Polyvore Want a Cracker? How the Social Commerce Website is Shaping Design in Web Retail

By Amberly Dressler, Managing Editor

In a world where nearly everything can be bought online, retailers need to find creative ways to assist shoppers in making buying decisions and completing the checkout process. And, it needs to be done as quickly as possible.

According to Monetate's most recent Ecommerce Quarterly report, nearly 52 percent of transactions are made in the first 15 minutes of a shopping session, while nearly 75 percent of all purchases are made within an hour-long window.

Web design plays a pivotal role in every one of those minutes a shopper spends on a site. To keep up with evolving user expectations of how a site should look and perform, some top retailers are taking a page from popular social commerce website Polyvore to aid in product discovery and, ultimately, conversion.

For the unfamiliar, Polyvore is a social shopping site where users are able to mix and match items they like and put them into a digital, interactive collage (see image). The result (see image) can easily be shared and, more importantly, shopped from.

A. Polyvore users can create style collages with products they like. Each product includes its name, price and retail website.

B. Once a Polyvore style collage is created, users can publish them to share on Pinterest, Facebook, tumblr, Twitter, their blog or through email. More importantly, all the rich product info (retailer, price, etc.) stays with the collage as it's shared.

Large brands including Nordstrom are implementing designs similar to Polyvore, leveraging techniques that group products in creative layouts, as well as using infinite scrolling on homepages and/or product result pages. Polyvore didn't invent these techniques, nor was it the first adopter, but Polyvore's popularity with some of the Web's savviest shoppers (like millennials and moms) is certainly encouraging retailers to follow in its digital steps.

One reason why retailers are adopting infinite scrolling, in particular, is because it minimizes the number of clicks users have to make in order to view more products. Not all design and retail professionals are sold on infinite scrolling's effectiveness for ecommerce sites, however, - citing it's a distraction, which could cost conversions. That said, its use by many popular social networks (e.g. Pinterest) should make shoppers quite comfortable using it once more retailers adopt it.

Where retailers may be hesitant with infinite scrolling, they are flocking to Polyvore's curated layout and style.

Take kids' retailer Hanna Andersson for example. Its "Shop the Room" feature (see image) shows off beautiful, professionally styled rooms where shoppers can easily buy the different items shown to recreate the room at home.

C. Thanks to social shopping sites like Polyvore, shoppers are expecting look-book editorial type pages on retailers' websites - taking the guess work out of styling rooms in their homes or the outfits that they wear.

This style complements the idea of connecting shoppers with products that would have meaning to them in the outside world (read more at wsm.co/storycomm).

Story-driven Web design is a creative way of enhancing product discovery by grouping like-items. Many shoppers are becoming very comfortable with this concept, thanks to Polyvore.