Gone are the days when simply having a website was acceptable for retail companies. Back then, retail websites were for information and, if they were going to purchase, customers had a little bit more patience. Social commerce (purchasing from social media), mobile eCommerce, and online-only retailers like Amazon have raised customers expectations in terms of an eCommerce customer experience. 

Customers expect engaging interfaces, mobile friendly shopping from browsing to checkout, photos and videos, and the information they need all in a fast, intuitive experience. 

The companies that made creating an amazing eCommerce customer experience a priority reap the benefits and win customers ahead of the competition. 

Here are some examples of engaging, effective eCommerce customer experiences that meet expectations:

1. Westelm.com

West Elm maintains an amazing eCommerce customer experience despite originally being a brick and mortar store – which is rare. Usually these companies take a little longer to adapt. The experience touches on many of the things that are intuitive and important for customers online. It’s highly visual, easy to navigate, and they consistently present customers with new content and offers. By consistently presenting new content and offers visually and in intuitive places, they keep customers engaged and moving through the site to discover things they like, dropping bounce rate and boosting conversions. 


  • Offers as navigation: Within the navigation of the site, there are offers as a more exciting way to engage and direct users to explore more of the site.
  • Intuitive, visual filtering: Customers should easily be able to drill down to a specific product intuitively through your navigation or search. The levels should mirror the buying process whether that’s by “style” or “type”, etc.
  • Social feed-like imagery: Imagery on your site should mirror how many eCommerce customers are used to finding and exploring products – social media. Images should be large, in multiples, able to be zoomed in, and easily browsed through.

2. Brooklinen.com

eCommerce-only brand Brooklinen took something simple, sheets and pillows, and turned it into a personalized and fun online shopping experience through their site design. Their site takes you through a personalized purchasing process for each product with variations to choose from at each step. On top of that, they learn from Amazon and provide tons of social proof throughout the purchasing process. 


  • Reviews and ratings clearly presented throughout the shopping experience
  • Step-by-stop, intuitive product selection process

3. Thelipbar.com

A newcomer in cosmetics, The Lip Bar started online and is now moving into stores with their eCommerce game carrying them to new heights. The company started as a ‘Shark Tank’ reject and came back with a vengeance in the form of eCommerce, branding, and social commerce knowledge that they apply to their online experience for success. Their site is highly branded from the start and reflects their social media where they drive so much of their traffic and loyal customers from. The experience, is clean, product-photo focused, with a really intuitive checkout system. It’s like scrolling through a social feed which works because Lip Bar knows their customers. They include social proof, comments, and ratings throughout. They also include branded tutorial videos, utilizing the popularity of beauty YouTube. 


  • An online tool to help customers shop that personalizes the experience. The Lipbar created Shade Finder to help customers find the perfect shade with a few questions. 
  • Engaging video tutorials and social media examples photos of products in use.

4. Wayfair.com

Wayfair has completely transformed how we shop for furniture. They’ve taken incredibly advantage of social media and its impact on the home industry as well as eCommerce SEO, driving traffic consistently to their online-only storefront that converts very well. They’ve essentially created an Amazon-style site for the home industry. With so many products to present, their filtering and navigation is really well organized and easy. They present ratings clearly on all product previews like Amazon so customers can be better informed while browsing. Their “quick view” presents all the necessary information to click “add to cart” as well as shows clear product photos – making shopping and continuing to browse possible. Their product suggestions and pairings take precedent, keeping customers exploring the large selection. 


  • Organized navigation and filtering
  • Personalized product suggestions and comparisons

5. Zara.com

Despite massive brick and mortar success, Zara has been working diligently to improve their online store to increase online sales. And it’s worked, their online sales have jumped over 40% over the last few years and represent a growing portion of overall revenue. They know they need to complete with all-online fast fashion that is winning customers on social media. Zara.com is as well designed as the store. It’s highly visual, including video clips to mimic a social feed. The focus even for the browsing experience is very large product photos so customers can really experience them. The product selection process is minimalistic – two clicks and it’s in your cart. Additionally, shoppers are met with two large photo “feeds” of recommended items below each product page. 


  • Large, high quality product images 
  • Recommendation feeds 

6. Fashionnova.com

One of the online-only retailers that has completely taken social media by storm is Fashion Nova. What they’ve been able to do by leveraging influencers online has been incredible. Their online customer experience supports that by engaging and converting. A lot of what they’ve done inspires other smaller online boutiques. Fashion Nova has taken social proof, social media styled photography, and User Generated Content and integrated it very well into their shopping experience to appeal to their end customers in a way not many other eCommerce experiences do. The shopping experience from social media to the website is seamless. 


  • Image-based navigation
  • Trending products specific to customers based on past behavior and location

7. Sephora.com

Sephora, successful in their physical locations, took the experience online to compete with online makeup boutiques that were winning customers via YouTube and Instagram. They’ve made shopping online at Sephora a time and money saving process with a really simple shopping experience and discounts readily available. They are personalization-heavy with product recommendations based on users’ behavior. They know their customers very well and include social proof along with the products displayed in “looks” in the form of user generated content from real customers on social media and in fashion. Riding the YouTube beauty wave, they include videos related to each product to keep customers engaged. 


  • Social proof throughout the shopping experience in the form of customer reviews, ratings, and photos
  • Social media and video content

8. Apple.com

Apple’s brick and mortar and product design style has always won them major points. They’ve managed to bring their signature simplicity, usability, and branding to their eCommerce experience as well. Apple accounts for 10-15% of all electronics and media net eCommerce sales in the United States. Apple’s eCommerce customer experience mimics one of their minimalistic interfaces with a discreet top bar navigation and browsing driven by high quality images. The purchasing process is app-like with clear buttons, icons, and intuitive functionality. They know their customers’ buying process well and include a “compare” functionality to be able to line up various products to make decision making easier. The product selection process is intuitively guided and makes shopping online an experience like in one of their stores. 


  • App-like navigation
  • Compare tool to compare latest products by features, price, etc. 

9. Hawthorne.co

Hawthorne takes aim at traditional ways of selling men’s cologne and brings the entire process online in a very personalized, fun way. As soon as you enter the site, you’re presented with a quiz on your lifestyle that brings you suggestions on which products are a fit for you. What’s interesting is there is little other action you can take to get to products aside from clicking to gift something or take the quiz yourself to continue shopping. By doing this, they collect information on customers, including their email, and can completely personalize the shopping experience from there. It also introduces them to the brand and process and gets them familiar with the purpose of the products. Once you get your product recommendations, you can order them in sets for bath, body, hair care, etc. and order them one time or sign up for a subscription where they are “replenished”.  The product images are large and make the brand look very cohesive. You can also select to just purchase individual products instead of sets. Beyond this, they consistently contact customers with new personalized suggestions and new collections. Their success is really in the tailored online experience. 


  • Personalization quiz
  • Personalized recommendations and a variety of purchasing options and suggested quantities

As eCommerce storefronts become the new “main” method of selling, we will see more and more brick and mortar stores step it up and more underdog small eCommerce companies surpass even bigger companies with better customer experiences. It really comes down to an ability to engage customers, know what they’re looking for, streamlining decision making, and making taking action as easy as possible. These sites really keep this priority throughout their customer experience. 

A great way to boost customer engagement no matter where customers come in through your site is Beamer

Beamer is a newsfeed and notification center that opens discreetly on any page in your site when users click on “What’s New” in your navigation. You can share new products, offers, sales, and company news in the form of enticing updates. You can add photos, videos, GIFs, etc. to your Beamer updates. You can segment the updates users see on their feed by demographic, location, language, and past behavior on your site. You can also use Beamer to send out push notifications when you announce new products, etc. to re-engage customers. Try Beamer on your site to effortlessly boost engagement.