How to fix your eCommerce site (even the big players muck this up)
Plus: The Top 10 Brand Experience Trends in 2023
Happy Summer Solstice, wherever you happen to be on this glorious planet.
Today, let’s get into the UX of your Homepage and Category structure. Apparently, 219 eCommerce and online brands just don’t cut it when it comes to site usability. And yeah, these companies have plenty of resources, so what’s their excuse?
But before we dive in, a quick rundown on some interesting news and perspectives.
Fringe Tech & Perspectives
Are you mentally ready for AI to change you?
I’ve often thought about how AI and VR headsets could cause a crisis of imagination within humanity. Not being able to come up with creative ideas means we could become more dependent on AI to solve our problems. In the short term: cool! In the long run: devastating.
Michael Graziano, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Princeton University, says he thinks AI could create a “post-truth world.” He says it will likely make it significantly easier to convince people of false narratives, which will be disruptive in many ways.
But it’s not all bad…
Graziano also wonders if AI could help us with the loneliness epidemic, which is a big strain on mental health. Perhaps people will think of AI as a friend? But what happens then? We don’t yet know, Graziano says.
Man or machine?
I once asked a friend of mine, who loved to go camping around the Seattle area, if he was concerned about bears or mountain lions. He quipped, “It’s not the four-legged animals that concern me.”
People are rightly concerned about the machines taking over, but the real culprit were the humans behind the machine that launched Skynet. Scott Galloway with a nice breakdown of techno-narcissism.
If you are a semifamous computer engineer who aspires to be more famous, nothing beats telling every reporter in earshot: “I’ve invented something that could destroy the world.”
Home Shopping Network meets YouTube
YouTube’s first ever shopping channel is launching in Korea. Social Commerce and live streaming was always a thing on that side of the world. This influencer sold over $1.7 BILLION in goods (Dr. Evil pinky finger) in a 12 hour span.
YouTube is hoping that this kind of thing spreads to the west. It’s really just a matter of time.
Virtual Try-On with Google
The new fitting room is here, and it’s virtual. Google is going all out with this one and it’s a game-changer for eCommerce retail brands.
You should feel just as confident shopping for clothes online. So today we’re introducing two new features that bring this fitting room experience to you: Virtual try-on for apparel uses generative AI to show you clothes on a wide selection of real models, while new filters help you find exactly what you’re looking for.
Something for everyone
Customers can now select a model to virtually try on clothes from popular brands such as H&M, Loft, Everlane, and Anthropologie. More brands to follow.
Brand Experience: The Top 10 Trends in 2023
From AnyRoad, they pulled the data and found 10 trends to pay attention to.
The key, as always, is how well you create emotional experiences or touchpoints for your market & customers.
Trend 10: Sustainability + DEI
People want what they want, and part of that is buying with their values. Given a choice between two brands, people are willing to pay more for sustainable products—particularly younger people.
Notice Google’s virtual try-on appeals to every skin color. And Patagonia, ever the gold standard when it comes to purpose-driven businesses, brought many companies along on the sustainable practices bandwagon.
Trend 8: AI + Machine Learning
Trend 7: Staffing Shortages
This was a big problem with physical stores and restaurants post-ish pandemic, but continues to plague owners.
Current response to “help wanted” signs
Trend 3: Trusted Two-Way Value
This is a big one. Your relationship with customers has to change. From this article:
A survey out today of 1,000 agency and marketing execs shows a majority believe user tracking will soon become obsolete, but only 40% are familiar with non-cookie based options.
That cookie-less future is coming. It’s inevitable.
UX woes and broken experiences
Baymard ranked 219 of the TOP eCommerce sites in the world. And TL;DR:
Just 3 of those sites qualify as “good” enough
51 are “decent”
104 are “mediocre”
49 are poor
And 12 are just plain “broken”
Don’t be one of them. But it’s hard, right? We get inspiration from each other, we follow one another, and we end up looking like each other. The only problem is, the big players are getting it wrong, too.
The Office cast saw that website
One thing you MUST get right: your Homepage and Category Navigation. Baymard has identified the 12 most common pitfalls.
If you don’t read anything else in this newsletter, please read that.
Under the de-fluence
In the movie Unbreakable, Mr. Glass, appropriately named because his bones break so easily, believes he has an opposite in the world: someone who’s bones never break. His search for this person creates a lot of mayhem in the process—but he eventually finds him.
Well, influencers, you have finally found your opposite: defluencers. They encourage people to NOT buy things and to be generally smarter about what they do buy.
Defluencers to Influencers: “You complete me”
Amidst all the ads and influencers on social media telling us what to buy, there’s a new breed on the rise sending a totally different message: what we shouldn’t buy. And they call themselves the ‘de-influencers.’
You can’t make this stuff up.
Do you have a customer-centric business model?
I suppose when Bezos said Amazon “strives to be Earth's most customer-centric company”, maybe people didn’t think he meant it. But that he did, and, well, he left a trillion dollar company in his wake.
In case you don’t know the benefits of having a customer-centric business model, here’s a reminder.
But it really comes down to one thing: what does it mean to really put the customer at the heart of everything you do for your business?
The answer to that will probably solve a lot of challenges in your current business.
How top brands deliver personalized retail experiences
I’ll give you a hint. It’s about collecting customer data, and then using that data responsibly to inform future interactions with them.
And it seems people are more than willing to part with their valuable data in order to get these personalized experiences in return.
Uh, someone’s wrong
Read more about it here.
Let’s (small) talk
Seems that the pandemic made everyone cave people again. Grunting and nodding their way through small talk.
Count small talk among one of the many things we forgot how to do during the Covid-19 pandemic. In April 2023, as many companies were calling workers back into the office, Google searches for “what to talk about at work” grew.
Ask, “How was your day?” and then shut up.
Want to see a really good DTC channel on YouTube? Hoka TV has got the goods. They do great with branded content (for building awareness) and product marketing (for sales).
Their latest ad speaks to their promise of wearing shoes that make you feel like you’re floating… or flying:
And I really love the branded content side. This is the stuff that builds a relationship with your audience, like this:
My mother has bipolar, so this resonates. It doesn’t take much to connect with others, but every brand must still make the effort. All brands need to connect on a human level, if they want to reach more people.
Find something to be grateful for.
Until next time.