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6 of the Best eCommerce Websites and What Grocers Can Learn From Them

There's no doubt about it: it’s a pretty exciting time to be a retailer. The growth of online shopping has created unprecedented opportunities to win new customers and grow market share. We all want to take advantage of these opportunities, but building a great eCommerce website can be challenging—especially when you don’t know where to start.

As with anything, it’s always good to learn and take inspiration from others. That's why we’ve identified six of what we think are the best eCommerce websites out there. Why are they among the best? The answer is simple: they each achieve what we consider eCommerce excellence in at least one of the following three key areas:

  1. They assist their shoppers in finding the products they want
  2. They showcase those products in interesting and innovative ways
  3. They effectively lead shoppers through to checkout (and payment)

Step 1: Finding Products

Do you know the biggest reason why shoppers don’t purchase from a website? It’s not price, or poor customer service, or even the buyer’s lack of intent. The biggest reason eCommerce websites fail is because shoppers can’t find what they’re looking for.

So, when a shopper knows exactly what he or she wants, a retailer’s success lies in helping them find that product in the fewest steps possible.

Two sure-fire ways to do this are with quick-view options, and personalized product suggestions—features that retail giants Williams Sonoma and Crocs both leverage on their eCommerce websites.

1. WilliamsSonoma.com: Ability to Quick View

A quick view feature enhances the user experience by providing more detailed product information without taking the shopper to a new page. Although it doesn’t guarantee a better conversion rate, it does save the shopper time.

Quick view helps the shopper determine if the product meets his or her needs, and whether it’s worth clicking through to the individual product page to investigate further. The quick-view button can either be always visible, or displayed only when a shopper hovers over a product.

A quick view screen from the Williams-Sonoma website, which provides fast product details.

2. Crocs.com: Personalized Product Suggestions

You need to take good care of the customer you have right now. The shopper who’s on your site will stay, pay, and come back, as long as they feel understood and welcome. In other words, they’re looking for a personalized eCommerce experience, and if you don’t prove you understand what they want they’ll likely choose to shop somewhere else.

Providing personalized product suggestions is an excellent shopping cart practice that can be incredibly powerful when done correctly. Crocs.com understands this, and recommends related products at the end of its first checkout page. This proves to the shopper that the company understands why they're making the purchase, and cares about making their experience even better.

A personalized product suggestion banner located below a product detail page on the Crocs' shoes website.

Step 2: Showcasing Products

Your eCommerce website is a virtual gateway to your business and your brand—first impressions count, and looks can be everything. This means that, if you want shoppers to buy your products, you have to first make those products look appealing enough to buy.

The conversion clock starts ticking as soon as a shopper focuses their attention on a specific product/products. At this point, your number one goal is to get the item added to their cart. It’s true that there are many different ways to arrange a product detail page, but there are some specific tactics that help retain shopper interest and make them more likely to commit to a purchase.

Using top-quality photography is one foolproof way to capture shoppers’ attention and guide them through to checkout. We all know that great images sell products, so make sure your images really "pop" by placing them on a distraction-free, neutral-colored background. But photography isn’t the only way to showcase your products; dynamic views and user reviews are two great ways to guide shoppers on their journey to the checkout.

3. PotteryBarn.com: Dynamic Product Views

Product views are static on most online stores, but some of the best eCommerce websites provide dynamic images that capture the shopper’s attention. Pottery Barn does this exceptionally well; on their website, product views change dynamically to showcase different angles, feature various uses for the item, or display the item in new settings. This all serves to make the journey more appealing, and better informs the customer’s purchase.

An example of dynamic product views from the Pottery Barn website, which allows a customer to see a product within different contexts.

4. Nordstrom.com: Product Reviews

We all instinctively want to highlight our bestselling products, but the reality is that shoppers won’t believe even the best-written marketing prose until it’s been confirmed by another shopper. User reviews are proven sales drivers, and many shoppers won't purchase new products without them.

Nordstrom uses product reviews incredibly well; the site’s open and proactive approach to product feedback gives it more credibility, which translates into more conversions, greater shopper loyalty, and ultimately higher sales.

A screenshot of product reviews on a ecommerce website.

Step 3: The Checkout Process

It’s estimated that, in 2016, almost 70% of online shopping carts were abandoned before payment was made. One of the biggest reasons shoppers abandon their online purchases is because the checkout process is too cumbersome.

As a retailer, your job is to get customers through the payment process as quickly and painlessly as possible. There are two particularly powerful ways to do this.

5. Bellroy.com: One-Page Checkout

Long forms with several steps that require the browser to load new pages often make for impatient shoppers. For this reason, a one-page checkout is a great way for retailers to increase conversions.

At Bellroy.com, all relevant details are entered on a single page, so shoppers can check out quickly. The company also asks its shoppers to provide only the most relevant information (e.g. delivery address and payment details) to place an order. This approach greatly minimizes checkout abandonment.

An example of one-page, express checkout on Bellroy's website.

6. Fab.com: Facebook Login

A Forrester Research study finds that requiring users to register before checking out decreases eCommerce conversions by an alarming 23%. In response, many savvy online retailers are making this step optional.

In addition, social media sign-in widgets are an efficient way to get shopper information. These tools allow shoppers to register with your site without having to create a unique account. The fab.com checkout page provides an option to log in with Facebook to complete the purchase. This saves time, keeps shoppers happy, and increases the likelihood that they will return.

An example of a checkout page using Facebook to process a online purchase.

Although not specific to the grocery vertical, every single one of these suggestions can be used to increase traffic and sales on your grocery eCommerce website.

The key is to focus on making products easy for shoppers to find, showcasing your inventory in innovative ways, and making sure your checkout process is straightforward and quick. This will increase your conversion rate, and keep your customers happy and satisfied.

When you’re ready to start building one of the best eCommerce websites for your brand, download our eBook, “A Grocer's Survival Guide to Digital Retail” by clicking on the button below.


Stefanie Neyland
Stefanie Neyland is a Content Marketing Manager at Mercatus, specializing in all things grocery eCommerce.
Marketing

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