New Year, New Lessons: What We Learned From the Biggest E-commerce Retailers

  •    Emilie works in Product Marketing at POWr. POWr’s mission is to provide affordable solutions to help small businesses grow.

It’s the new year and, even if you’re not making new year’s resolutions, it’s a great time to reassess your online store ready for the year ahead. It’s been estimated that Amazon will make up 50% of all US E-commerce by 2021, so there are undoubtedly some lessons to be learnt from them. We’ll also look at Walmart and Macy’s, who are in the top 5 e-commerce retailers, and bring you five lessons we learned from their online stores that you can apply to your own!

1. Build an effective homepage design

Your homepage is likely to be the first page your customers will see. It’s like your storefront window, so it should draw in your customers and make them want to purchase. Let’s take a look at what the ‘giants’ do:


Amazon homepage



You’ll notice that both have a notification bar at the very top of the page to highlight new or interesting products. Both then also use a banner slider to promote several of their newest products and offers. They then use a slider of smaller images to showcase ‘featured’ or ‘recommended’ products. These are effective ways of immediately displaying products, but also of neatly categorizing them and highlighting seasonal or special offers without making the page look too crowded or disordered.

Key takeaways: add a notification bar to emphasize your latest offer or promotion. Sliders are also great ways of showcasing products and can be used in different locations on your page, with text and images or custom banners. You can also set them to auto-scroll and select transition styles to make them more eye-catching. Make sure each image in the slider links to a specific page and ensure that the customer journey is smooth to get more conversions!

2. Product reviews are essential!

Customer reviews influence purchase decisions for 97% of people. With so many similar products and sellers available online (and in-store) users want to know what others thought of the product and their experience with the seller.

Here’s how they look in Amazon:

Amazon product review page

And in Walmart:

Walmart product review page

By enabling star ratings and comments, potential buyers can get a good overview of the product’s popularity and get feedback directly from end-users. The more reviews (and positive reviews), the more likely you are to make a sale.

Key takeaways: Enable comments and star-ratings on your product pages! This is the first step, but also think about how to get these reviews. It means good customer service: good communication, prompt delivery, and products that match their descriptions. Also be sure to follow up with customers post-purchase to check that they’re happy with their purchase and give them a link to leave a review on your product page.

3. Make it easy to compare prices

With the abundance of products and sellers available online, users need to be able to differentiate between them. If they’re unable to do so it leads to further indecision and cart abandonment. Easy comparisons lead to action being taken by customers.

When showing similar products, Amazon uses a comparison table:

Amazon Kindle compare page

It’s easy to see the difference between models and where their features overlap.

Walmart also show the difference between different sellers for the same product, also in a comparison table, but with a horizontal layout:

Walmart seller compare page

Macy’s show you what other customers shopped for in an eye-catching vertical view, so customers can see products related to what they’re looking at:

Macy's product page

This is a great way of cross-selling products, or even potentially upselling users to a more expensive version of the product.

Key takeaways: don’t miss an opportunity! Use product or price comparison tables to clearly show the difference between products or packages and to cross-sell or upsell. Play around with the design, colors and layout too to find what works best for your customers.

4. Create a sense of urgency

Numerous studies have shown that urgency drives action. The psychology behind it tells us that it’s because the emotional reaction provoked by an urgent situation makes us act more impulsively.

Here’s how Macy’s have achieved it:

Macy's homepage featuring a sale

They have a countdown timer on their homepage that counts down to the end of their sale event, and this appears on every single product page too.

Key takeaways: Add a countdown timer to your site to count down to the end of a sale, special promotion or even event or launch of a new collection. The great thing about these is that you can customize them so that they reset on page load, or per visitor, and they’re particularly effective if you use them by a call-to-action, such as a ‘Buy Now’ button.

5. Make your products easy to buy

Once your customers have decided between multiple product options, multiple sellers, read reviews and are finally ready to complete their purchase, it’s important to ensure that they don’t get frustrated at the final hurdle. It’s simple: easy checkout options make it more likely that customers will complete their purchase.

Amazon make it easy with their ‘Buy now with 1-Click’ option, so you don’t have to go through a separate checkout page and enter all your details again:

Amazon checkout page

Walmart have a popup on the same page so you can see your basket and can continue straight to checkout:

Walmart checkout page

Key takeaways: use e-commerce tools that give you flexibility when it comes to setting up your checkout options. If a user has to navigate from the product, to their basket, to a separate checkout page it involves more clicks and can lead to cart abandonment. Map out your checkout flow and see if there is anywhere you can streamline it for customers.

Selling online can be daunting and there are many factors to consider beyond your website, but trying out some of these tips can help you optimize your site to sell better in the new year. Start small and continue to optimize, and we wish you every success for the year ahead!