September marks the beginning of a race that ends on 12.25. After 12 years as an Internet marketer, over $30M in online sales and more than 500,000 transactions I look at ecommerce sites differently. I look for how heros, largest image on the page, balance offers against navigation and search. Here are my favorite 6 E-commerce sites for 2012:
Pros. Consistently great the Internet marketing team behind my favorite ecommerce website knows how to point their hero's eyes at Calls To Action, keep their palette clean but full of eye candy. The engagement factor is very high. REI's images always make you feel like you want to join that party in that place now please.
I copy this clean Einstein-smart designs all the time and I am not alone. This is one of those rare sites that don’t need people. The products can be the hero here since we project ourselves right into their heroes using those cool superhero tools.
Different feel than REI even though they are plowing some of that same, "Life is an adventure," field. If REI is about the magic of the tribe Patagonia is about the magic of the place. Magical design that isn't really designed to SELL, it breaks every e-commerce rule, but boy does it.
4. DWR (Design Within Reach)
The furniture category has strong players and may be a six of one, half a dozen of the other between DWR, Crate and Barrel and others. This category can quickly all look alike. I like DWR.com's clean lines. They keep it simple but are creative with social, campaigns and offers too.
Women's apparel can start to all look alike fast too. I like Vestique's use of their target audience (young women) engaged in almost candid moments. The design is clean, social and engaging. This is a case of the design pointing the way to social. The site makes you want to be part of the club, a very important idea for a fashion site. Eileen Allen and her design team at Atlantic BT did a great job on Vestique and it was supported with some great behind the curtain major functionality in Magento too.
Daily deal sites seem to be losing some luster, but Woot.com has some of the best copy and its tribe is loyal enough to get up in the middle of the night and check their deals. This rabid loyalty is something you EARN by being great. Every Woot.com element works.