Private online shopping site Vente-privee released an iPhone app last week which allows users to access the sales from the main website and make purchases via mobile. 

I’ve been trying the app out…

Before you can browse through the sales or buy from the app, it is necessary to register if you aren’t already a member. Since many of the app’s users will be current registered customers, this may not be such an issue, but it could be a barrier for new users. 

This is because there are quite a few fields to fill in to register; name, address, date of birth, job, as well as entering and confirming an email address.

All of this data entry can be a pain on a mobile, and some of this pain could have been avoided by offering more shortcuts for the user; such as a postcode lookup tool to save typing the full address in, or auto-filling some areas of the form. 

The homepage of the app shows the current sales on offer, as well as upcoming events. It also provides links to the various parts of the app, allowing you to review your latest orders, refer friends, or review the contents of your shopping basket. 

One useful feature, since sales are held over limited periods of time, is the ability to bookmark upcoming sales, and receive a reminder via email or through the phone: 

Once you have chosen a particular sale, you can choose your product categories and scroll down the page to see prices. Fast checkout buttons have been provided within search results pages so that items can quickly be added to the basket: 

The product pages on the app are detailed enough, providing plenty of product information and a range of product photos from different angles: 

Some information that would have been useful is missing though, such as delivery costs and, while the call to action is a clear pink button, it appears below the fold. A more prominent position may be more effective. 

The checkout process has been designed specifically for mobiles, so transactions stay within the app, and the forms are relatively easy to fill in. 

Since this is a private sales site, stock is limited, so customers have a limited amount of time to complete purchases once they have added items to their basket. This is communicated clearly to customers though: 

They are also informed when time is up: 

This limited time period is another way of creating a sense of urgency in customers’ minds and pushing them towards a purchase, a tactics successfully employed by several private sales and group-buying websites. 


The Vente-Privee iPhone app is well -designed, and provides a usable way to purchase from the website while on the move. Since some customers may not be in front of a computer to access the main site when there is a sale they are interested in, this mobile commerce offering makes a lot of sense.