4 Things Shaping the Future of Online Shopping


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Looking back at the last 10 years, tracking the evolution of the different technologies has become quite challenging of a task; one reason why is the speed of said evolution, another could be the immense number of new tools, practices and technologies surfacing in a single month let alone a year or two. However, if this has to tell you anything, it’s the fact that the current generations are aiming at surpassing themselves in terms of achieving the impossible and in return leveraging the experience of living from the tiniest detail to the greatest.

When it comes to one thing that has definitely evolved in the past few years in human lives, it’s definitely the shopping experience. Since we’re now almost always online, our mere day-to-day interactions online produce an incredible amount of big data which, with the increasing power of computing, is used to make our experience, as customers, richer, more seamless, more entertaining and of course more fulfilling to our needs.

Imagining what the future could be like could appear to be easy from afar yet remains difficult because you never know what the next breakthrough is or where it is coming from. However, if the future is anywhere, it’s lying right in the palm of our hands, the smartphone. Think of all the things made easy by having your smartphone on you, countless, right?! Consumers are now engaging with brands on various channels through their mobile phones, be it social media with the brand itself or finding inspirations from influencers or with the brands’ e-commerce platform.  The sheer number of clicks and actions a customer has to go through to go from engagement to purchase is still hindering. Brands have been reinventing the customer experience through mobile by distributing their online presence between e-commerce and mobile apps for more reach, all you have to do is scroll, but it is not yet enough, carts are still abandoned and needs are yet to be fulfilled in a better way.

We imagine a future with less friction and an even more seamless experience and we think the next 4 things are what will be taking our shopping experiences up a notch or a few in the next few years.

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Machine Learning and AI

With the help of machine learning and AI, your desired product will find you not the opposite, since a unique experience is all about being personal, an experience tailored just for you, right? If you think online shopping still lacks the presence of someone there to turn to for inquiries and questions, chatbots are now developed and equipped with all the information anyone would need, ready to answer all your questions and might even take over the whole customer support as we know it.

Augmented & Virtual Realities

You will be able to find all the info and reviews you’d be searching for to determine whether you should purchase X or Y as you point your phone towards the product using AR experiences online or in-store. The lack of the sensory element in online shopping will be a thing of the past, overcome by creating engaging buying experiences using VR though which you can see the product, place it where it fits, try it on and customize it to your taste.

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Digital Fingerprinting

You won’t be afraid to share your personal information to make a purchase online because you won’t have to when you can present your unique digital fingerprint for authentication, reducing the number of steps needed to checkout and leading to higher conversion. Digital fingerprints will also be of great help in avoiding fraud in online transactions protecting both retailers and customers.

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Personalized Payments

Online payment is still such a hurdle to many, right? Personalizing payments should come as a natural evolution to personalizing the whole shopping experience. Retailers will be providing means for customers to decide when and how much they’re willing to pay, gaining not only their loyalty but also the certainty to come back for more.

As a retailer, are you ready for the future? Are you ready to engage the customer on more than meets the eye? The survival in this game will be not only for the smartest, but also for the first and not necessarily the best anymore. Hop onto the train of the new first and you’re guaranteed a notice from a customer overwhelmed by choices yet holds the upper hand all the way and is always looking for only what calls their name.

UX in E-Commerce: Web vs Mobile (Pt.2)

In part one of this post, we reviewed the differences between a desktop web and mobile design throughout an e-commerce website. We reviewed some of the important pages including: home, category, product and cart page.

In this post, we continue the journey through another four key screens.

Search (5/8)

Search functionality is one of the most crucial features that should not be only included in the e-commerce website but also implemented in the most efficient way. The usability of this functionality doesn’t only lie in the interface of the search bar but also in how smart the search is.

Web view:

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Amazon search got it right. Just from generic keyword like “Laptop”, it offers suggestions related to everything a laptop needs as well as the ability to search in a specific category.

Mobile view:

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Emphasizing on how important the search is, amazon mobile design uses the entire width of the screen to display the search bar as well as being thump friendly. The suggestion list height doesn’t extend more than the space above the keyboard.

Search Result (6/8)

Next step, after having a smart search, is having a usable search result page. That includes a clean display of products, sorting, filtering and different display options if needed.

Web view:

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At first glance, Amazon design may seem noisy but you can easily comprehend how the page is designed in blocks and each block serves a specific functionality.

  • Block 1: Showing number of results found, the keyword I used in the search, sorting and display options
  • Block 2: Filters
  • Block 3: Search result. This is the most important block and that’s why it takes the most space.
  • Block 4 & 5: show ads, promotions or sponsored content.

Mobile view:

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Amazon mobile design is very clean and organized. It starts out with a message that includes the keyword used in the search, followed by the search result count, link to filters and the result products. Sorting and filtering options are included in another screen due to the variety of options.

Checkout (7/8)

Implementing a usable checkout process decreases abandonment rate and guarantees a solid conversion. However, the process is lengthy and requires too many information, especially from first-time users. We will not go into details of the process but rather look at it from a bird’s-eye view and how it looks like on web versus mobile design.

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A common practice in design a checkout is to include the following:

  • Remove all elements that aren’t related to the checkout process like website header, that includes search bar, categories and any extra links.
  • Include a progress bar indicating the number of steps, current and completed steps.
  • Emphasize on the security of the process.
  • Provide support for the customers, in the form of live chat or help line.
  • Call to action buttons are the most prominent visual element.

In B&H checkout design, the desktop size can afford to include all the following practices in the same screen as well as order summary always present of the right side of the page.

Mobile view:

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B&H mobile checkout disregards almost all the practices followed in the desktop design due to the limited space. However, it depends on how the process should flow smoothly where users can only focus on one task at a time and that is what they can currently see from the long one-page checkout.

Post-checkout & Account (8/8)

As important as the checkout process it, the follow up process is also crucial. If the follow up is frustrating, so will be the customer and will avoid any future transactions on the website. This includes creating a new account on the website as well as the page displayed after a successful checkout; the thank you page.

Web view:

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B&H promotes their users to identify themselves before checking out. It provides different options including guest checkout and social media login. Following a successful checkout, user receives an invoice with their order details as well as the ability to track that order. It also promotes guest checkout to create an account by only providing a password.

Mobile view:

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B&H mobile design is almost identical to the web design but accommodates to the small screen. This is due to the importance of every elements used in the web design.

Lessons Learned

The most obvious obstacle when designing for a mobile screen is the limited space available. This limitation drives designers to either compromise some content and accommodate to it. This can only be achieved by defining a hierarchy of importance to the content and which should be the most accessible in order to have a usable mobile experience. This indicates that each platform has its design needs and capacity which can be limiting but that doesn’t mean usability should be compromised.