E-commerce websites in 2018. Trends from Top Web Development Agencies

23 January, 2018


More and more consumers use ecommerce websites for buying products, ordering services, reading recommendations, and making right decisions. No wonder that more and more people use mobile devices for it.

It’s interesting, 51% of Americans prefer online shopping and 49% – offline. It seems like ecommerce websites will become more convenient and more popular year by year. But the higher the number of online stores goes, the more intense the competition for attracting potential customers gets. To stay competitive, one needs to follow ecommerce trends.

We prepared certain questions for specialists working in the field of online store and other ecommerce websites development. We tried to understand what online stores should expect in 2018, what tendencies will stay, and what advice will be especially useful for our readers.

  1. Web-design trends for e-commerce websites
  2. Functionality trends for e-commerce websites
  3. What CMS do you recommend and why?
  4. AMP for e-commerce websites. What do you think about this?
  5. What can you recommend for starting an e-commerce website? What should be done at the beginning?
  6. What can you advice e-commerce websites to succeed?
  7. What is the best example of an e-commerce website?
  8. Do e-commerce websites need mobile apps?

Elliot Taylor, Founder, Raison, Brighton, UK

raison

1. Web-design trends for e-commerce websites

Messaging, personalisation and communication improvements.

2. Functionality trends for e-commerce websites

Better integrations to other systems (shipping, analytics…) using available APIs.

3. What CMS do you recommend and why?

WooCommerce (WordPress) if you need something bespoke otherwise Shopify.

4. AMP for e-commerce websites. What do you think about this?

Anything that makes sites faster is great! Speed up the web!

5. What can you recommend for starting an e-commerce website? What should be done at the beginning?

Write a clear, detailed and professional specification. Set expectations correctly from the start. Many projects fail because they don’t plan. If you were building a house you would spend at least 10% of the budget on an architect – are you investing the same amount in your blueprints?

6. What can you advice e-commerce websites to succeed?

Make it work on a marketplace like Amazon or Etsy first – then grow your own ecommerce business.

7. What is the best example of an e-commerce website?

I really like the uk.lush.com website, it’s built by another Brighton based company but using Drupcal Commerce. It shows that it doesn’t matter what the platform is, but what the vision and team behind the project are.

8. Do e-commerce websites need mobile apps?

It depends on the market and customer base. Perhaps. It’s likely that a website can achieve the same without having the added friction of having two channels to sell from.

Arturs Kruze, CEO, Magebit, Riga, Latvia

magebit

1. Web-design trends for e-commerce websites

One of the design trends that was already heavily used in 2017 was minimalism. Having an eCommerce website with clear user journey and easy-to-spot indicators (such as buy now button that stands out) helps to increase the conversion rate. That is because people are different and overloading the website with different elements will scare or confuse the visitors. If the visitors are not confident in the website they are in – they will most likely leave without leaving any value (conversions) to the website itself.

2. Functionality trends for e-commerce websites

One of the trends for eCommerce in 2018 will probably be smart and AI powered recommendations. While there are companies already offering that, usually they are meant for large scale websites. I think, this will change and smaller companies will also start to use those kind of approaches. There are also very few that offer services like “likelihood of purchase predictions” based AI an ML (we are also working on an experiment project like this) but I don’t think these will play a big role in the smaller eCommerce shops, at least in 2018 as it requires quite a lot data to train the ML models to be precise. For large shops – they will use AI and ML wherever they can in 2018. The key players such as Amazon are already utilizing that.

Also, AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) and PWA (Progressive Web Apps) will play a big role in the 2018’s eCommerce. Nowadays, most of the orders happen on mobile devices and serving the online shop properly can increase the conversion rate.

3. What CMS do you recommend and why?

Magento and Shopify. Shopify for small scale websites that have 1 warehouse and 1 language. Magento for anything bigger than that.

At Magebit we focus on Magento and we know it in-and-out. With 7+ years and 15+ certificates we can clearly say that Magento is a good choice for medium and big players. The flexibility of customization makes Magento a leader in eCommerce CMS platforms. Usually, companies that use Magento correctly grow in size VERY FAST and the customization options on Magento are really borderless.

4. AMP for e-commerce websites. What do you think about this?

I think it will happen soon. Some key players of eCommerce are already doing AMP and PWA and the smaller sites will follow. The mobile shoppers are very impulsive and in eCommerce you must use it. Having a fast and easy to use website will make sure the impulsive buyer will not re-think his choice 10 times leading him to abandoning the cart.

5. What can you recommend for starting an e-commerce website? What should be done at the beginning?

Focus on MVP (Minimum Viable Product) first. Making a website with everything will not only lead to a long development time but it will also take your focus on things that do not really matter. First, create the MVP that works perfectly and you will have a good converting store. Then you can look for ways to improve it.

Usually, the ones that try to put in everything at first are the ones that suffer from poor conversion rates and buggy checkout flow.

6. What can you advice e-commerce websites to succeed?

Nowadays, eCommerce is not just an addon for business. Using eCommerce your business can sky-rocket and bring new clients globally. I would recommend businesses not to save on good development, design and marketing services. Taking the low-end for eCommerce growth is same as taking the low-end employees for the business – it will not end well.

7. What is the best example of an e-commerce website?

https://www.hargrovescycles.co.uk/

8. Do e-commerce websites need mobile apps?

It depends. If your website sells under 1k products or don’t have a lot of recurring customers it would be most likely a no. If your orders are mostly recurring within a timeframe of 1 month of less – then probably yes.

For example, AliExpress has a lot of buyers and having the app gives them a big revenue boost. If you have a small store and nobody will download the app – better have spent the money in development and marketing for the website.

Denis and Jacob, Front-end developer and Developer, Dotinum, Wrocław, Poland

dotinum

1. Web-design trends for e-commerce websites

Denis: Mobile first layout.
Jacob: Responsive version of the site with special attention to mobile devices.

2. Functionality trends for e-commerce websites

Denis: Offline support and push notifications.
Jacob: The exact availability of products.

3. What CMS do you recommend and why?

Denis: I recommend custom shops written from scratch.
Jacob: Customized custom stores.

4. AMP for e-commerce websites. What do you think about this?

Denis: I don’t think it’s a good idea. AMP is fine for simple blog articles, but it’s too limited to match full ecommerce requirements. Maybe only for static pages and products listing.
Jacob: I think that this is not a good solution. The front-end doesn’t burden the shop, just like the back-end.

5. What can you recommend for starting an e-commerce website? What should be done at the beginning?

Denis: Full functional requirements analysis. Nobody can write a good software without proper specification.
Jacob: A good plan on how the shop should work and look. Good technical documentation.

6. What can you advice e-commerce websites to succeed?

Denis: Keep simple ordering process and not complicated shipping, price list. Support for new payment methods is important too.
Jacob: A simple product catalog and the purchase process. At present, shops should be light and simple.

7. What is the best example of an e-commerce website?

Denis: Polish e-commerce website – allegro.pl.
Jacob: From Poland: morele.net, x-kom.pl. And from foreign: gearbest.com.

8. Do e-commerce websites need mobile apps?

Denis: Maybe Progressive Web Applications are better solution for ecommerce.
Jacob: E-commerce websites need mobile apps only when they are very complex. A simple shop can be well served through a responsive version of the site.

Yogesh Trivedi, CEO, M-Connect Media, Georgia, USA

mconnect

1. Web-design trends for e-commerce websites

Design is important aspect as this is the factor will make customer to navigate on the website on your defined way. Most important trends should be
Full screen layout, fast indexed assistive search, quick popup forms, less page load and guided selling.

2. Functionality trends for e-commerce websites

Every eCommerce website includes – customer account, dashboard, product list and view page, cart and checkout. But what makes an website different from other, how an functional prospect can change the mind of viewers to stay on site to create sales. Lot of factors that can be counted as functional trends for eCommerce website but as per my experience over analytics research over numbers of client globally i found an eCommerce website needs following:

  • Landing pages needs to have proper navigation facility for customer.
  • Site search needs to be auto suggestive.
  • Login and Register should happen on same page without navigating to login or register page, it should be via ajax popup.
  • If you offer free shipping over some amount then you may visualize this with great UI and UX.
  • Minimize the steps of checkout, the more simpler it is the more customer will feel comfortable.
  • Display the only products which are available to ship as per customer county, state or country, or hide products from customer which does not make sense for them.
  • Micro data information is very important for the search engine, its defines the rich data of your website on google, yahoo, twitter.

3. What CMS do you recommend and why?

Just one word – WordPress, because its so easy and a non technical person even can handle a website with less guidance.

4. AMP for e-commerce websites. What do you think about this?

An eCommerce website who does not carry mobile application and want customer to display accelerated pages. The much important benefit for setting up AMP for eCommerce site is to serve fast result pages where google will display managed pages on top of search results via mobile devices.

5. What can you recommend for starting an e-commerce website? What should be done at the beginning?

Sounds so easy to start an ecommerce website but the people who think is easy needs to understand the process and marketing plans. Without marketing plans you can not run any business. It includes what products you are serving, targeted audience, press release awareness, website release event, trade shows, logistics and shipping, payment methods security and many more depending on business vertical.

6. What can you advice e-commerce websites to succeed?

Successful door for an eCommerce websites are their customer satisfaction, if you have best customer service team and timely logistics transportation then you are the best and successful business among online world.

7.What is the best example of an e-commerce website?

I think amazon.com is the best example, it have millions of product and visualized based on customer needs.

8. Do e-commerce websites need mobile apps?

Its depends and required on a particular stage, its not mandatory for all the eCommerce websites till you have mobile optimized template to serve mobile experience on phone and tablets.

Mike Podlinev, Chief operating officer, Genico LLC, Florida, USA

genico

1. Web-design trends for e-commerce websites

Classic web design disruption. Trendy e-commerce websites are getting to look more like long form content websites with adaptive web design, asymmetrical grids, colorful backgrounds and lightness. Furthermore animated illustrations and photos take a centric place.

2. Functionality trends for e-commerce websites

Personal recommendations on basis of customer’s activity, omnichannel user experience, smart chatbots, 1-click ordering and cryptocurrencies payment.

3. What CMS do you recommend and why?

It depends on what to recommend – hosted or self-hosted CMS. As a hosted solution I would advise Shopify because of vast features and flexibility with full control over the website nevertheless it’s not free. As a self-hosted solution my choice fell on open source Magento which also is the powerful kit, but a little more complicated for deployment. Both have multi-language and customization capabilities and offer big collection of add-ons and modern themes and templates for any product and taste.

4. AMP for e-commerce websites. What do you think about this?

Many initiatives from Google are noteworthy. It’s very interesting technology, but I think at the moment it doesn’t suit well for e-commerce websites (no JS support) despite its testing by Lancome.

5. What can you recommend for starting an e-commerce website? What should be done at the beginning?

First of all you have to answer the questions:

  • What you are going to sell, how, and to whom? Define your niche and target customer, you cannot sell to anyone.
  • What budget do I have in order to launch a website and marketing campaign? Assume that your first attempts may fail, but you have to learn from this changing tactics or strategy.

And then you can pick CMS (hosted or self-hosted), think about product\service supply chain, payment service provider you will use to collect money from customers, how you will care about customers (phone calls, email, helpdesk and livechat, the last one is mandatory for modern e-commerce websites even more than phone support) and then drive the traffic to the website. Anyway you can hire an expert to do that the best way on your behalf.

6. What can you advice e-commerce websites to succeed?

Analyze everything. Integrate your website with website and heatmap analytics solutions like Google Analytics, Hotjar and Kissmetrics. And then check and analyze different things like: traffic sources, bounce rate, customer flow, conversion rate of traffic sources\customers types\product range, average order value. Cut costs of what just eats your money, and invest more time in what brings you profit.

7. What is the best example of an e-commerce website?

Amazon.com is the one of the best. But additionally I would mark the desktop version of everlane.com

8. Do e-commerce websites need mobile apps?

Of course, because mobile apps have capabilities that websites have not. E.g., easy authentication, geofencing and push notification with personalized offer based on it, seamless checkout with inherent loyalty program. Mobile app can also bring such amazing experience like Pokemon Go brought to its audience using technology of augmented reality which can be implemented for cosmetics or clothes online store.

Manish Jain, Managing Director / Co-Founder, Konstant Infosolutions, Los Altos, USA

konstant

1. Web-design trends for e-commerce websites

According to the latest design trends, businesses these days are going with a limited color palette that suits their theme of commerce. Transitions & Animations are on a rise and are being added to different components of a website like links, navigation, and images to create fine user experience. In the call to action series the Add-to-cart button is offered as a sticky by most of the modern ecommerce websites. Apart from this, Visual Stepped Navigation helps quickly navigate through sections and it is increasingly making it to the ecommerce space. Your website can be presented either in a horizontal and or in a vertical responsive pattern. Also, violating Grids is the new thing in as you would see texts, images and overlays and disarranged patterns making grids go faded. Also, Lifestyle Photography is going to inspire choices of the businesses and will keep them upmarket and exclusive with their offerings, but of course for those who can afford it.

2. Functionality trends for e-commerce websites

Omni-channel experience is picking up momentum as technology bracket is expanding to allow users across different platforms to connect with the services alike. Social Sharing again is going to be on top of everything that you do to promote your ecommerce business. Mobile Payment would be a more dependable practice than ever. AI and Big Data Analytics would be ruling the trends and making most of the ecommerce businesses to apply these to serve users better. The Bots would be changing the way customer communication works and there would be new apps and programs supporting this idea.

3. What CMS do you recommend and why?

Magento of course, if you want to go with a more sturdy and standardized option. Otherwise you can choose to go with WooCommerce, if you are looking to go with something quick and flexible. These options stay fit in most of the cases as they are best in the traits they have to offer and cover most of the required ecommerce features – better than any other alternatives would do.

4. AMP for e-commerce websites. What do you think about this?

We go with what Google thinks – ‘AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is a natural fit for e-commerce because AMP makes webpages fast, and fast pages help with purchase conversions.’ And if you are not able to attain optimized speed for your pages you are going to lose big on it.

5. What can you recommend for starting an e-commerce website? What should be done at the beginning?

It should be started with building the roadmap for your venture – to begin with. Do the primary research on what your idea has to offer in terms of opportunity and threats. Conducting SWOT analysis will help you with this. Have a look at what all the players in the domain or segment are doing. Do Competitor & Market Analysis. These two studies should be complementing each other to allow you enough inputs to confidently approach the ecommerce solution and build it right. The design should be based on a fool-proof layout scheme and navigational structure aimed to serve best of user experience. The website should be then referred to a theme that well complements your idea of online commerce and resonates with your target audiences.

6. What can you advice e-commerce websites to succeed?

The very first thing is don’t rush for launch. Prepare the conceptual base first and make a fool-proof plan for your product, doing extensive research of it. Make sure you have enough information to help you build the right product. As you are all done with building your product, test it for quality, viability and value from all perspectives.

7. What is the best example of an e-commerce website?

https://www.amazon.com/

8. Do e-commerce websites need mobile apps?

In the times when we are progressively growing towards owning and using mobile apps in every aspect of life, no domain can do without going mobile. However, it is always advisable to first build a strong presence with ecommerce web and once you have reached a certain mark of existence and achievement you need to take that experience to mobile apps. This would allow you to engage your users better, offering them higher quality and value, that is innate to mobile apps.

Adam Morris, CEO, Redstage Worldwide, Jersey City, USA

1. Web-design trends for e-commerce websites

After being hated for years, animation is coming back in a limited fashion.  Subtle animations will highlight UI elements after a previous action to help users find the next step.

2. Functionality trends for e-commerce websites

  • AI and Machine learning to present users with better experiences (search, personalization, reordering, email marketing).
  • IOT – products will sell things directly and bypass ecommerce sites.
  • Tighter omnichannel tech integration – example: Target App.  Allows you to scan an item in store and provides additional information and additional ordering options.

3. What CMS do you recommend and why?

Magento and Shopify, for their robust app stores & integration abilities.

4. AMP for e-commerce websites. What do you think about this?

Very slowly gaining some traction, but with the Google-First SEO release happening soon, I think we’ll see a big rush for sites to optimize in this direction.

5. What can you recommend for starting an e-commerce website? What should be done at the beginning?

Do something unique, and do the market research to make sure someone will buy it. If you don’t have a unique product, you need a unique brand, unique method or some other unique value proposition. If you can’t find a way to stand out and attract your key market segments, you’re not going to survive. Think about the minimum viable product. Get them up and running to test your hypothesis about whether people will buy your product or not.

6. What can you advice e-commerce websites to succeed?

Have a clear brand message, brand promise, and unique value proposition.  Focus on growing your customer base as importantly as growing sales, and growing sales starts with offering something that immediately makes customers think of you, first.

7. What is the best example of an e-commerce website?

Best is really tough.  Best Retail?  Sure, Amazon.  The site itself is not the secret sauce.  Pricing, product mix, Amazon prime strategy, kindle….Amazon is constantly innovating to stay ahead.  I also admire Massdrop for mixing group buying and enthusiast communities so well.  1800contacts.com has a great brand promise (price matching), great UI on the site, and perfectly timed follow up and great messaging for reordering.  They also have fantastic customer service.  I quite like United Airline’s digital experience (site and app) for purchasing and managing my travel.

8. Do e-commerce websites need mobile apps?

Usually not, unless you are a top 100 retailer, or if your business model has many touch points with the customer (subscriptions, order modifications, reordering, regular new product launches, community).

Conclusions

We noticed that almost all experts talk about such tendencies like a bet on mobile traffic, minimalism in design, maximum personalization aiming for creating an individual approach  to every client, confidential access since ecommerce is connected to payments.

The main tendency of 2018 for ecommerce websites is responsive design. So, if you want to get more customers, your website has to be simple and at the same time very individual. It should arouse positive emotions, since it’s one of the main factors allowing to stay in users consciousness.

Besides, if you plan to create your own ecommerce website, the best way is to start from determining a target audience and prepare MVP. These two steps will let you define real demand on a market.

And if you want to know more about tendencies of website promotion and design in 2018, we recommend to have a look at the following articles:

As online sales keep growing, keep an eye on current tech to make sure you’re not losing out.