If you’re committed to bold originality, the ecommerce world is not your rightful domain. The billions of pounds being exchanged are wholly indifferent to your level of creativity, after all, and to ensnare them you don’t need to be first – you just need to be best.
And being best is 90% curation. Thoroughly outperforming the competition is mostly about casting a critical eye over the top dogs and cherry-picking parts to assemble Frankenstein’s online store. A Frankenline store (disregard that).
To that end, in this piece we’re going to take a brisk jog through 10 outstanding ecommerce stores to see what we can learn (or steal) from them. By the end, you’ll have a neat set of tips to keep in mind when you’re looking to setting up an online shop. Let’s begin!
Bittermilk is a store all about jazzy cocktail mixer components. I’m no alcohol or history aficionado, but I can intuitively recognise the old-timey flair of the labels, colours, fonts, and shapes (complete with a page frame). The classy blend of throwback elements with modern functionality gives this pocket-sized page a powerful punch.
What can you learn from Bittermilk, aside from how to throw a dynamite kegger? How to go all-in with your artistic license. It’s not the idea that matters, it’s the execution – got an unusual concept for your ecommerce store? You can probably make it work.
2. Great George Watches
Great George Watches is, as the name suggests, timepiece-centric. And like any good watch company, Great George Watches clearly respects the visitor’s time, getting straight to business with a nice clean layout and value propositions so simple you’d need an active effort to miss them. “Think outside the circle” introduces you to the signature square design, then “Strap into greatness” gives you the second of your two (yes, just two) product choices.
What can you learn from Great George Watches, aside from the current time? How to trim down your product offer. The more complex you make a decision (particularly in the style world), the harder it becomes to make. Keep it simple!
Firebox is a wonderful company of strange people, and they should give me a call if they’re hiring. What you’ll find on the Firebox site is a magical assortment of segments that ooze personality and sheer joy (see above). Goofy cartoons, puns, and madcap zaniness of the variety that could get very grating if not executed to perfection.
What can you learn from Firebox, aside from how much fun it can be to write product descriptions? How to get your visitors on your side. It’s really hard not to identify with the Firebox team and thus want to buy their products, because they go about everything they do with such gusto and fearlessness. It’s almost infuriating.
If you’ve ever had a fever dream about a land made entirely of confectionery (or you’ve seen, say, any iteration of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), then you’ll get a kick (or sugar rush) out of the Bliss store. The pastel blues and pinks make the entire screen look delicious, and given the sensory overlap between taste and smell, that’s a great approach for a beauty product site.
What can you learn from Bliss, aside from how much you’d like digital scratch-and-sniff technology? How to capture a mood with colour. Makeup and beauty products are all about the joy of experimentation, sensation, and relaxation, and that’s all carried across exceptionally well by the theme of the site.
It may be a bit of a cheat that I’m using Pencil, actually a landing page of a broader ecommerce site, but I’m the author so I’m citing artistic license — if only because I like this page so much. While it’s really good in general, I had to include it because of two flourishes in particular: the extension of the battery as you scroll down the screen, and the subsequent twist of the item.
What can you learn from Pencil, aside from how hugely Apple’s design concepts have carried across the industry? How effective subtle motion can be. Even if you don’t really notice the pencil twist as you scroll down, some part of your brain will, and it’ll lend that bit of pop that can put a product page over the edge.