Being an owner of an independent retail business carries a huge range of emotions: self-fulfilment, pride and excitement, but also with that comes an equal amount of stress. How do I make people aware of my products? How do I process payroll? Do I need a website and, if so, how do I do it? With 87% of U.K consumers making a purchase online in the past 12 months, having an eCommerce-ready website is a no-brainer – cue stress! So we thought we’d try and help you out by rounding-up 7 brilliant eCommerce sites that tick off many of the aspects of a great online store: clean, easy to navigate and excellent showcases of their brand. Then, we’ve approached the lovely people behind these websites and asked for their number one tip web design tips!
Weave Womenswear, established in 2015, have successfully incorporated many of the qualities a good website needs. The site exemplifies the brand’s flattering and trendy designs, adding a full customer experience to online buying. We spoke to Caroline, owner of the beautiful Scandinavian-inspired clothes, shoes and accessories store, who gave us her number one tip on launching a retail website:
“Use Shopify! It’s very easy to create your website through the platform as they provide templates and once you get the hang of it, it’s so user-friendly!”
The award-winning boutique Five Six Blue has the accolades to prove they’re doing it right. Their website clearly showcases their beautiful clothes & accessories, their accomplishments and clear routes to purchase. Helen, founder of Five Six Blue advises:
“It’s important to build a website as if you were a customer. Everything around it should be done from the customer’s perspective. It’s so important for a business to keep the site simple, clean and fresh.”
Heir & Grace’s website really embodies the luxuriousness of the brand. Having each candle personally checked by the candlemaker and given their mark of approval is an added personal touch for every customer. The website’s descriptions clearly describe each candle, giving a sense of what you can expect from your order. Mark, owner of Heir & Grace, shares his advice on building an eCommerce site:
“The most important thing I find small businesses get wrong is to think that customers care about all of the things they care about; to think that every detail, feature and benefit is important and to think that customers make decisions on rational reasons more than emotional.
My main piece of advice is to work out what you stand for (at an emotional level, not a product feature level) and say that one thing clearly and consistently. Less is more – big brands say one thing well, whereas small brands often list many features as they are unwilling to keep things simple.”
Peakcraft is a family-run business dedicated to tradition, bespoke craftsmanship and first-class expertise. Their website is clear to follow and easy for the customer to navigate. Mark, who started the joinery, carpentry and fitted furniture business shared his thoughts:
“We wanted our website to have a simple design to showcase the site’s 3 main elements: Bespoke Joinery, Fitted Furniture and Displays & Exhibitions.
We’re always improving and updating; working off feedback from our customers too.”
Hampshire Furniture can proudly boast of offering the finest quality materials for their products. Having a small, friendly team means their customer service is impeccable and each item is made to the best standards. We spoke to Frauke, owner of Hampshire Furniture, who said:
“It can be hard, but keeping up with all the latest changes is vital to keeping your website and ultimately your business alive. Goal posts continue to change all the time and you need to give your website and other aspects of your business some priority. It’s a way to stay interactive with customers but we’re always constantly trying to figure out what’s the latest trend!”
The beautiful swimwear listed on Monaco Beach is accompanied by a simple layout that draws a customer’s attention to the products. Catherine, the business owner, has created a feminine feel to complement the elegant and womanly designs of her swimwear. Her number one web design tip is:
“We built our own website by using popular templates because as a start-up we obviously don’t have a huge amount of capital to spend on someone else building the site for us. This is specifically important when you aren’t sure, in the early days, what you want – you may want to change direction. In the future, we can upgrade to a more expensive site. The cost can be less when paying a rental rather than having a website built too!”
One key concern is that products can be tough to sell online and showcasing them in the right way can be a huge challenge. Bridget Chetwynd has done a great job in making her website simple enough to manoeuvre, while also complimenting her artwork so that it stands out and doesn’t get swamped by the rest of the site’s content. Here she gives her #1 tip for attracting people onto her site:
“Use Social Media, Facebook, Twitter and your blog to connect with like-minded readers and involve them in community charity events that your company fundraises for, e.g. Bee & Tea’s annual fundraising tea for the Refugee Women’s Association”