The etailer has bypassed the mobile-optimised website or mobile app dilemma by creating a mobile web app.
The long-standing debate over whether to launch a mobile-optimised website or a mobile app has strong arguments on both sides, but many retailers are now realising it’s OK to launch both, as long as each has a clear and individual strategy.
Etail giant Asos this month launched a combination of the two with a mobile web app (as opposed to a standard downloadable app) called Asos Daily Edit. Duncan James, Asos editorial and design director, says it opted for a mobile web app because it is simpler to update and evolve: “From a build perspective, it gives us more flexibility across mobile platforms and we can develop it quicker. For the customer, it’s easier for them to find as it will sit on the mobile site.”
The premise of the Daily Edit is a vastly reduced selection of product which is split into various sections. These are divided into lifestyle options such as ‘Holiday’, ‘Date night’ and ‘Work’ and each section contains 12 products that can be anything from dresses to accessories.
Users can flick the screen from right to left to scroll through section options and once they click on one, can flick upwards to scroll through the product selection. A button lets users add any product to their ‘Hot list’. Once a product is clicked on, multiple views are available, and users can share the product with friends on social network sites or ‘shop’ the product, which takes the customer through to the product page on Asos’s site from where they can make their purchase.
There are a number of clicks that the user has to make if they wish to buy the product, which is something many ecommerce experts advise against. However, James defends this decision, saying the Daily Edit is built for research purposes. “Customers either come to Asos knowing what they want, or to get ideas, say for an event coming up. The Daily Edit app is designed for the latter. We want customers to use it as a research tool – a way to refine what’s on the site. And to discover items they perhaps hadn’t thought of.”
At present the Daily Edit is only available in womenswear, but if successful, Asos plans to create a menswear version by Christmas.
Five essentials — Launching mobile apps
- Carefully plan which platforms your app should run on Which handsets matter most? While the iPhone is generally a ‘must do’, don’t forget that it’s only about a third of the total smartphone audience (and significantly smaller than Android). Given your objectives, how narrow can you afford to be?
- Does the app add value to the customer experience? There are now 1 million apps out there and it’s increasingly difficult to achieve visibility. So you need to be very clear as to the problem you’re solving or the experience you’re enhancing. Then be ruthlessly honest in judging whether your concept is genuinely competitive and compelling.
- Make sure your app is part of a seamless multichannel shopping experience Shoppers don’t think in terms of channels, so neither should you. They want to move fluidly between the desktop, the mobile web and apps. This makes it mandatory to offer a seamless solution across log-in, search results and URL strategy.
- Invest appropriately in user experienceAccording to Deloitte, 80% of branded apps get less than 1,000 downloads – and even fewer get used for longer than a month. These are scary thoughts for budget holders. The best defence is to make sure your app has a clear and useful purpose, and then work really hard to ensure the interface, navigation and design help deliver that purpose.
- Don’t scrimp on testing App store reviews and ratings are highly visible and highly influential. It goes without saying that a flood of negative comments will reflect poorly on your brand. But it’s amazing how many apps launch with avoidable bugs, simply because insufficient time or money is spent on testing.
Alex Meisl, Chairman of mobile marketing agency Sponge
p Asos in your hand: screen shots of the app