As a consumer, you don’t evaluate your shopping experience based on its discrete parts.
Unless you’re a copywriting nerd like me, you don’t view the page copy as separate from the product photos. Nor do you necessarily take time to appreciate the ease of navigation or the seamless checkout process. Your experience is simply good or it’s not. You consume that experience as a whole and you evaluate it as such, too.
So, while we have had a great time pulling apart the individual elements of what makes for an amazing online shopping experience and evaluating the copy, design, brand, and photography—those pieces only tell part of the story.
Ultimately, what shapes a great online shopping experience isn’t a single, specific attribute. It’s how the customer feels when they use your site. It could be a combination of captivating copywriting and stunning photos. Or, it could be a bold brand positioning statement that instantly reflects trust and confidence. There’s no single way to define an exceptional experience for your customers, but they’ll know it when they feel it.
When ya got it, ya got it.
In our final round of recognition for Best Sports & Leisure Online Shopping Experience Awards in 2019, we wanted to recognize the brands that have outstanding overall online shopping experiences but didn’t rank among the top in any single category that we evaluated.
These brands all offer a variety of great attributes that, together, create a great customer experience. No two websites as the same, but the net effect is a good one.
Here are the winners.
Aplina’s experience and brand looks and feels so much bigger than just boots and bindings. They promise transformation. They separate themselves from other brands and products by focusing on the emotional triggers that drive purchasing decisions. Winning, conquering, and emerging victorious are common themes that resonate with the outdoor and sports lifestyle.
It’s hard to put your finger on one specific part of the Aerial Wakeboarding site that stands out above the rest. But, as a whole, it just feels exciting—like a brand that helps you chase the adrenaline rush (and catch it).
From tents to backpacks to poles, shopping the ALPS website feels like you’re picking an epic adventure right off the shelf. The imagery is stunning, copywriting is evocative, and the design feels like a seamless story that puts a perfect ribbon around the entire experience.
Get on the safety train, man! Y&Y Vertical does a good job of blending humor and serious safety information for a product that can be incredibly helpful for climbers. They do a good job of using visuals and messaging hierarchy to explain the product, its unique features, and the benefit it provides for belayers (and the climbers they won’t be dropping).
Landyachtz has one of the cleanest and simplest websites in the bunch. It’s classic. But what really stands out is the combination of striking photography and so-simple-you-can’t-possibly-screw-it-up website navigation. Drop in and find exactly what you’re looking to buy.
Visit the SIMS Snowboards website and you’ll be instantly captivated by the way it captures the essence and feel of the snowboarding lifestyle. It’s exciting, rugged, and still a bit raw. Best of all, you can jump straight from the video into the products and start shopping. It’s a next-level experience that feels a bit like magic.
Right away, you can tell that HED isn’t just selling your average bicycle. Their emphasis on story and craftsmanship immediately elevate the brand and translate into a superior shopping experience. Beyond that, they nail all of the fundamentals you need in terms of design and navigation.
Get in, get your board, and hit the waves. Pro-Lite doesn’t spend a lot of time dancing around with flashy features on their site. You’re about one click away from buying exactly what you need on every single page. The structure, architecture, and design make it super simple to navigate and shop for your surfing needs.
Embrace the weird. CAPiTA’s site is completely unique in style and design but has a familiar and intuitive shopping experience. That’s called a win-win, and more brands should look for ways to pull it off.
GRAYL’s water purification products are a really cool piece of technology. On top of that, they tell an amazing brand story and cast a vision for what the world should look like. These compelling pieces come together to create an amazing site that will have you clicking “Buy” before you hit the bottom of the page.
There’s just something great about the simplicity and straightforward nature of the Pacsafe site. They emphasize the security aspect, but also recognize the importance of style and utility as well.
Solo Stove’s range of fire pits and camp stoves can serve the needs of a variety of consumers. From family campers to rugged, extreme mountain climbers; their site deftly speaks the written and visual language of multiple audiences. As a shopper, the language and photography immediately draw you to the product that’s best suited for your use and needs. On a site full of round metal containers, that’s definitely no small feat.
If you’ve even looked at a body of water in the last year, you can probably find a sports or leisure product you need on the HO website. They manage to capture a variety of water sports and activities and provide great content like curated collections and videos to help shoppers make the right buying decision.
There are not a lot of frills on the Harmony Gear website. But what it lacks in flash, it makes up for in clean design, simple navigation, and a simple checkout system. This is a great example of how any brand can accomplish simple excellence by just focusing on the parts of the experience that matter most.
Kask does a pretty good job of making safety look sexy. Their helmets are on full display, but with cool photography and strong copywriting, they’re able to position their products as more than just something that you need in order to protect your noggin.
The site for these solar-powered lights is pretty remarkable in a lot of ways. First of all, they use powerful imagery that leaves no question about the product and its value for the customer. But, more importantly, they take the tactical and recreational use that we think of and expand it to the life-changing use cases for children and families around the world. Tying something as simple as a portable light source to such a big and important narrative really elevates the brand to new heights.
Copywriting tip number one: Write to the needs of your audience. Maxim comes out swinging by addressing the biggest question any reasonable customer could have—is this rope going to keep me safe when I’m dangling 600 feet in the air like a maniac? They instantly build trust and then check off all the boxes you need for a great online shopping experience.
Here again, we see the power of taking simple products and building a big brand narrative around them. Mucky Nutz strikes right to the heart of biking culture and lifestyle. The products they’re selling—fenders, guards, and grips—aren’t just utilitarian devices. They make the entire biking experience possible.
Clever name and branding? Check. Clean design with easy and intuitive navigation? Check. HumanN’s supplement products really shine with a clean, modern, and sophisticated shopping experience that makes it dead-simple to buy and also provides a wealth of resources for curious shoppers.
Preparing the gear for a big trip or adventure is one of the purest moments of joy and anticipation. There’s a sense of determination and diligence as you’re loading up your pack and strapping down equipment. Ultimate Direction captures that perfectly on their site—leading with a video that will echo the experience of every customer who’s gone through the gear check and packing process a million times.
DUOTONE has a penchant for the truth. Their brand resonates in their messaging. Photos feel larger than life. And the design and UX of the site makes it easy to imagine yourself grabbing a new board and taking flight.
Hyperlite is impossible to ignore. Their site leads with action and an awesome design that feels instantly modern and powerful. When you dig in, it’s a quick and intuitive shopping experience that guides you right to the products you’re looking for and offers plenty of details so you can make an informed buying decision. Form, meet function.
As you can see from these sites and from the others that we have highlighted throughout the course of our Best Online Shopping Experience awards, great brand sites come in many shapes and sizes. Just like the brands themselves, they all have a unique identity and certain characteristics that make the experience positive and keep customers coming back.
No matter their differences, one thing holds true for all brands. You can’t dedicate your energy to providing an amazing shopping experience if you’re spending all your time updating spreadsheets and editing product item details.
Managing product data for your online shop and a million other channels and retailers manually can be a nightmare. But the right tool could make it feel like a dream.
Plytix helps brands get their sh*t together online. Our PIM software gives you the tools you need to wrangle content so you can focus on more important (and profitable) parts of the business—like providing the best customer experience you possibly can.
Interested in our thoughts on 50+ other sports and leisure brands? Here are all of our past Best Online Shopping Experience Awards winners: