Most luxury item consumers shop online to save time or avoid crowds. Designing an online shopping site presents unique challenges that may not be evident in other types of web design.
There are several web development aspects, which can influence the success of an online luxury-shopping site. Below is an overview of some of the top luxury e-commerce websites and what they do right.
- 1. Net-a-Porter
- 2. Mr Porter
- 3. Gilt
- 4. Zappos Luxury
- 5. Yoox
- 6. MyTheresa
- 7. Moda Operandi
- 8. Luisaviaroma
- 9. Bergdorf Goodman
- 10. Barneys
- 11. Nordstrom
- 12. Neiman Marcus
- 13. Saks Fifth Avenue
- 14. Selfridges
- 15. Bloomingdales
- 16. Amuze
- 17. Sephora
- 18. Forzieri
- 19. Ssense
- 20. Revolve
- 21. Matches Fashion
- 22. The Outnet
- 23. StyleBop
- 24. BrookLinen
- 25. The Corner
- 26. World’s Best
- 27. Rent the Runway
- 28. Rue Lala
- 29. Shopbop
- 30. Farfetch
The Net-a-Porter website is a perfect example of how to incorporate multimedia content into an online shopping site. The high quality pictures on the site capture the aspects that relate to its purpose, which is to sell luxury brands.
The emphasis of on top-notch fashion photography offers the website a luxurious “look and feel.” Customers can evaluate whether an item is what they want to buy. Also, the pictures used on the website do not make consumers have unrealistic expectations about the products.
Successfully incorporating video content into an e-commerce website is never and easy task. Nonetheless, the website developers who manage to make it a major component of the site win big. Mr Porter features relevant video recommendations on their homepage that are related to the items they sell.
Doing so engages and entertains their audience, offers the site a personality, and encourages future visits to the site. This facilitates an increase in interested visitors and therefore, more opportunities to convert them.
Elegant Color Scheme
One of the most important components of an appealing luxury online shopping site is its immediate appearance. The color scheme and combinations of choice contribute greatly to the initial appeal of any website.
Gilt gets this right by incorporating plain and simple colors. The black, white, and orange are used consistently throughout the site, each for different
sections and purposes. These aspects reflect the site’s simple but elegant appearance in a general first glance overview.
When it comes to online shopping site design, less is always more. The homepage of the Zappos Luxury website has only two sections; the products and the company information section. By reducing the website elements to the basic essentials, they benefit in several ways.
The website is very responsive with incredibly fast load speeds. It helps users focus on content (actual products on offer), and the white spaces help the website “breathe” and make navigation easier. All these aspects contribute to a great user experience.
The best luxury online shopping sites must have a navigation system that makes it easy for shoppers to access information around the site. This is among the first thing you will notice about the navigation system in the Yoox site.
Labels and buttons support navigation in and around the site. In addition, they are placed in proximity to their related data fields. This encourages users to dive deeper into the website, all while being able to return to the home page at any stage.
In a world of increasing cyber-attacks, online shoppers need to be assured that their personal information and credentials are safe. MyTheresa enforces technical measures to protect their website against unauthorized access and damages.
It utilizes a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) connection for safe transmission of client credit card and account information. Their preferred Visa and MasterCard payment options employ 3D secure programs. These programs ensure that only MyTheresa and registered card holders are involved in transactions.
The end goal of any e-commerce site is to convert web users into paying customers. A luxury online shopping site must ensure that it encourages visitors to shop without coming off as too aggressive. The best way to do this is through the call-to-action (CTA).
Moda Operandi employs the simple, concise and familiar “Shop Now” CTA. This CTA appears in all product section and serves a navigation element directing user towards the catalogs without sounding too salesy.
Promoting Related Products
Showing related product can help make a sale since many luxury item customers are searching for different items, designs, colors, or materials. Luisaviaroma gets this one right by promoting related items that customers might be interested in.
They use a smart approach where they conveniently place them side by side on their homepage and product pages. The site also offers suggestions after adding an item to the shopping cart.
Effective Site-Wide Search
Some customers will have trouble finding certain products, even if a site has a great navigation system. Sometimes it is more feasible to simply conduct a search than to browse through layers of links. This becomes more apparent with large e-commerce sites such as Bergdorf Goodman.
With an impressively wide range of luxury products, the Bergdorf Goodman site does well to provide effective search functionality. It also offers options to narrow down the search such as Alphabetical, brand, and designer search.
Social Media Integration
Luxury eCommerce sites that connect with their customers on a personal level create trust and advocacy. Social media integration is one of the best ways to provide social proof. Linking social profiles is a must have feature for any eCommerce site.
Barneys does a good job with a simple homepage that highlights their Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snap Chat, and YouTube accounts. The links are not hidden amid a ton of information. As such, a user’s attention is directed towards them at first glance.
Showcasing Popular Products
Nordstrom makes an effort to highlight the luxury products that are most likely to interest visitors. The intention of this tactic is to help them find something they will want to purchase.
Nordstrom uses a significant part of their homepage to promote new item lines, current sales, and product that generate interest. They have also included a slideshow that they update regularly.
The value of simplicity is often overlooked when it comes to web design. Many developers make the mistake of trying to pack too many elements on a website. The Neiman Marcus website goes for a simple look that is easy to scan.
The focus of any e-commerce site must be on the items available for purchase. This site avoids any extravagant design elements that draw attention away from the products. It does this while still managing to feel professional.
Having clear policies is vital for a successful online business. They help protect the customers and the merchant. For instance, having a clear shipping policy invokes confidence in customers that a merchant has a reliable system in place.
Saks Fifth Avenue’s website helps foster confidence and reliability by including clear policies. These policies encompass all aspects of the interaction between them and the buyers, including the return, shipping, privacy, security, exchanges, warranty, order status, international and tracking policies.
Multi-Touchpoint Contact Page
Purchasing a product from a luxury online shopping site requires that customers take a leap of faith with regards to product quality and service a merchant offers. As such, they need to be able to reach out to the merchant at any time and through different channels.
Self-ridges considers their contact page a feature of their website. The page is detailed with step-by-step guides on how to contact them through different avenues email, telephone, regular mail, social media profiles, online forms, and messaging.
Frequently Asked Questions
Online Luxury item purchases need confidence with the merchant. Buyers need confirmation of item authenticity and detailed information to feel comfortable with the high-value purchases.
The Bloomingdales website features a very comprehensive FAQ section. It covers all possible questions that a luxury item buyer might have regarding the products. It also offers a self-help section that addresses common buyer problems.
Payment Option Variety
A wide range of payment options is necessary for a luxury online shopping site. There are different types of online shoppers, and they will prefer different payment options.
An eCommerce site should implement payment solutions that cover all the options. Amuze has online shoppers cover with a system that caters to all
major options including Visa, PayPal, MasterCard, American Express, Amazon Pay, Discover, JCB, Android Pay, Apple Pay, and more.
Not all eCommerce sites have physical stores. However, those that do, like Sephora, benefit greatly from having a find-in-store feature. Sometimes shoppers do not want to wait for items to ship.
They go online to research and then purchase in person. Sephora features a useful section where customers can view what is in stock at their nearest storefront.
About Us Section
Luxury item shoppers will be more comfortable dealing with a seller that they know more about. Forzieri makes a good point of introducing themselves in their “Who We Are” section situated at the top of their homepage. It describes the history, philosophy, unique selling point, and mission statement of the brand, making it more personable.
Ssense is a unique online luxury shopping site. It stands out from the rest in terms of the relevant, engaging, and entertaining content it provides alongside the shopping experience.
The site features blog posts, guest posts, and editorials, which provide valuable information regarding topics related to the products. This strategy helps keep visitors on the site long enough for them to convert.
Over the years, web users have become familiar with certain web design conventions. Revolve’s website avoids the temptation to throw out these design conventions to be unique.
The main navigation is a top left side of a page. The logo is at the top left and clickable to go back to the homepage. The links also change color when a user hovers over them. Sticking to the familiar always offers provides a great user experience.
Wish Lists are an essential component of an online shopping site. Not using a wish list is leaving revenue on the table. Matches Fashion seems to understand this.
The site lets customers bookmark products that they want and would buy in the future. It is a great re-marketing campaign. These individualized options drive user engagement and traffic when customers share their wish lists online.
An online shopping site can have a great simple, user-friendly design without sacrificing elegance. Ease of Use is the most important quality of a website.
The Outnet achieves this by helping buyers get to what they want quickly and without bumping into unnecessary complexity. The website’s shopping categories are placed at the top center of the homepage, ensuring that the customer’s path to purchase is unclogged.
Visual hierarchy is closely tied to the simplicity principles. It involves organizing website elements such that users naturally gravitate towards the critical elements first. StyleBop does this perfectly by leading visitors towards their CTAs but in a way that feels enjoyable and natural.
Their CTAs sit atop the site’s visual hierarchy. They are the only elements embedded against a black background with white borders. This naturally draws a user’s attention.
Reviews and Testimonials
Online shoppers always read reviews. Reviews and testimonials are powerful influencers of purchasing decisions.
Depending on the functionality of the website, an eCommerce site can utilize plugins from various review platforms such as Foursquare or Yelp. BrookLinen has a forward-thinking approach that employs reviews and user-generated testimonials to drive social proof and build trust with their consumer base.
Mobile and Browser Friendly
Mobile shopping accounts for half of the online transactions. Creating a mobile optimized eCommerce site is a necessity as more people access the Internet via mobile. The Corner has a responsive and fast website, whose content intuitively adapts to different devices accessing it.
In addition, their mobile website offers the same user experience as the desktop version. The Corner’s website is also accessible via all significant web browsers and functions fine on older browser versions.
Well-Crafted Web Copy
Just like product photography, professionally written content on a luxury online shopping site is a must. This is not just for the SEO purposes.
The World’s Best site has a solid and well-written web copy that helps produce a seamless voice’ from the homepage to the deeper pages of the website. The product descriptions are highly marketable and accurate and convey a certain personality exuded by the brand.
When a web user visits a luxury online shopping site, they want to achieve one of two things. They want to access information regarding products or make a purchase on a specific item(s).
Rent The Runway does a good job of showing visitors where they need to go. The website’s guidance system comprises of simple navigation tools, well-organized information architecture, and concise CTAs.
How information is presented and organized on an online shopping site is vital for good usability. This is often neglected. The information architecture and layout of the Rue Lala website is very impressive.
Getting this right was crucial given the wide range of products that they catalog. The sections and categories are carefully planned. The information on the website is presented in a manner that is easy to understand.
Special Offers Section
The majority of e-commerce websites are utilizing special offers as a standard marketing practice. Shopbop employs this advertising tactic perfectly to drive more sales. The Shopbop website takes full advantage of the valuable real estate in the page’s header section to market special offers. It also does this in their email list sign up form to encourage more subscriptions.
Fast Load Times
For an e-commerce website, web pages that load quickly are a necessity as web users are notoriously impatient. Slow loading pages are subpar to luxury item customers’ expectations and will lead to high bounce rates.
Site speed draws many parallels with conversion ability. Farfetch has managed to create an e-commerce site that loads impressively fast on both mobile and desktop platforms. Part of this is due to the simplicity of their pages and minimal usage of graphical and multimedia elements.
By: Frank DePino
Frank DePino is Principal and Founder of Mediaboom. Since 2002, Frank has led Mediaboom’s award-winning staff of creative and technical professionals building the most effective marketing and advertising solutions for its clients.