You will advise a successful retailer on how they could use a mobile app to improve their digital marketing. For the purpose of this assignment, you must choose one successful retailer to be your client. The client can a retailer in any category (i.e. a retailer that sells clothes, groceries, shoes, electronics, cosmetics, real estate, jewellery, or cars, etc.)
General Review of 2 Popular Mobile App
My Imaginary Client: River Island
Similar Mobile Apps to Review: Zara, Pretty Little Thing
“The best apps only do one thing, but they do it very, very well. It’s important that the app is original, improves on another app, solves a problem or entertains. It must be well designed, both in terms of visuals and the user experience.” – we could read in one of Forbs magazine’s articles back in 2013. (Larizadoh, A., 2013) George Berkowski – one of the inventors of the internationally successful taxi hailing app, Hailo – agrees: a mobile app should solve a problem people face every day. (YouTube, 2015)
Another vital thing every mobile app should take into account: mobile apps have to be personalised. Apps are used by different people with different needs and habits, “you need to take that into account, or else your usage numbers will start dropping quickly.” – says Inkbot Design in one of its articles from this year. (Inkbot Design, 2019)
Zara Mobile App
- The app and all of its functions load quickly. Loading speed is a critical element of user experience as Inkbot Design explains in one of their articles, “The first aspect of good user experience is making sure that your app loads quickly – if it takes a few seconds to load, that won’t be a problem, but if it loads for five seconds or even more, then many users won’t stick with your application for long.” (Inkbot Design, 2019)
- Once a category is selected, it is easy to navigate within the category. Items can be easily opened. Navigating back to the previous page is easy too.
- When an item is selected a “match with” category appears on the bottom of the page showcasing other items that match with that particular item.
- Users can share the app ether by email, text message or on social media by clicking “recommend this app” button if they go to “My Account”.
- The app is free to download and to use.
Figure 1 A “Match with” category appears on the bottom of the page on Zara’s mobile app, showcasing items that match with that particular item the user reached for.
- All the photos are high quality.
- Buttons are large enough to click on them with fingers.
- Image search is available on the app. Users can either upload an image they had previously snapped or searched on the Internet, and search for similar items on Zara’s mobile app.
- According to reviews the app often crushes unexpectedly while shopping.
- Many people complained about not being able to sign in.
- It is difficult to find some options such as the available sizes of clothes. Users have to click on “add” button to find available sizes and once the size has been selected, the item is added to the shopping cart automatically. This is frustrating and has negative effect on user experience.
Figure 2 If users want to find the available size of a specific item, they have to click on the “add” button. In which case the item is automatically added to the shopping card, regardless the user wanted to add it or not.
- In case of the jewellery, the photos are very small. It is difficult to see the details and there is no option to enlarge the image. Users have to use fingers to enlarge photos but even in this way it is impossible to enlarge the photos enough to be able to see details.
- When opening the app, users have to scroll down endlessly to find the category they are looking for. Categories available on the top, however those are not the same categories as users can see when scrolling down. This makes the app confusing.
Figure 3 Photos are often too small to see details on Zara’s mobile app. There is no zoom function and photos cannot be enlarged enough using fingers either.
- Share button does not appear on every page. Users can only share the app if they go to “My Account” and select “Share this app” Shareability is important when it comes to mobile apps. The most successful mobile apps allow users to share the app itself and/or the products the app sells. A good mobile app should have a feature that rewards users who share the app with their friends. (Vasquez, J., 2017)
Figure 4 Searching on the mobile app is difficult. The app does not show relevant items at all.
- Searching for specific items is complicated. Search panel does not work properly. For example: I searched for blue woman dress and the result showed items for all words individually: it showed blue dresses as well as other items in blue colour such as sandals and trousers. It also showed absolutely unrelated items such as black sandals, pink bags and yellow flower-patterned dresses and jewellery.
- App does not warn customers if an item is out of stock. It turns out when customer wants to pay.
- The names and specifications of the items are often not visible. Visitors can only read a fragment of them and there is no possibility to see the whole text.
Figure 5 Names of specific items are not fully visible when the name of the item is long.
- According to recent customer reviews the app often empties shopping cart automatically without warning.
- The app does not have “favourite” option to save specific items. Thus, users cannot customise the app.
Figure 6 The above screenshot showcases two recent negative customer reviews of Zara’s mobile app. Users are complaining about no favourite/wish list on the app, items disappearance from basket and difficulties with searching for specific items.
- Zara’s mobile app average customer review rate on iOS is 3.6 stars out of 5 stars, according to 1.8K user reviews.
Figure 7 Zara’s mobile app average customer rating on iOS 3.6 stars out of 5. This means, the app is not bad, but there is a lot to improve.
Pretty Little Thing Mobile App
- The app and all of its functions load quickly.
- Easy to navigate within categories. Categories are available when scrolling down and at the bottom of the page as well.
- Apart from the classic categories – shoes, dresses, accessories etc. – there are seasonal and more specific subcategories as well to make it easier for users to find particular items. For example: Halloween, Party Wear, Weddings etc. Mobile apps are used on the go. Therefore, it is crucial for a mobile app to reduce navigation as much as possible so users can reach anything with just a few clicks. (Inkbot Design, 2019) Pretty Little Thing mobile app does it well.
Figure 8 This screenshot is showcasing the easy navigation of Pretty Little Thing mobile app. Users can shop by common categories, such as dresses, tops, shoes etc. or by special categories or occasions such as Halloween, party wear or student style. This makes navigation and searching easy and enjoyable for users.
- There are big buttons making it easy for users to click on them by finger on mobile device.
- The app can be downloaded and used for free.
- Pretty and attractive design. Pretty Little Thing is specialised for women clothing and accessories, thus the main colour of the app is pink to make the app standing-out and more attractive and stylish for the ladies. Being memorable, unique, entertaining and fun are all vital features of a successful mobile app. In this case, Pretty Little Thing mobile app’s fresh unique design provides an experience, users will probably not forget and next time they want to order fashion clothes online, this mobile app will come up to their mind. (Vasquez, J., 2017)
Figure 9 As Pretty Little Thing is specialised for ladies clothing, the main colour of the app is pink. The app looks stylish, memorable and professional at the same time.
Figure 10 “Share” and “like” buttons appear next to each item, allowing users to either add an item to their favourites or share it with friends.
- The app operates with high quality photos allowing users to be able to see details of the products.
- There is a heart shaped “like” button next to each item allowing users to put specific items into “wish list” to be able to easily find them later.
- There is a share button next to each product allowing users to share items with friends either via email, text message or on social media.
- The app shows recently viewed items on the bottom of the page.
Figure 11 The screenshot above showcases recently viewed items on Pretty Little Thing’s mobile app. This feature helps users with comparing items and prices as well as makes it easier for them to go back to specific items they just viewed.
- Searching panel works properly. It is easy to find specific items using the searching panel. For example, I searched for “blue woman dress” and all the results were relevant.
Figure 12 Relevant items appeared when I searched for a specific item using the searching panel.
Figure 13 In this screenshot we can read positive user reviews about Pretty Little Thing mobile app.
- Customer reviews are mainly positive.
- Pretty Little Thing’s mobile app average customer review on iOS is 4.8 stars out of 5 stars, according to 108K user reviews. Listening to the users of our products and communicating with them can lower the possibility of unexpected errors as well as help us understand customer needs, fixing problems occur and help us in further developing the app. (ihimobileapps.com, 2019)
Figure 14 Pretty Little Thing’s iOS mobile app has a rating of 4.8 stars out of 5. This means, the app is efficient, easy and enjoyable to use.
- Some customer review says the app sometimes gets slow and keeps freezing. I also experienced the same problems.
- Pictures are high quality but zooming or enlarging them is not allowed.
- Out of stock items are not flagged. If an item is out of stock, it turns out at the checkout.
New Features Users Could Benefit
My chosen organisation: River Island
Already has mobile app?: Yes
Mobile app’s main function: Sells fashion clothes and accessories for men, women and children
Designing new app or improved app for River Island?: Improved
It would be useful to add short videos of items to give customers an idea how the clothes would look on. Showing videos next to photos could give users a better idea about how the clothes look when wearing and in motion.
How Would It Work?
When viewing an item, users can see photos of it from different perspectives. Usually the clothes in those photos are being worn and shown on models. It would be useful for users, however, if they could click on a “Play” button next to the photos and watch a short video about the clothes on models and see how they actually look in reality and in motion.
How users can benefit from Short Videos?
Photos often cannot give a perfect idea for customers about how clothes look when actually being worn. Videos could help customers to get a better idea on this.
Augmented Reality (AR)
The success of Augmented Reality (AR) started with Pokemon Go. Since than AR apps have emerged, and varieties of fields and industries, such as retail or entertainment, started using them. Using the mobile device’s camera, apps with AR are capable of providing immersive experience. (Charlton, G., 2019) “Visual search allows people to search by taking photos of clothing they like to get suggestions for similar items.” (Charlton, G., 2019) Zara and Boohoo are good examples for Augmented Reality.
“Zara launched an Augmented Reality app which allows consumers who have downloaded the Zara AR app to hold up their phones to selected store windows and view items in motion.” (Charlton, G., 2019)
Shopping with mobile apps means customers cannot try the clothes on before purchasing. They cannot see how an item would look on them when wearing. Thus, another great improvement for River Island’s mobile app could be if users standing in front of a mirror could virtually try on the clothes and see how they would look like on them.
How Would it Work?
All users would need, is their smart phone camera and a mirror or a friend to hold the camera. After selecting an item(s) from the menu, users could click on the “Try on” button. By clicking the button, the smart phone’s camera would switch on automatically. Users could either stand in front of a mirror or ask a friend to hold the camera while the application would automatically scan their body and virtually dress them up with the selected clothes to see how the clothes would look like when wearing. Users could change colours of the clothes and take photos and videos that they could even share on social media, email or other platforms.
How users can benefit from Augmented Reality?
Augmented Reality creates a game-link experience for users and boost their shopping experience. Trying on a party dress using a mobile app and a full-length mirror or see Halloween costume in motion for example, is fun and useful at the same time.
Augmented Reality could significantly boost River Island’s customer engagement.
Figure 15 This image showcases how Augmented Reality (AR) could work in real life: the user stands in front of a mirror or ask a friend to hold the smart phone, select the desired clothes from the menu, turn on the camera and see themselves in that clothes. (Photo: Reactive Reality, 2019)
Get Notified When an Item Comes Back in Stock
Notifying customers when an item gets back in stock is a simple but beneficial feature of a mobile app. River Island currently does not have this feature and there are complaints about this in the review of the app.
River Island’s mobile app notifies users if an item is out of stock by a “check stock” button under each item. To improve the app, however, it would be a good idea if customers got notified when an item comes back in stock. Customers could simply hit a “Notify me” button, and if they are registered customers, the app would automatically send them an email notification as soon as the item is back in stock. In case the users has not registered yet, the app would offer them to register.
How Would It Work?
When an item is out of stock, users are notified straight away when they have clicked on the photo of the item: under the photo there could be a notification: “Currently out of stock!” Next to the notification, there could be a “Notify me” button. When clicking on that button a pop-up window would appear informing the user that they will receive an email notification to that email address they had previously given when registering on the mobile app as soon as the item comes back in stock. If the user has not registered yet, the system offers them the option to register.
How users can benefit from getting notified when an item comes back in stock?
This simple notification can boost customer satisfaction and engagement because it saves time for customers. They do not have to search on the app over and over again only to find out the desired item is still out of stock. By getting notified an item is back in stock, customers save time and energy and they can be sure they will never miss an opportunity. This can build trust, satisfaction and engagement.
Design Ideas for River Island Mobile App
Figure 16 On the left-hand side: The home page of River Island’s mobile app. I found that
the menu bar at the bottom was confusing: it was not completely clear which pictogram navigates to where. For example, the looking glass pictogram navigates the user to the menu, while the three dots on the left bottom corner navigate to “My Account”.
The arrangement of the photos in the home page were chaotic, making it difficult for users to navigate.
Also, there was no share button that allows users to share the mobile app easily.
On the right-hand side: I built a clear easy-to-understand menu bar at the bottom of the page
to make navigation and searching easier and smooth for users. I redesigned the entire home page: I used one big image for each different menu points. Menu points follow each other in a logical sequence: on the very top there are the actual promotions and offers (in this case: Black Friday), (Pixabay, 2019) followed by “Trending” option (Pixabay, 2019), which shows the most popular seasonal items. The next menu points show the actual seasonal or occasional items (in this case: Christmas), (Pixabay, 2019) followed by the most common menu points, such as “Men”, “Women”, “Children” (although, these menu points are not visible in the picture.)
A search bar is on the top of every page. Visual search is also available.
I have also inserted a share button on the top of the page right next to the brand name. This
appears on every page, allowing users to share the mobile app any time by one click.
Figure 17 On the left-hand side: The screenshot showcases the menu of River Island’s current mobile app. When using the app, I found that it took a long time to find specific items because the menu was too long and required endless scrolling.
On the right-hand side: In my design the menu shows the main menu points only. Side menus
can be revealed by clicking the “plus” sign next to each menu. In this way, the menu is easier to use and reduces searching time.
Search bar appears on the top of the page, allowing users to search by words and phrases as well as use visual search.
(Photo source: Pixabay, 2019)
Augmented Reality (AR)
Figure 18 These designs are showcasing how Augmented Reality (AR) would look like on River Island’s mobile app. By clicking on “Try Me” button the mobile phone’s camera would open itself automatically. By using a mirror or a asking a friend to hold the camera, the system would scan the customer’s body and shape and dress them up virtually to see how the clothes would look on them. Taking photos and videos would also be allowed, so users could share them with their friends via social media, email or other platforms. While using AR, customers could try the same item in different colours by simply clicking on the available colours on the right-hand side.
This feature is not only beneficial for users who order clothes on mobile app without having a chance to try them beforehand, but also turns the mobile app into a fun game, customers will enjoy using and encourage them to share the experience.
(Photo of Black padded longline faux fur jacket: River Island, 2019)
Viewing a Specific Item
Figure 19 On the left-hand side: This screenshot showcases how a specific item appears in the screen and what options are available for users to learn more about that item. Large images available along with size guide, wish list, share button and check stock.
On the right-hand side: I changed the position of the share button and the wish list button. Instead of placing these buttons on the bottom of the page, I placed them on the image, so users do not have to scroll down to reach these buttons. I also inserted an enlarge button allowing users to take a closer look of the item. Also, there is a “play” button on the top right corner. By clicking this button, users can view a short video about the product.
Along with the size guide, I added a drop-down menu with the available sizes of the product.
I also placed a short description about the item, which users can continue reading by clicking the arrow on the right-hand side. This description not only describes the item, but also give suggestions on how to wear it or what other clothes match with this specific item. (Photo source: Pixabay, 2019)
When an Item is Out of Stock
Figure 20 When an item is out of stock, my redesigned app notifies the user by a “Currently not in stock!” message along with a “Notify me” button. This button allows registered users to get notified by email once the item is back in stock. This saves time and energy for customers as they do not have to check back for the item over and over again. (Photo source: Pixabay, 2019)
Berkowski G. (2015) YouTube “How to build a Billion Dollar app? | George Berkowski | TEDx City University London” [Online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwuEwhX1M_M [Accessed 20 November 2019]
ihimobileapps.com (2019) “8 Tips To Make A Successful Mobile App In 2019” [Online] Available at: http://ihimobileapps.com/8-tips-to-make-a-successful-mobile-app-in-2019/ [Accessed 20 November 2019]
Inkbot Design (2019) “7 Key Ingredients of a Successful Mobile App” [Online] Available at: https://inkbotdesign.com/successful-mobile-app/ [Accessed 20 November 2019]
Larizadoh, A. (2013) Forbes “Eight Tips for A Successful App” [Online] Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/avidlarizadeh/2013/07/19/eight-tips-for-a-successful-app/#5656f53753e5 [Accessed 20 November 2019]
Vasquez, J. (2017) Huffpost “10 Qualities of Successful Mobile Apps in Startup Tech Companies” [Online] Available at: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/10-qualities-of-successfu_b_4391550?guccounter=1 [Accessed 20 November 2019]
Charlton, G. (2019) The UK Domain “See it, snap it, shop it – how apps are changing the world of fashion retail” [Online] Available at: https://www.theukdomain.uk/see-it-snap-it-shop-it-how-apps-are-changing-the-world-of-fashion-retail/ [Accessed 24 November 2019]
Reactive Reality (2019) “Fashion Try On” [Online] Available at: https://www.reactivereality.com/solutions.html [Accessed 12December 2019]
River Island (2019) “Black padded longline faux fur jacket” [Online] Available at: https://www.riverisland.com/p/black-padded-longline-faux-fur-jacket-798440 [Accessed 12 December 2019]
Source of other photos used on redesigned mobile app: https://pixabay.com/