eCommerce website design has come a long way since its birth in the 1990s.

To understand the evolution of eCommerce websites since then, we need to take a step back and do a quick review of how far we have come over the last thirty-odd years so that we can better appreciate where eCommerce is now and where it’s headed.

A Brief History of eCommerce

In the mid-1990s, online marketplaces started to emerge and gain momentum with the launch of websites like Amazon and eBay.

These platforms allowed individuals and businesses to sell goods directly to consumers online, which grew fairly swiftly in popularity.

Until the early 2000s, eCommerce experienced rapid growth, fueled by what later became known as the dot-com bubble.

This bubble burst in the early 2000s owing to the overvaluation of dot-com companies and various unsustainable business models.

Following this revision of the eCommerce marketplace, we witnessed a rise in social commerce and mobile shopping, with platforms like Facebook and Twitter starting to integrate eCommerce features to leverage their popularity for profit.

The introduction of smartphones facilitated a rise in mobile shopping apps, which made it easier for consumers to shop on the go.

Then, towards the late 2000s, online retailers and subscription services started to expand significantly, while in the mid-2010s, mobile commerce and omnichannel retail started to gain dominance.

This saw even more consumers using smartphones and tablets for online shopping and retailers focusing on omnichannel strategies, whereby they integrated their online and offline channels to provide a more seamless shopping experience.

During this time, a greater emphasis on personalisation and artificial intelligence led to eCommerce platforms implementing machine learning algorithms to personalise shopping experiences.

This led to product recommendations and targeted marketing campaigns as well as dynamic pricing strategies to maximise personalised impact.

In the 2020s, the COVID-19 pandemic created a massive and accelerated shift towards eCommerce thanks to lockdowns and social distancing measures, forcing many people to shop online.

This surge in demand for eCommerce has led to a thriving and highly competitive eCommerce ecosystem that exists today.

Just about every business needs to have an eCommerce component in order to remain competitive.

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How eCommerce Web Design Has Evolved

One of the greatest advancements in eCommerce has been its transformation through easy-to-use platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce, which have made it easy for anyone with an internet connection to start an online business.

While creating an aesthetically pleasing website is important, eCommerce platforms are now more equipped and incentivised to prioritise building an engaging user experience that encourages repeat business.

Today’s eCommerce websites invest a lot of effort into developing systems that constantly recommend additional products to customers. These custom web applications implement machine learning and AI tools to track customers’ preferences.

Aside from highly personalised recommendations, tactics like automated reminders about abandoned carts and targeted special offers are becoming increasingly common across eCommerce websites to draw customers in for further purchases.

All the while, there is a significant drive towards faster loading times and responsiveness.

Another key advancement in eCommerce sites is the streamlining of checkout processes to ensure users don’t leave before making a purchase.

Ultimately, the state of website design nowadays is all about prioritising the user experience to keep them engaged for longer.

Key Trends Shaping eCommerce Website Design in 2024

We’ve come a long way since the 1990s, with website designers pioneering a range of technologies and website trends that make it increasingly easier for customers to find what they’re looking for and for businesses to market products.

Let’s look at some of the trends defining the eCommerce website design industry in 2024.

Mobile-First Design

More people use their phones to conduct eCommerce transactions than any other device. It is estimated that at least 60% of all eCommerce purchases were made using mobile devices last year.

Therefore, eCommerce websites must be designed with mobiles in mind as a first priority.

Your website should be optimised for smaller screens with simplified navigation, larger buttons and easy-to-read text.

However, it’s not enough to ensure that your desktop-first eCommerce website is mobile-friendly. Rather, it needs to be designed with mobile devices in mind from the very beginning.

Mobile needs to be prioritised in the design right from the start to ensure a seamless experience for customers, no matter which mobile device they’re using.

A good mobile-first site will employ a responsive design to accommodate different-sized devices and implement fast loading times to minimise data usage.

Increased Personalisation

Personalisation and AI-driven recommendations are becoming increasingly important, especially since recent AI and machine learning advances have made these algorithms even more accurate and useful for customers.

Online stores can now tailor their offerings to individual customers based on the customer’s preferences, geographical location, browsing and purchase history.

This data allows eCommerce stores to predict customers’ wants and needs to determine what products they are most likely to be interested in next. 

This helps create a more engaging shopping experience for the customer, while also helping to drive sales because it suggests products that are most likely to be bought.

In addition, tools like chatbots and virtual assistants have become increasingly sophisticated thanks to large language models that allow for improved customer service, leading to greater customer satisfaction. AI chatbots can handle customer servicing enquiries with increasing accuracy and detail.

When combined with the ability of AI to analyse vast amounts of data and use it to optimise everything from pricing to inventory management, eCommerce sites become formidable competitors in the market.

They are able to make even faster, smarter decisions to stay ahead of the competition and remain profitable.

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Immersive Experiences

As virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies advance, eCommerce website design faces the opportunity to allow customers to interact with their products virtually before making a purchase.

To some degree, this has been done before in features like virtual showrooms, where users can click their way through a 3D rendition of a space and toy with 3D renders of products.

However, the future sees this becoming way more immersive through the use of highly advanced VR and AR headsets.

Although many of these technologies are still in their early stages, many signs point towards a potential revolution on the way, such as the development of the Apple Vision Pro.

Experts believe advances in VR technology are leading us into an era of massive technological upheaval akin to that of the advent of mobile phones.

Therefore, we expect eCommerce stores to strive to create more interactive experiences that allow customers to engage more virtually with their products.

Those who are early adopters of this technology will be ahead in years to come, while those who are slow to jump on the bandwagon will fall behind.

Going hand in hand with VR, AR is also making a great impact, allowing customers to see how products might look in their own space before making a purchase.

As the technology for these kinds of experiences continues to improve, we can expect to see more innovative uses within eCommerce, eventually becoming an essential aspect over the next decade.

Sustainability & Ethics Focus

eCommerce websites are seeing a greater need to focus on their products’ sustainability as well as the ethical practices involved in their sourcing and manufacturing in a world plagued by the climate change crisis.

The environmental, social and governance (ESG) metric is becoming increasingly crucial as consumers become more conscious of their impact on the environment and on society.

People are now looking for brands and stores that align with ESG values.

Therefore, in order to remain relevant and competitive, eCommerce website design needs to focus on promoting the use of eco-friendly packaging or the sourcing of products from ethical suppliers.

Additionally, transparency regarding business practices needs to be prominent on eCommerce websites to build customer trust and differentiate itself in a crowded market.

Consumers’ consciousness around environmental impact means that eCommerce websites that do not incorporate this ideology into their design will soon be left behind.

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Trust & Security Enhancements

Building security and trust in the website design is another element that is becoming more and more important to relieve customers’ fears of falling victim to cybercrime.

Due to the pandemic-induced eCommerce surge in 2020, consumers are now more cautious about sharing personal information, particularly financial details, due to the growing impact of online fraud. 

Therefore, it has become critical for any eCommerce website to ensure that it implements various well-understood universal trust signals, such as SSL/TLS certificates, secure payment gateways and clear privacy policies.

This kind of robust security can help alleviate concerns and establish credibility.

Additionally, clear and well-established refunds and returns methods will help ensure that customers feel safe about ordering products online and getting what they paid for.

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)

PWAs have been gaining traction in the eCommerce world for a while and their relevance seems to be growing.

These websites function like native mobile apps, with features like offline access, push notifications and home screen icons.

The benefits of having a PWA are that they offer the best of both worlds, which is the ease of use and functionality of native apps with the accessibility and reach of a website.

Having native apps installed on one’s phone also allows customers the convenience of always being logged in and feeling more secure about their personal details because they do not have to enter them in a website browser every time.

PWAs are also better for storing customer preferences, histories and other personal information to ensure their shopping experience is personalised, allowing for a faster and more personalised shopping experience.

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Social Media & Influencer Marketing

Although social media marketing has been around for a while, there has been a steady rise in influencer marketing through social media over the past few years.

This unique form of digital marketing plays a key role in promoting products and ensuring that customers remain up to speed with the latest eCommerce trends.

With influencer marketing becoming a more significant powerhouse for eCommerce websites, it makes sense that eCommerce website design is starting to lean into it.

For example, some eCommerce websites might adjust certain design elements, such as fonts, imagery and layout, to align with the aesthetic and messaging of the influencer’s content or to incorporate specially themed promotions.

Other design elements might have certain elements connecting an eCommerce website to that of an influencer with a large and loyal following to gain credibility and boost visibility.

This kind of thinking can connect the business to a larger audience eager to jump on board based on solid recommendations from someone they trust.

Headless Commerce Architecture

The rise of a headless commerce architecture is worth mentioning, as this essentially represents a decoupling of the front end and back end of an eCommerce website, allowing for greater flexibility and customisation.

With this structure, businesses can design distinctive and captivating consumer experiences free from the limitations of a conventional eCommerce platform.

This allows for more innovation and differentiation in potentially crowded marketplaces.

For example, developers can implement custom features, specialised design elements and interesting user interfaces without worrying about the constraints that would normally be imposed by traditional eCommerce platforms.

This shift towards more agile, adaptable and customer-centric eCommerce websites allows businesses to stay ahead of the competition while delivering a memorable shopping experience that will improve the customer experience and drive growth.

Final Thoughts

With advancements in technology and changing consumer behaviours, modern eCommerce websites are more user-friendly, secure and engaging than ever before.

From mobile-first designs and increased personalisation to immersive experiences and a focus on sustainability, the trends shaping eCommerce today are geared towards enhancing the customer experience and staying competitive in a rapidly changing market.

By understanding and implementing these trends, businesses can ensure their online stores meet the demands of today’s shoppers and remain ahead of the curve.

Would you like help taking your eCommerce online store to the next level? Reach out to one of our local eCommerce teams across Australia, including Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is eCommerce website design?

eCommerce website design involves creating an online platform where businesses can sell products or services.

It includes designing the layout, user interface and overall look and feel of the website to provide a seamless shopping experience for customers.

Why is mobile-first design important for eCommerce?

Mobile-first design is crucial because more people use their smartphones to shop online than any other device.

Designing with mobile in mind ensures that your website is optimised for smaller screens, providing a better user experience and increasing the chances of conversions.

How does personalisation impact eCommerce?

Personalisation improves the shopping experience by tailoring product recommendations, offers and content to individual users based on their preferences and behaviour.

This can lead to increased customer satisfaction, higher conversion rates and improved customer loyalty.

What are Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)?

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are websites that function like native mobile apps.

They offer features such as offline access, push notifications and home screen icons, providing a more seamless and app-like experience for users without needing to download a separate application.

How does social media influence eCommerce website design?

Social media, particularly influencer marketing, plays a significant role in promoting products and driving traffic to eCommerce sites.

Websites may incorporate design elements that align with influencer aesthetics or include features that facilitate social sharing and engagement, helping to build brand credibility and reach a wider audience.

What is headless commerce architecture?

Headless commerce architecture separates the front end and back end of an eCommerce website, allowing for greater flexibility and customisation.

This approach enables businesses to create unique and engaging customer experiences without being constrained by traditional eCommerce platform limitations.

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