As everyone hopes to begin their recovery process in 2022, businesses are becoming bolder and innovative with their strategies. To help you stay competitive in the ecommerce space, we present you with a list of the hottest ecommerce design trends to look out for in 2022.

The top 9 ecommerce design trends for 2022

    1. Vertically aligned menus
    2. Unconventional layouts
    3. Blurring boundaries: physical vs digital
    4. Sophisticated voice user interfaces
    5. The holistic ecommerce experience
    6. Up close and increased personalization
    7. Appealing to the senses
    8. From ecommerce to green ecommerce
    9. Modern businesses turn headless

1.  Vertically aligned menus

For decades, everyone has defaulted to using a horizontal menu on their websites. After all, ecommerce platforms used to be only meant for large screens, like desktops and laptops. This is rapidly changing as a whopping 68% of users visit websites through their mobile phones. Now, ecommerce platforms need to be mobile-friendly, too.

While companies initially started creating responsive websites that fit varying screen sizes, it soon became apparent that some horizontal menus don’t work well on narrow mobile screens. Because of this, you might have noticed a growing number of ecommerce websites with vertically aligned menus.

A website showcasing a vintage gramophone in the center and a guitar and a violin on the side of the page.
A website selling musical instruments by AR Shakir via Dribbble

Since a vertical menu can be on either side of the page, it does not take much space and is easier to scale. When viewed on a desktop, a vertical menu lets you add navigational links without the drop-down menu obstructing the body of your page. And as it resembles a list, a vertical menu serves as an efficient guide for the users on how you want them to explore your page seamlessly.

Simply put, vertically aligned menus are intuitive and practical. Websites are even starting to combine horizontal menus for primary navigational links with vertical menus for secondary links. This approach maximizes the space while offering a memorable alternative to standard navigation displays we’ve become accustomed to.

a website’s product page preview containing horizontal and vertical menus. In the middle of the page stands a man wearing black clothes and boots.
Designs by AR Shakir via Dribbble
A chef is holding a seashell over a tray of seafood
Right-aligned vertical menu via Laurie Raphael

2. Unconventional layouts

A layout helps structure the information on a website in a way that is attractive and functional. Many businesses rely on ecommerce platforms for this, like Shopify. These tend to offer a range of standard design templates following a small, set number of structures like the singular-column layout or F-layout. The problem with these is that although they’re easy to set up, they have become so common that they no longer deliver an element of surprise to users.

Through unconventional layouts, some businesses are breaking the mold and thriving on oddity. Their websites, apps, and online pages incorporate themes into their layout, like a well-curated sophisticated art gallery with infinite scroll. Some also combine several elements, like interactive videos and animated photos, resulting in an interesting experience. The likely results? Longer user engagement, higher brand retention, and increased conversion rate.

Two smartphones provide a preview of Christian Louboutin’s website.
Christian Louboutin’s website design for mobile use by Yana Pronina via Behance

Tip: Be distinct by breaking traditional practices and pushing your creative boundaries. A layout is not purely for aesthetics. Treat your layout design as an opportunity to tell your business’ story.

OMBIA Studio website incorporating an asymmetrical layout.
By Ben Mingo, Jason Bradley and Mouthwash Studio, via Behance
art ecommerce design
Design reflective of one of the biggest ecommerce design trends, this year. By Julia Rusina via Behance

3. Blurring boundaries: physical vs digital

As the pandemic trapped many people indoors, businesses have relied on ecommerce platforms to pick up the consumers who transact through physical stores. And with the slow return to normal, the clamor for platforms that make way for digital and physical interaction is here to stay.

coffee ecommerce app
Mockups by Ruby Lin, Dustin Kummer, Daniel Martin and Nicole Chen via Behance

In addition to e-stores or ecommerce websites, apps of every purpose grew to meet user demands for convenience and excellent digital customer services. These platforms cut a few extra steps from a customer’s journey if they were to shop in stores. For example, a physical store would require traveling to the store, shopping in a crowd and waiting in line to pay for your items.

With this new ecommerce design trend, businesses enable consumers to check which products are in stock in their nearest stores, set up appointments and settle their bills digitally. They can also integrate customer service through live support via chat or video calls. With a smartphone-dependent market, apps can do wonders for a business and its end-users.

The home page of Simple Showing, a real estate app, is previewed on two smartphones.
Simple Showing’s home tour app designed by Typelab D
Five white smartphones display different pages of an on-demand manual labor app.
Render, a manual labor app, designed by AleksandarCucu

4. Sophisticated voice user interfaces

Want to bring in a new level of convenience? Tap into the power of AI technology.

A dark blue and a light blue speech bubbles in the shape of smartphones, overlapping each other.
Illustration by Musique!

Businesses now realize the benefits of integrating AI technology into their ecommerce platforms through a voice-activated user interface. Providing users with someone to assist and dialog with creates a personalized and highly efficient user experience: think of it like having a personal store clerk or a secretary at home.

To achieve this, you can start by working voice user interface into your UX design and investing in voice search optimization for your ecommerce website. Searches via text are usually in phrases, while people who use voice search tend to ask in complete sentences.

Like search engine optimization, you need to integrate keywords and content that are “verbally” visible. With this in mind, you can add keywords in the form of questions or leverage on keywords that appear on featured snippets on Google—sometimes called position zero or the information that shows above the first search result— to name a few.

And as AI technology continues to advance, more and more people are taking advantage of it. Products and services are becoming highly accessible with a single voice command or voice search. Survey data from Microsoft supports this, with 72% of their respondents using digital assistants, like Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, and Cortana. Grocery shopping, setting appointments, and other everyday activities have also become automated, thanks to AI.

A Homepod mini, three iPhones, and an Apple Watch with Siri features.
Screenshot of Apple Siri’s capabilities via Apple

5. The holistic ecommerce experience

With over 500,000 brands and billions of ecommerce platforms worldwide, capturing the market with various needs is challenging.  This means that to remain competitive, large corporations need to become one-stop shops by growing what they offer.

Larger ecommerce brands can take their cue from Facebook. After acquiring several social media platforms in addition to Facebook, they are now expanding into social technologies. Hence, the rebranding to Meta. With their expansion, more and more users are likely to use Meta for their social media and social technology needs.

Meta landing page
Meta’s landing page, via Meta

The same expansion is done by Amazon, the biggest ecommerce company in the world, which has grown from selling products in multiple categories to providing Amazon Web Services. Diversifying by adding new products and expanding to related markets allow ecommerce businesses to thrive and capture a larger market.

6. Up close and increased personalization

The pandemic triggered a movement across many enterprises to support the COVID-19 response. Many adopted a double bottom line approach, where they do business not only for financial gains but also to create a positive social impact to society. Examples include companies that have held donation drives, feeding programs and given away huge discounts.  As the saying goes: Doing good is good for business.

As one of our biggest ecommerce design trends this year, creating a personalized experience has evolved to highlight thoughtfulness and sensitivity. Take, for instance, Bloom & Wild Flower Delivery. They innovated their opt-out feature to let customers unsubscribe from receiving or seeing any web content related to selective commemorative holidays they may not wish to celebrate. This type of action communicates authentic brand values to users, heightens trust by increasing the personalization of their experience and showcases your brand’s human side.

A list of brands, including Trouva, The Telegraph, Motley, Papier, and SilkFred
A screenshot of all the brands who participated in Bloom & Wild’s thought-marketing campaign via LVLY
The page displays a headline that says “Don’t want any Mother’s Day reminders? No problem.” and an accompanying text explaining how they can opt-out.
Screenshot of a mother’s day opt-out page via Bloom & Wild

7. Appealing to the senses

While ecommerce platforms can benefit greatly from advanced technology like virtual reality to heighten a multi-sensory digital experience, there are less complex methods you can implement. An expert combination of hues, gradients, brilliantly captured photos, stylized fonts and the use of abstract—even interactive—shapes in your layout sets a mood.

candle ecommerce site
Design by Karina Apukhtina via Behance

You could add sound effects to enhance your UI (user interface) design, like a satisfying ‘ding’ when you click on a button to confirm an order. You could animate hover effects, so say you have a background image of the ocean on your site, whenever a user hovers over said image you could implement the sound and motion view of the waves crashing.

This is especially helpful for accessibility reasons as you can design sound and imagery to serve as a user’s guide through the site. Besides this, you can incorporate descriptive and compelling copy that are thought-evoking to further support your visual content and immerse your users in the design.

skincare brand ecommerce site
By Hrvoje Grubisic via Behance

When choosing photos, it is best to select high-quality pictures that convey how you want consumers to react to your brand. A food website with a mouth-watering sauce and a plate of roasted meat can make someone hungry. The creamy and silky texture of the skin product applied on the woman’s face can appeal to someone in search of a skin product that’s gentle and highly moisturizing. As you can see above, a website’s minimalist layout can evoke a clean, authentic and contemporary feeling that blends with the product packaging.

8. From ecommerce to green ecommerce

Online shopping lets you buy anywhere, thus saving you time and money for gas or commute.  Apparently, it also lets you do a good deed for the environment. According to the UN, several regions like Southeast Asia, experienced an immense 40 percent drop in air pollution due to limited activities outdoors. But while the environment benefited from the decreased air pollution during lockdowns, the need for single-use plastics has risen.

Four kraft boxes with the text on the top of the box that says ‘Our Way Around.’
Eco-friendly packaging design by TikaDesign

To combat this, there is an ongoing shift in the market in which consumers are becoming more eco-conscious—and expecting the brands they buy into to be accountable for their impact on the environment. Over 60% of Americans choose to buy from eco-friendly brands and such demand has given birth to green ecommerce. This refers to a wave of brands incorporating green solutions into their processes.

This means working with less damaging materials for the environment, bioplastics, reusable packaging, paper utensils, and other non-toxic materials. Brands are also actively encouraging buyers to forgo same-day delivery and consolidate their orders to reduce the use of packaging. You can expect more delivery services using electric vehicles and bicycles to deliver parcels, too. Governments echo this by accelerating their efforts in banning the sale of petrol and diesel cars, which is expected to be implemented between 2030 and 2035.

A white canvas bag with a green circle attached to a twig with leaves is held against a green wall.
Reusable bag designed by Bojana

Another issue arises in product returns from digital retailers. Data from Statista reveals that return delivery costs reached over $500 billion because products delivered do not meet the expectations of consumers based on the info from the website. With this in mind, brands are becoming more responsible by posting full product descriptions, actual product photos with in-depth details, and integrating feedback and comments sections in their website. Doing these gives buyers all the information they need before finalizing their orders, thus reducing the chances for return deliveries.

9. Modern businesses turn headless

Tech innovation made way for an array of amazing platforms and features, like smart voice assistants and virtual reality. While having multiple platforms is beneficial in increasing your reach, integrating them in one system can take a toll on the management of your server aside from it being time-consuming and complex.

Enter, headless commerce.

Headless commerce is the process of detaching the various user interfaces (front-end) from the server-side (backend). Doing so allows you to layer key functions in your digital ecosystem—websites, microsites, multiple apps, and VR or AR features—design, and customize them in the most efficient way while keeping your backend intact.

Each vital component can also be easily edited and updated independently without having to rely on software developers. As a result, headless commerce allows flexibility to scale up and meet the unlimited demands of your users on time, leading to a seamless user experience across all channels.

Well-established brands like Nike, Target, Redbox, and Annie Selke are implementing a headless commerce approach.

A man wearing a black cap points his iPhone camera at an SNKRS poster to buy a pair of black Nike shoes.
Nike’s AR-powered app via engadget
Three iPhone screens displaying a camera scanning a person’s feet and showing a pair of white Nike shoes with a 9.5 shoe size.
Nike’s AR-powered app via Engadget

Nike, in particular, has used React SPA and Node.js, tools for building interfaces, to create an AR-powered app feature to deter bots that resellers use to get limited edition products. The feature also increases their market reach among mobile users and provides an interactive experience.

In partnership with Chef David Chang and through the Nike App, people can head to Chang’s Momofuku restaurant and point the camera at a physical menu to purchase the model they want. Those who cannot go to the restaurant can still access the limited edition shoes by pointing the camera on the website version of the menu or through SNKRS powered posters.

Nike also added a separate AR-powered app feature that accurately measures your feet, which enables you to bypass any mishaps and get the correct size. This also means less product returns for Nike, which cannot be a bad thing.

Tap your full potential in ecommerce

The ever-changing landscape of ecommerce may seem overwhelming. But one thing is sure: the future of ecommerce is looking bright. With a retail ecommerce sales projection of over $1 trillion by 2022 in the US alone, the competition can be steep yet rewarding. Level up your game and navigate your way to success when you implement these ecommerce design trends.

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