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Which ecommerce sites are setting a great example for others to follow?  

I've been asking the Econsultancy blog team, as well as a few ecommerce experts, for their suggestions of great ecommerce sites. 

I've picked the rest, some because they offer an excellent all round experience, others aren't perfect, but were chosen for specific aspects which others can copy/learn from....

Fallen Hero

Suggested by our very own Christopher Ratcliff, this site makes it onto the list thanks to its use of responsive design and a smooth checkout process

With no registration, customers are sent straight into the checkout process, which contains clean pages, simple forms and no unnecessary distractions. 

Fallen Hero checkout page

The site has worked well so far, with 143% sales uplift from tablets alone

AO.com

AO, previously Appliances Online, is a great site to head for if you want to see examples of best practice. It has also been refreshingly honest with us, talking about how it redesigned its product pages for example. 

Schuh's Stuart McMillan nominated AO, though we may have done so anyway. 

Why is the site good? Lots of reasons, but check out the product pages for one.

We have great use of social proof with the reviews and Facebook mentions, while all the information customers need to decide on big ticket purchases is there, along with clear delivery information.

Bellroy 

The product and landing pages on this site are excellent, and go the extra mile to describe and demonstrate the products. My only gripe is autoplaying videos. 

Take this image for example, a great way to show what you can fit in there: 

Some great navigation too. You can scroll left or right from product pages to see slimmer/thicker wallets. Or use the top nav bar instead: 

ASOS

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). 

According to Paul Rouke from PRWD:

Across devices, in fashion retailing ASOS continues to deliver an exceptional experience in many areas - service proposition, site speed, genuinely valuable shopping features, integration across devices, and just lots of lots of ecommerce best practice.

Who needs to reinvent the wheel when you have a clear focus on delivering what visitors expect and desire?

Threadless

This site was nominated by Christopher Ratcliff and David Moth, so it must be good... 

One neat feature is the 'scarcity indicator' on the product pages, a great use of urgency for increasing conversion rates

B&Q

B&Q does a lot well online, and is making strides to provide a multichannel offering, with in-store wi-fi and loyalty apps

It offers a great user experience on desktop. Ben Davis likes the category pages, such as this one for wooden sheds: 

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. 

Hunter

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 call to action buttons. 

Schuh

I've often used Schuh's product pages as an example of how to use images in ecommerce, with great presentation and a wide range of angles. 

It isn't just images though, Schuh gets a lot right, such as click and collect within one hour, easy returns, and proactive use of live chat

Mulberry

As David Moth describes in his recent site review, Mulberry has managed to deliver a blend of luxury and user experience, proving that the two are not incompatible. 

The site is well-designed,, with some great imagery to showcase its products. I also like the little touches such as the mouseover effects on category pages. 

The North Face

Another selection from Paul Rouke, and here's why:

Over in the US during 2013 we’ve been extremely impressed by the significant improvements The North Face has made to its browsing and buying user experience. Its new product lister experience and in particular the big, bold, persuasive product pages are key highlights in the user experience.

It has truly embraced key concepts, such as white space, clarity of information, the importance of providing engaging content and how to provide customer reviews in a persuasive, emotive way.

Dune

Nominated by Chris Lake for it's excellent product pages and use of product images. Here, it uses five different product images, as well as the option of a 360 view. I also like the way it displays both UK and European sizes on the page. 

Freepeople

James Gurd:

For pure ecommerce, I'm a fan of Freepeople.com, a US clothing retailer. It has created a strong visual brand identity online and invests in striking product imagery. The site is just enjoyable to browse.

Watchshop.com

Guest blogger Nick Whitmore nominates this site:

I recently usedwatchshop.com, I found the watch buying guides and the user reviews to be very helpful. I felt the site offered an overall service much more tailored to someone looking to buy a watch than Amazon does. Therefore I think there’s a lot of room for smaller, niche/boutique stores to flourish online to bring some personality back to online shopping.

Amazon is great because it offers low prices and an expansive collection of products, but could you call the customer service team and have them recommend a nice Rolex watch in gold for under £10,000? I doubt it. 

Amazon

Hard not to mention Amazon, since it's doing pretty well at the moment... 

Perhaps the most impressive aspect, and one which other ecommerce sites can learn from, is the ease of repeat purchases. One click and I've placed an order, no time for second thoughts as I negotiate the checkout process. 

Lovehoney

Lovehoney provides a great all round experience, and there's much that other sites can learn from it. Profits and sales are on the rise, which kind of proves the point. 

It does a lot of things very well: great product pages, site search, no hassle returns, excellent copywriting, and a smooth checkout.

It also takes care of the little details that persuade any doubters, such as assuring shoppers that the packaging is discreet, and won't embarrass them if the neighbours take the package in. 

House of Fraser

James Gurd: 

In the UK, I'm always impressed with the marketing work at House of Fraser. The site sells beautiful clothes from the top brands and always has a strong promotional calendar to drive online and in-store traffic.

The spikes it sees during brand events are quite amazing. It has lots of opportunities in mobile and it's an area it's investing in continually.

Nordstrom

I've chosen this site for its excellent use of customer service and self-service, though it's very good all round. 

Here's what I mean. On the product pages, as well as a link to a detailed size guide, shoppers can see fit information from other customers. 

This leads to the reviews section: 

Shoe and clothing retailers have a challenge in overcoming customers' doubts online, and one way to overcome this is to provide plenty of information about sizes. 

Firebox

This site is a lot of fun. I've chosen it for its excellent product pages, but there's much else to recommend on the site. 

Kiddicare

Great use of reviews on this site. First of all, by using review scores as part of the filtered navigation: 

Then, on product pages, the detail gathered from previous buyers really allows shoppers to get a feel for the products and their best uses. 

Picking out pros and cons, as well as best uses is a great way to help shoppers decide on a product. 

J Peterman

The product page copywriting on this site is superb, and here's one example: 

Simply Hike

This site uses instructional videos to show the different features of more complex products such as tents, which are hard to show with images alone. 

Which ecommerce sites have impressed you, and why? Please let me know below...

Our Festival of Marketing event in November is a two day celebration of the modern marketing industry, featuring speakers from brands including LEGO, Tesco, Barclays, FT.com and more. 

Graham Charlton

Published 14 January, 2014 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (39)

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Nick Green

Yep, OK, fine.

An element of the product making it easy, perhaps?

What about B2B? What about 'boring' industries? What about non-physical product e-commerce (financial services, software etc)?

Try making a dazzling, functional, engaging e-commerce site for those. That's where the real challenge is.

over 2 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Nick - I consider that a challenge. Let's see if I can find 21 great sites for boring products.

Give me a few days...

over 2 years ago

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Gabriel

I agree with Nick Green on this, we need more examples of who is winning in the area of non-physical products, maybe also in the SaaS industry.

Nevertheless, the list of examples is very good, and one can learn a lot from these websites.

over 2 years ago

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Emma

Hear hear Nick Green, lets have good practice websites for the B2B sector and information provision organisations.

Look forward to seeing this Graham.

over 2 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

I'll do my best - any suggestions would be welcome.

over 2 years ago

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Alan Ng

Thanks for list, surprised that Argos didn't make the list.

Click to collect, stock checking reserving, all add to differentiate the buying experience and add to improving user experience. I guess it's a different sector but they do make it very easy to buy.

over 2 years ago

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Stacey Cavanagh

I love ASOS. I really do. Similarly, it's hard to find fault with AO.

But 4 of that list of 21 don't have mobile versions of their site so can you really say that they're "doing it right" in 2014?

over 2 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Graham,

Nice list for reference material.

In B2B, take a peek at the Alibaba market place.

Also worth asking @priteshpatel and @dougkessler for input as they are B2B specialists.

cheers
james

over 2 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Alan NG Argos probably should have made the list, for reserve and collect alone.

@Stacey - that's a good point, though I'm not necessarily saying they're all perfect. J Peterman doesn't have a mobile site, but I picked it as an example of product page copy.

over 2 years ago

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Jake Kirk, Managing Partner at www.kitepackaging.co.uk

I agree with several comments already made. Marketing teams and business stragtegists traditionally focus on B2C when anaysling E-commerce trends and behaviour. While many approcahes to brand building and online marketing are similar across both B2C and B2B, there are still many challenges unique to B2B e-commerce. Considering the macro-economic growth of B2B brands online, B2B is often forgotten when it comes to these types of articles.

over 2 years ago

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Justin

Other than the real big hitters, ASOS, Amazon et al., I wonder what the conversion rates for some of these ecommerce sites are...They certainly look pretty, many render well across different devices, but are they truly sweating their assets?

over 2 years ago

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Simon Burton

You've missed out on the Shop Direct Groups websites e.g. very.co.uk who are eating ASOS and others lunch in revenue terms just now. Huge growth in online sales year on year with the customer at the very heart of their digital business. Complete transition in 5 years from a traditional high street and call centre business to 84% online. This should be recognised and applauded.

over 2 years ago

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Adam Hirst

This is a great read - thanks for posting.

It's interesting to see AO receive even more plaudits for their eCommerce offering. They clearly have a strong digital strategy that is deservedly being recognised by many.

over 2 years ago

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Brenda Kelly, Content Marketing Manager at Bibendum Wine Ltd

I agree @Nick. It would be great to get more B2B examples of best practice in general.

Great read though - thanks!

over 2 years ago

Gary Moyle

Gary Moyle, Head of SEO at NetBooster

I was also going to mention Very.co.uk as they are making the most of their existing search results with some very clever use of video thumbnails and star ratings.

Although I'm a little biased, I definitely think Argos should have been on the list as well. I bought a lot of products from Argos over Christmas and their click and collect and online reservation functionality is very customer friendly. When you combine this with the great customer service and streamlined purchasing that we are now seeing in Argos stores it makes a winning formula.

over 2 years ago

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stephen

Interesting list, thanks for sharing Graham, plenty of clothes and shoes, was interested to see the B&Q site on the list despite zero user comments on the sheds - but do you have examples of other note-worthy e-commerce sites in the gardening category? Appreciate any pointers you can offer - Stephen

over 2 years ago

Rob Owlett

Rob Owlett, Head Of Online Marketing at Creode

Great read and some interesting selections Graham, surprised to see some of the above mentions left out.

I would also have filtered through some smaller companies that are also doing a sterling job of their ecommence websites to prove you don't need immense budgets to 'do it right'. Maybe you could feature these in your next post?

A possible selection for your '21 great sites for boring products/services'.. Andiamo Translation.

I also agree with Simon, the Shop Direct Groups should certainly be recognised and applauded.

Great post.

over 2 years ago

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Sofie Moulin

Hi Graham,

Interesting, indeed!

In B2B, have a look at www.powervote.com. They just re-designed their website and I think they do a good job. The ecommerce is not direct but this is where it is getting tricky for B2B, so worth a review in my opinion.

over 2 years ago

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Ryan Kaye, Head of Digital at Uniform

I would have to add in http://www.indochino.com/, did a similar exercise last year reviewing designs for product pages and Indochino had the nicest designs and best use of product photography.

I also admire AO.com, their top 5 products in each category really works for their product range and I would be interested to see how many users bother looking past these.

over 2 years ago

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Amanda Wrathall

Loved reading this, it would be great to see top 21 where you can not always see the product, selling an experience for example

over 2 years ago

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Kevin Reeve, UX Manager at The Hut Group

Hi Graham,

Great list of examples, many we've come across before and consistently check up with to see what they're doing.

I'm currently starting the process of re-designing our whole Account area across multiple e-commerce sites, do you have any recommendations for good examples from other sites for that at all?

Many thanks,

Kev

over 2 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Kevin do you mean unifying the checkout across all the sites? I think Gap/Banana Republic does this, though not sure if that's a great example.

Simply Group is pretty good though: http://www.simplyhike.co.uk/

over 2 years ago

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Merinda

Have a look at Isabellas Passion http://www.isabellaspassion.com.au Its pretty design and funtionality

over 2 years ago

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Kevin Reeve, UX Manager at The Hut Group

Thanks for the suggestions guys.

Graham - its more of the 'my account' area and a common solution for multiple sites if that makes sense. So good examples of Order History and Message Centre areas within the main Account area etc rather than Checkout.

over 2 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Kevin I see. None spring to mind, but I'll keep my eyes peeled.

over 2 years ago

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Kevin Reeve, UX Manager at The Hut Group

Great, thanks Graham.

over 2 years ago

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Elaine

Just commenting on ASOS as an example of best practice...I think they are still a way behind Shopbop (and Nordstrom & HoF to an extent) in terms of some great customer focused features. For e.g.

1) They currently don't take customer reviews at all. Not only do most fashion sites incorporate this feature as standard, but they also follow up with customers by automated email after they have received their goods to prompt them for their reviews - I appreciate negative reviews could have a negative effect on sales, but overall it helps the customer with their decision in regards to sizing etc.

2) Although ASOS have a wishlist function, they don't send email alerts when items in your wishlist are running low in stock or have been reduced in price (Shopbop do both, very effective, on me anyway;).

over 2 years ago

Harry Drok

Harry Drok, E-Commerce Country Manager at Personal

Nice post, would be interesting to see these kind of overviews from a national perspective as well. Will list a few examples from NL over the weekend.

over 2 years ago

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Music Sales

For those asking for examples of sites selling non-physical goods, here's http://www.sheetmusicdirect.com, selling digital sheet music.

about 2 years ago

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Stephanie

Barstools are generally not considered super exciting, but I hope http://barstoolcomforts.com/ proves otherwise!

J Peterman's copy is amazing.

You gave me some ideas on some good pictures for my site. Thank you!

about 2 years ago

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Visakan Veerasamy, Marketing at ReferralCandy

Hey Nick, if you're looking for some sexy non-physical product ecommerce stuff... You Need A Budget comes to mind- http://www.ynab.com !

about 2 years ago

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Steanshops

You have a nice collection of Online Shopping Store....
http://www.steanshops.com/ is an Online Shopping Directory you can post your Classified ads and obtain more business.

about 2 years ago

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Rick Y

@graham This was one of the best articles i've read about this topic so far. I can't wait to see your b2b list. Thanks!

about 2 years ago

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Bambang Rahardjo

Thanks for the great list Graham!
honestly i really enjoy with the UI of Threadless and also its features.

about 2 years ago

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Rajhab Muttha

Ok, ASOS and Bellroy got me started. Especially ASOS. The others aren't so spectacular imho.

But man, damn that ASOS! I'll speed up my migration from Shopify to Microweber (meh, switching between services is like moving to another city lol) and strive towards something similar. One day, I hope.

Thanks for the list!

about 2 years ago

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L P, Personal at Findandwear

Great Article Graham!

Can you recommend an article like yours but with bigger sites? We are working in a product aggregator ( http://www.findandwear.co.uk ) and is incredible difficult to design a simple and useful site with more than 100k products.

about 2 years ago

Paul Wander

Paul Wander, Owner at Inviqa

Good B2B sites are often hidden behind logins catering for specific customer catalogues, pricing dealt with on an 'Account' basis rather than online payment for transactions.

However what about http://www.3663.co.uk/ - that's a good one. Any others out there?

almost 2 years ago

Pete Fairburn

Pete Fairburn, Managing Director at morphsites

Certainly some inspirational examples here, thank you.

I agree that B2B is a neglected topic at times, perhaps because it is perceived as less glamorous. We operate a lot in this area and would welcome your thoughts on www.blake-envelopes.com, a B2B site for envelopes - not the most exciting product!

almost 2 years ago

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Renata Dillong, Owner at Mingleflow

Hello,
I think if you are selling non-tangible goods (like experience or a service) you need to focus on the description of the product and try to come up with a descriptive picture which gives the feeling for the customer what you are talking about.
We have just tried to do it for our service, web design and development, which - if you just think of the services themselves - is really not tangible; but as a first stage, we are satisfied with the outcome: http://mingleflow.co.uk/ecommerce.php

8 months ago

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