Every year brings with it new trends. Companies research what worked for them and what didn’t. Others research on how it affected revenues and overall direction that businesses are inclining to. This gives rise to various trends and predictions about how the next year is going to be, which allows the marketers to plan ahead and stay ahead of the competition.
In a similar fashion, it was predicted for 2015 that by the end of the year customer, not the business, will take the center stage for all business and marketing activities, which happened.
Accordingly, it has been a unanimous voice of all ecommerce experts that this trend will take even a bigger space in online industry and almost all activities will revolve around customer engagement, the likes and dislikes of the customer, and how he/she interacts with your brand. Anything that is not in line with the customer’s style of shopping will wash away, and hyper-personalization will rise up as the thumb rule of running an online business.
Since, most customers now prefer shopping through their mobile apps, design of the app will also gain importance and will greatly affect how customers perceive and identify with your brand, and if they’d like to keep your app installed in their smartphones to shop further. Hence, we have identified few mobile app design trends for ecommerce that might come in handy if you plan to rebrand your business through app.
App Design #1: Chat with friends while you shop
Ecommerce apps would have ‘chat with friends’ feature integrated within them, along with ‘live chat’ to talk to the representative of the business.
Reason: A lot of people find it difficult to choose between the two colours of the same dress. Sometimes, they just need an outside opinion. Often, such dilemmas lead to shopping cart abandonment. In the real world, there are friends and family to help decide the shopper what to buy. Online they can use past customer reviews. However, sometimes even reviews don’t help.
Last year, companies like YepMe gave customers the option of “trying before buying” so that people can be satisfied with their choice before purchase. However, this is not possible with products other than lifestyle goods, such as electronics or gift items. To mitigate such confusions and increase conversion rates, ecommerce apps will need to include a feature to discuss their options with friends and take their help in making the final purchase.
Use Case: Flipkart is keeping a tab on the pulse of customers and fulfilling what they might need in future. As a result, they are managing to stay on the forefront of ecommerce in India. below is how their chat feature, Ping, works:
Below you can see the data provided by Flipkart on products that were most shared on Ping and discussed before buying. It gives a glimpse of which ecommerce can most benefit from this feature and how much revenue they can generate.
App Design #2: One-Color Dominance
From the hardcore-design perspective, 2015 has remained the year of colorful apps, with different elements being different colors and thus, giving a feel of spring all through the year. Also, flat design remained the favorite of all app UI designers.
However, a change in calendar has also brought a change in the design aesthetics.
Reason: Designers are now preferring a combination of flat design and material design. They are keeping one color dominant with only important CTAs being in contrasting colors. In 2016, we’ll see more websites using one color heavily. This will put more emphasis on the products, rather than the design of the app while making the app more memorable, as people will begin to associate colors with the apps.
Use Case: Below is the example of Flatzapp, using Tropicana Cabana as their theme color and an orange palette to differentiate between other important elements.
The following app is even more focused on its color theme using only blue to design its interface.
App Design #3: Voice Commerce
Like we said, convenience of the customer will continue to remain central in the overall shopping journey. Hence, voice search is one feature that will help people shop even when they are driving. As of now, voice search has been implemented in ecommerce apps, but the way we see this feature being used, it would not come as a surprise if voice commands will be used for navigating through the website and even place an order!
Reason: The primary reason this feature will become crucial is convenience — it is easier to talk than type, especially when you are carrying things in your hands or waiting at a traffic light. Plus, there are no chances of making spelling mistakes and landing up on a 404 page. Voice search is faster due to complete elimination of manual data entry.
Another area where voice commerce can help is collecting reviews after the purchase. Typing in a big review is what makes people shy away from sending one even when they want to review the product. Having a voice feature to add reviews will enable more customers to submit their experience of using the product as well as your service.
Use Case: Shopping app of Nordstrom is already using voice commands to help their customers navigate through the app easily.
App Design #4: Visual Search
Image search technology is one exciting trend coming to ecommerce. Though the feature isn’t new, as it had been used by Zappos in 2009; with ecommerce apps, the feature has gained a new life.
Reason: Today’s consumers are increasingly demanding more accessibility from their favorite brands and their shopping apps. Even brands are focusing on accessibility as an imperative service so that shopping-on-the-go isn’t the last minute option, but a routine thing.
Just like voice search, there is more convenience. In fact, visual search has an incredible advantage over keyword-based search. Because even in a voice navigation one needs to know what they are looking for and how to best describe it. What if the person wants to buy something, but doesn’t know how to describe it in the best possible words? This would leave him lost on your app.
Visual search does not depend on user’s ability to describe the item. All one needs to do is click the picture of the product they want and upload it on the app to look for similar products. And don’t we all say that a picture is worth a thousand words?
Use Case: Below is how such a search can be used. You spot a product, snap it and buy it. Quick and easy!
Another beautiful aspect of incorporating this feature is creative merchandising. What we have now is one product per page with its different views. This way, an average customer is not able to discern if this product would match his other selections. If the products are being displayed as a big picture matching one with another, where every product is added to the cart with one tap on it, people can see what suits them and can even end up buying all products present in that picture.
Have a look at the example of using creative merchandising in mobile apps through visual search.
App Design #5: Multiple-purpose Scrolling
Taking in account the way people use their smartphones and how their hands work their way on the touch screens, ecommerce apps can make use of the different kinds of swipes that customers’ hands are used to. This will enable a smooth browsing experience.
Reason: The reason here is again accessibility to the desired products and actions. Take the following example of Voonik, an aggregator fashion ecommerce app, which makes proper use of the swiping habit of customers to its full potential and advantage. Consider Carousel ads as a successful test experiment of customers using swipes and gestures to view things in present in a series.
2016 will come across as the year of more such customizations and using customers’ app usage insights.
Use Case: Previously, Mailbox app tried to use various thumb gestures to perform various functions.
The same functionality has been used in news apps, like News in Shorts, to make the experience of news reading more intuitive and less cumbersome.
The process of scrolling, be it horizontal or vertical, and swiping is some of those gestures that come to a user naturally as soon as he buys a touchscreen phone and then go on to become his habits.
Apps like Voonik are just making optimum use of that habitual process to club customers’ gestures into various actions they can perform at a certain stage of shopping.
A word of caution here: Just make the changes in the app iteratively. Watch how changing one element is affecting your customer’s interaction with the app. Has he noticed the change? Is he enjoying it?
Have you noticed that Facebook has made more than 50 versions of their Messenger app alone? They did not just change all the user interface at once. Such abrupt changes may offend the user and throw him into a shock. So, go for multiple iterations, monitor the shifts in customer engagement, and plan the next move accordingly.
Download an interesting research on what works (and what doesn’t) in email marketing for ecommerce by TargetingMantra.