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Innovative e-commerce sites to watch

Innovative e-commerce sites to watch Lauren Friedman
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In the age of online shopping, it's difficult for e-retailers to stand out in the crowd. There are so many sites that offer discounts, deals, free shipping, and exclusive offers, that in order to stand out, you have to be doing something truly innovative. You must be changing the way people shop and creating a unique shopping experience unlike any other.


Innovative e-commerce sites to watch


These e-commerce sites are doing just that.


Joyus


Fashion bloggers and beauty vloggers are so hot right now. And Joyus knows it. Joyus has combined the two into a video-meets-social-meets-online-shopping destination. According to its "about" page, Joyus is made up of "a team of fashion, beauty and health experts dedicated to finding the latest tips and best products out there." And that's just it. They scour through products, select the best, and bring to you, the shopper, a full video review including tips and tricks to help you make your shopping decisions. It brings the product to life -- you can see yourself using it.



Instead of hard selling, the experts position themselves as personal shoppers or beauty/fashion/nutrition experts using and buying the products themselves and giving you plenty of advice along the way.

Hautelook


Acquired by Nordstrom in 2011, this online and mobile retailer is certainly changing the way people shop. This site (and app -- more than half of total sales are done via mobile) is based on the concept of flash sales. Each day, Hautelook sends an email invitation to the newest sales events to more than 9 million members across the U.S. and Canada. The events range from men to women to kids, to home and beauty products at 50 to 70 percent off retail.



Since items are limited, while supplies last, here's where things get a little fun -- once you put an item in your cart, you have 15 minutes to make your final decision on it before it becomes available to another shopper.


Recently, they also added a section where members can shop Nordstrom Rack alongside the Hautelook flash sales.

Mack


Shopping for home décor online can be tricky. But going into stores and lugging home pillows and tables can be even more daunting. Mack has made the process of shopping for and decorating your home as effortless as possible. Mack leverages one of the hottest trends in e-commerce: clustering (outfits, rooms in a house, etc.). Mack is focused on bundles rather than individual products.


On shopmack.com, you can shop for home décor by room, category, style, and color. Mack also brings shoppers design advice. Much like Hautelook, you can see the designs in your own home.



When shopping by room, for example, Mack displays a large image of a perfectly designed room in a home. Then, the shopper can just hover over an item to see the price, get more info, and add it to the shopping cart.



Warby Parker


Warby Parker is changing the way people shop for eyewear. Warby Parker has set the standard for merging online and real-world commerce while never sacrificing its cool. Warby Parker creates boutique-quality, classically crafted eyewear starting at $95 per pair. How can good quality eyewear be so inexpensive? Warby Parker cuts out the middleman (the high-priced optical retailers) and sells directly to you.


However, buying eyewear online can seem a little scary. You want to try the glasses on and make sure they suit you before purchasing. Warby Parker has solved that by allowing you to choose five frames to try on at no cost (not even shipping!). You then return the sample frames, choose your favorite to purchase on the site, add in your prescription, and voila! New glasses are on their way.



Not only is Warby Parker changing the way people purchase eyewear, it's also changing the world. According to the site, almost one billion people worldwide lack access to glasses. "This means that 15 percent of the global population cannot effectively learn or work -- a problem that Warby Parker is determined to address." The brand has partnered with non-profits to ensure that for every pair of glasses sold by Warby Parker, a pair is distributed to someone in need.

Outdoor Research


Outdoor Research has created a true community for adventurers. Not only is the site aesthetically pleasing, it's also incredibly useful. The shopping process is multi-dimensional and hierarchal -- clothing and gear is organized by category and subsequently filtered by fit, gender, size, special features, sport, or technology.


Like Joyus and Mack, Outdoor Research prominently displays imagery of its outdoor gear in use. Once again, you can see yourself using the products.



Each product includes a plethora of reviews, in-depth descriptions, a list of pros and cons, information on the technology behind the gear, and many times, an accompanying video. You even have the option to purchase from selected online partners to make sure you're getting the best deal possible.


#AmazonCart


While #AmazonCart isn't technically an e-commerce site, it's Amazon's innovative way to hop right into social selling. Amazon is now making your interactions online into an opportunity to shop.


It's as easy as this: Connect your Twitter account to your Amazon account, reply to any tweet containing an Amazon product link using the #AmazonCart hashtag, and the item will be placed in your cart so you can purchase it later.



These are just a few of the companies that are working to change the way we shop online. The possibilities are endless. Putting the customers first and being where they are will be key in any new and innovative e-commerce experiences.


Lauren Friedman is head of global social business enablement at Adobe Systems.


On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.



"Unrecognizable woman shopping online using her tablet computer" image via Shutterstock.

Lauren Friedman is the head of Global Social Business Enablement at Adobe.  She's a digital and social marketing authority, with extensive experience working with Fortune 500 brands to integrate digital and social media into their overarching...

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