We’re going to start this article with a trivia fact you can bust out at parties.
The first eCommerce sale happened in 1994 when a 21-year-old economics student named Dan Kohn sold a CD to a friend who lived 300 miles away. The order was placed on a Unix machine equipped with a browser called XMosiac.
Fast forward to today, and projections are saying eCommerce sales will reach nearly $60 trillion by 2028.
Yet, about 90% of eCommerce businesses fail – largely due to poor UI and UX design.
eCommerce design trends have seen a lot of innovation since 1994 – and there are no signs of slowing down. As a Shopify development agency, we want to take this opportunity to talk about some of the eCommerce design trends taking shape in the online shopping world – and what they could mean for your eCommerce business in 2023 and beyond.
Let’s dive in.
1. Mobile-First Design
Mobile-first design is nothing new in eCommerce design trends – or web design as a whole. However, the number of mobile sales is continuing to grow at a rapid pace – with projections stating that nearly 44% of eCommerce sales will be made on mobile in 2023 – so it is absolutely worth discussing.
We’ve all likely heard the term “mobile-first” thrown around, but what does it really mean?
As the name implies, the mobile-first web design trend prioritizes the in store experience on a smartphone or tablet over a desktop. This is done in a few key ways:
Responsive Web Design
Responsiveness isn’t a fancy option for an eCommerce website – it’s a baseline requirement for consumer expectations. The layout of the eCommerce website should automatically change depending on the user’s screen size, device, and orientation. Fortunately, there are many responsive Shopify themes to choose from.
Developers and eCommerce website designers will almost always recommend using a responsive theme. Do yourself a favor and listen to them.
Prioritise the “Thumb Zone” in Navigation
The “thumb zone” is the area of a mobile screen that can be easily accessed by the natural movement of the user’s thumb when holding the device with one hand. In eCommerce design, this zone affects how people interact with the store.
Designing your eCommerce platform around the thumb zone involves placing key UX elements like the navigation menu, search bars, and CTA buttons in an easily-reachable place. This will increase the likelihood that users will engage with the eCommerce website.
Easy Mobile Checkout
A general rule in eCommerce web design is that every step in the checkout process is an opportunity for the user to reconsider their decision. In other words, the fewer steps there are, the better chances you have of making a sale. This is even more prevalent on mobile.
Amazon revolutionised this concept with the “One-Click” purchasing option.
Think about how you can eliminate steps in your checkout process.
- Do you really need people to enter their phone numbers?
- Does everyone need to create an account to buy on your eCommerce site?
- Does guest checkout make sense for shopping online?
- Can you incorporate easy payment options like Apple Pay, PayPal, or Google Pay?
Every eCommerce store is a little different. If you’re not sure how to make your checkout process easier, talk to an expert to understand your options.
An eCommerce website should be overly simplified for users. Trust us, shoppers will have no problem going to a different online business if you have a clunky mobile layout. In 2023, mobile-first is one of the fundamental eCommerce design trends that isn’t going anywhere.
2. Whimsigothic Visual Elements
To get into one of the more niche web design trends in eCommerce, we’ve seen a big uptick in whimsigothic visuals for online stores, most prominently from fashion brands.
Let’s unpack this.
Whimsigothic – a combination of whimsical and gothic – embraces darker colours, rich textures, and 90s-esque cult aesthetics. We’ve seen this trend rise to prominence in Gen-Z. A look at the hashtag #whimsigoth on TikTok will show you all sorts of related aesthetics from clothing to interior designs – and they’ve started to influence the layouts of eCommerce stores.
This rebellious look is characterised by darker graphic design styles, fonts, colour palettes, and influences from astrology and ancient runes. We’re not sure if this eCommerce design trend is here to stay, but it’s a touch we’ve seen more of over the past year.
3. Multi-Directional Layouts
Multi-directional layouts are picking up a lot of steam in the eCommerce world.
These website layouts are not confined to a single linear path for navigation. Instead, they allow customers to navigate sites in several directions, giving them the freedom to explore the site more freely.
Online businesses can use these layouts to present their products more interactively. On the flip side, shoppers can use this to compare products side by side and make faster decisions – which is a win for you.
Multi-directional layouts is one of the web design trends we can expect to stick around. If you’re interested in implementing this on your eCommerce site, get in touch with us and we’ll talk about making it happen.
4. Interactive Product Pages
This is another one of the eCommerce design trends that is quickly becoming the status quo. We’ve seen all sorts of innovation on product pages – including VR, Augmented Reality, and 3D photography. Interactive product pages have been in the infancy stages for a few years, but they will almost certainly take on a bigger role in eCommerce platforms in 2023 and beyond.
Product pages are the foundation of your eCommerce store. The biggest challenge in eCommerce has always been that customers cannot see a product physically until it shows up at their front door.
Interactive elements on a product page do a lot to alleviate this challenge.
The goal of interactive product pages is to go beyond the standard description details and give shoppers a more appealing look at an item.
For example, we’ve seen some companies implement Augmented Reality so customers can place a virtual object directly in their home to understand how much space it will take up. We’ve also seen a rise in 360-degree product images – allowing shoppers to examine a item from all angles.
Interactive product pages is a web design trend we’re going to see more of as time goes on. If it’s not already on your radar, it needs to be!
5. AI Chatbots
2023 saw a huge upgrade in AI and natural language processing. Given these advancements, AI chatbots are a no-brainer for eCommerce platforms. If programmed correctly, these bots will do a lot to improve the customer experience, including:
- Answering frequently-asked questions
- Assisting with navigation
- Providing product details and recommendations
- Providing customer support
- Assisting with the checkout process
When shoppers have questions, they want answers now. They don’t want to send an email and wait 24 hours or more for a response. If there is no quick way to get in touch with your online store – customers will have no problem going to your competitors.
We’ve seen a huge AI revolution with OpenAI and ChatGPT in the last couple of months alone. It will be amazing to see what the future holds for these tools – and how they can create a more positive experience on eCommerce websites.
The Bottom Line
eCommerce design trends come and go, but all online shoppers ultimately want the same thing: a convenient, glitch-free experience.
Some of these trends have become cornerstones of online commerce – and others might be a flash in the pan. Either way, it is always interesting to see how internet users are interacting with online stores and what they want from an eCommerce website.
Do you need help with your Shopify store?
The team at Digital Fresh is here to help you achieve a UX design to keep people coming back to your catalog.
We specialise in custom theme development, conversion rate optimisation, eCommerce strategy, online store optimisation, integrations, and managed Shopify support.
For any questions about how we can take your eCommerce platform to the next level, schedule a consultation today.