5 Brands with Innovative Ecommerce Strategies

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It’s no secret: ecommerce is a multi-billion dollar industry that’s on fire. To be sure, total ecommerce sales are expected to reach $427 billion this fall.

So, what sets the best brands in the biz apart from the masses? It’s simple really. The best brands are the ones constantly evolving to stay ahead of the pack—the ones pushing boundaries and testing limits. These are the trailblazers.

Here to provide you some inspiration from the best designs in the industry, let’s take a look at five brands that are now breaking through the world of ecommerce.

1. Wayfair Inc.

This home goods retailer has minimal inventory and no physical stores. Nonetheless, in 2015, it managed to become the largest online-only furniture company in the U.S., grossing $2.25 billion in revenue that year. The secret to the brand’s success?—it’s been looking to the future since day one.

Niraj Shah, CEO and co-founder of Wayfair, knew that furniture wouldn’t have a strong foothold in ecommerce sales—not at first anyhow. Shah and his partners predicted  that shoppers would probably start with small purchases, such as books or DVDs. But eventually, they’d get more comfortable. They’d start buying more “considered” purchases, like home appliances and furniture. And they have. 

Wayfair’s founders also knew that they’d have to wait for their demographics to mature. After all, most people don’t worry too much about buying products for the home until they hit their 30s. But as time goes on, online shoppers are getting older, and sure enough, demographics are shifting too.

In order to keep up with today’s rapidly expanding customer base, Wayfair’s design team prides itself on collaboration and delegation. The design team has 11 different groups or “pods,” which handle extremely specialized aspects of the brand, including product design, UX, copy, engineering, and customer feedback. But at the core of their website design is a strong consumer advocacy element.

Knowing that purchases made on the site are long-term decisions for the consumer, Wayfair collects up to 100 pieces of factual information on every single product offered through the site. Additionally, the site uses tons of crisp visuals, including color swatches and interior design inspirations, to help shoppers feel like they have real-life design studios on their screens. Progressive thinking and strong UX/UI design are what’s now propelling this furniture retailer to the front of the pack.

Wayfair Inc’s growth, as shown by Business Insider.

2. Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI)

Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) is an outdoor retailer, founded in 1923 by a group of climbers who wanted to make quality gear available to everyday outdoor enthusiasts. What makes this brand unique is that the company is a cooperative, and it’s worked hard to maintain this portion of its identity—both in retail stores and now, online. The hard work put forth by the company’s website development team has effectively modernized the brand online. The fruits of their labor: a user experience that is both collaborative and engaging.

Some of the REI’s strongest assets are the sales associates who double as in-store gear experts. These experts have now been given a place, and a voice, in digital storefront as well. Each product on the website comes with a detailed spec sheet, customer reviews, and an open Q&A section where shoppers can ask for direct feedback from the experts. These elements place the community aspect of the brand’s identity at the forefront its digital interface.

The site also features a plethora of community-built resources to help users explore hiking trails and backcountry ski destinations across the globe. These resources take users away from the retail site and immerse them in an interactive world of exploration and adventure. Truly one-of-a-kind features such as these unearth a commitment to consumers, as well as a passion for outdoor adventure.

The Hiking Project is one of REI’s impressive community-built resources.

3.  Simply Gum

Simply Gum, a vegan chewing gum brand, is a testament to the power of a strong digital marketing strategy to effectively launch a small business onto the global playing field.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017—also known as Amazon Prime Day—turned out to be one of the biggest and most important days in history for the small biz brand. On that day, Simply Gum saw a 1,371% increase in its sales. But not only did Prime Day skyrocket sales, it also generated an unprecedented amount of brand awareness and exposure.

True, partnering up played a crucial role in this digital marketing landslide.

But more importantly, this brand had the content in place to back up its leads and convert users into loyalists.

The beautiful simplicity of the brand’s website design immediately draws users in and speaks to the identity of the brand. No junk, no clutter, no fillers. Choosing to showcase wholesome ingredients and flavors—coffee beans, cinnamon sticks, and ginger root—is far more visually appealing than showing a bunch of packets of gum. Likewise, the cleanliness of the design further solidifies the brand’s identity and purpose.

The cleanliness and minimal aesthetic of the Simply Gum site enhance brand identity.

4. Nike 

One of the world’s leading sports and apparel retailers, Nike is a phenomenal example of a company that knows the importance of evolving a brand. The brand’s drive to wake consumers up in the digital age has led the creative team at Nike to be in constant pursuit of innovate web development.

Some of the latest changes in Nike’s web design are those that offer the best mobile-first UX in the industry. These design elements include grid layouts, simple navigation, storytelling, smart typography schemes, and of course, an ode to minimalism.

But perhaps the strongest testament to the success of the Nike brand is the power of their logo design. Subtle changes have been made to the logo throughout the years, ensuring that the swoosh always evolves right alongside the brand.

Nike’s mobile app designs make strong use of grid layouts and the brand’s trusted logo, as featured on Altavia

5. Apple

There’s no denying that Apple is one of the world’s most successful brands. With more than $215 billion in total revenue, Apple’s online sales hit $20 billion in 2014, and these numbers are still growing. Not surprisingly, analysts suspect that Apple will go on to lead the pack in ecommerce for years to come.

Throughout time Apple has been consistently faithful to its identity as a brand, as well as its commitment to consumers. Transparency, progressive thinking, and quality are three pillars of this retailer’s multi-platform brand. And these principals are consistently carried out in the company’s design, development, and marketing.

The brand always puts the product first and lets the visuals do the talking. It’s by evolving this concept to reflect the mission of the brand, that Apple has revolutionized UX web design and become one of the top ecommerce designs on the planet.

Apple Mac Pro’s innovate scroll animation revolutionizes UX design.

These five brands—Wayfair Inc., REI, Simply Gum, Nike, and Apple—all come with their own unique identities and skillsets, and they’re all breaking down barriers in their own right. So what are the ties that bind here? Put simply, there’s one element that separates revolutionaries from the masses. These brands are all natural-born leaders in the ecommerce realm because they’re independent thinkers—always looking to the future, and always looking to evolve.

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