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Fashion retailer Oasis launched an iPhone app this week, which allows shoppers to browse through the latest outfits, read the newsletter, and find your nearest store.

I was asking which UK retailers have mobile commerce sites earlier this week, and didn't manage to find many examples. While this app is not quite an m-commerce site, you can select items on the app and pay via the main site.

Mainly, the Oasis app allows users to browse through the latest collections, read the newsletter, find the nearest Oasis outlet, and browse through the looks for inspiration:

Oasis iPhone app homepage

It doesn't display the full Oasis product range, but instead showcases new arrivals. Once users have received the daily update, they can browse through the app's content even when offline.

The 'looks' option provides several outfits to provide ideas:

Oasis app looks

Clicking on info will give you details of the individual items so you can recreate the look:

Oasis app

A store locator is also provided, which uses your current location to find your nearest Oasis store, as well as Oasis outlets in Debenhams and other retailers. Directions are provided to the store via Google Maps, though this options wasn't working when I tried the app.

Oasis app store locator

Also, the option to search for a store in a particular town or area would be useful, in case you want to find a store where you will be later in the day, rather than your current location.

As you browse through the items displayed on the app, you can add any to your shopping basket from the product pages and select the required size:

To actually complete the purchase, you will need a decent internet connection, and will be sent to the main Oasis website. Here's how it looks on an iPhone screen:

Oasis checkout on iPhone

At least shoppers are sent straight to the checkout stage with items all ready to purchase, but it isn't great from a user experience perspective. It's near impossible to read any of the text without zooming in, and since delivery charges / times etc have not been provided via the app, some uses will want this information.

Also, the fact that Oasis insists on registration before checkout makes the whole process more difficult. Users are required to fill in six fields in this form before they even get to the address and payment stage.

I suspect that only the most determined shoppers will attempt to complete the whole process on their mobiles, given this user experience, and most will wait until they get back to their computer or go to their local store.

There are alternatives though; Oasis could provide a mobile-optimised checkout, as Interflora does with its mobile site, provide a phone number for customers to call and place an order, or provide a speedier process for registered users; if they have card and address details already saved, then the checkout process would not be so painful.

Checkout usability aside, it's a decent iPhone app, and Oasis can look at how many people want to shop through the app and perhaps make it easier to buy. Still, it's the first iPhone app to be developed by a retailer in the UK, so Oasis deserves credit for its forward thinking.

Graham Charlton

Published 5 June, 2009 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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