This was Amazon’s home page in 1995:
By ’98, it had adopted the “catalog” look:
The “catalog look” is the ubiquitous format for most online shops today, and one a few have veered from it.
The Web has changed since ’98
Clearly the Web changed dramatically from 1998 to 2014, as did the way we access it with the progression from computers to smartphones to tablets.
The way users interact with devices has changed too. UX professionals now must account for touch screens and gestures. Mobile apps have the ability to tap deep into the features of an OS, such as voice, camera, geolocation, and push notifications. Designers can tailor mobile apps specifically to enhance the mobile user experience.
Even the desktop experience evolved with the ability to personalize customer experience based on what is known about the consumer, which was made available by analytics and segmentation/targeting tools. Machine learning and natural language processing applied to merchandising and search continues to hold unleveraged potential.
Web design has excelled: it supports interactive, engaging media and content from product video to product finders and parallax scrolling.
APIs bring social functionality to web pages and export content to social networks, as well as enable customers to contribute their own reviews and pictures to websites. Twitter and Facebook are experimenting with “Buy buttons” embedded inside posts, which will support transactions outside of retailers’ sites. And there are countless opportunities to “merchandise beyond the storefront” online.
If it’s not broken?
It’s 2015. But are we living with the times? Is the “online catalog” experience is the “best” way to sell across digital touch-points? Maybe, it’s time to reinvent the digital commerce experience altogether.