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Shopping aggregator site ShopStyle has launched a iPhone app which allows users to buy fashion items from a range of retailers, including John Lewis, Net-A-Porter and others.
The ShopStyle app, launched this week, lets you browse through 4,000 brands, and then either email links to purchase later, or buy straight from the phone.
Navigation / product search
The app provides some good options for browsing its product range, and it works pretty smoothly. You can opt to search by brand or product type, before narrowing the selection further by choosing sub-categories:
This works well to a point, but there needs to be more ways to narrow the product choice as, once you have chosen a product type and sub-category, such as accessories / hats, you can be left with a lot of products to scroll through.
What the app needs here is to provide more ways for users to narrow down the number of products, by colour, price range etc.
The product lists are well presented, and resembles the visual browsing features introduced by Zappos recently, but the amount of images means that it can be slow to load on a mobile.
The search option works well too, also presenting results visually, and actually provides some good filters for users. Before you select a search term, you can choose to look only at sale items, or narrow by price range:
Product pages have to be relatively simple on a mobile, and these definitely are, just giving users the price and a brief product description. For delivery charges and other details, you need to go to the retailer's website.
You can choose to see a full screen image of the product, though alternative views etc are not available. After this, you can choose to save the item to your favourites list for next time, or email the link to buy the product from the main website.
Making a purchase
If you want to buy from the app, you will be sent straight to the product pages on retailers' websites, which are not optimised for the mobile screen.
There is little ShopStyle can do about this, unless partner retailers happen to have mobile sites, and not many do, in the UK at least.
This isn't great from a usability perspective, though the experience differs according to the particular retailer's checkout process, with some easier to negotiate on a mobile than others.
Even on the best checkouts though, it's difficult to read any of the text and get through the process without a lot of zooming in and out, waiting for the next page to load, and entering email addresses, card details etc.
ShopStyle might as well provide this option, though I suspect that the poor user experience may convince a lot of shoppers to wait until they get to a PC to complete their purchase.
The ShopStyle app looks good, and has some good features, but it suffers from a lack of filtering options, and the drawbacks of buying online from checkout processes which have not been tailored to mobile users.