends listed above tie into this theme, like shoppable social media stores and mobile-friendly checkout.
- User Experience Rules — Perhaps we sound like a broken record, but there’s just no online store that couldn’t benefit from a user-first approach. Nielson wrote the guidebook, quite literally, on eCommerce user experience using a data-driven approach showing that good UX equals higher returns. So how do you make your online store in that department? It all comes down to user behavior, says Nielson. Using our Magento analytics tool, you can gather valuable data on consumer preferences, ensuring that every user experience is a positive and personalized one.
With the appropriate tools, Magento extensions and themes, you can build an eCommerce store that converts browsers into buyers and helps you build a more engaged and loyal customer base. Whether you sell handmade apparel, home goods or complex manufacturing equipment, the web has plenty of room for your online store. Just make sure it’s designed with the customer in mind for the biggest possible gains.
Want to learn how eCommerce marketing automation solutions like Springbot will help maximize the growth of your Magento store? Schedule a personalized consultation with one of our eCommerce marketing experts to get started!