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Fashion retailer Zara released an iPhone app recently, which falls well short of what a retailer could achieve with an iPhone app, in terms of promoting products and providing useful information for users.
The app offers a few pictures of its clothing range and new arrivals, but little else. Having looked at the app, I do wonder why they have bothered at all...
What does the app do?
While several retailers have been releasing mobile commerce apps recently, others are dipping their toes in the water by releasing apps which provide info on the latest products, and the Zara app falls into this category, allowing users to browse through some of its collections:
What doesn't it do?
The problem is, once you get to a product, all it does it show a single picture, with no other information at all:
If I was interested in the jacket in the screenshot above I might want to know the kind of material it is made from, what sizes it is available in and, oh yes, the price.
There is also no store locator tool or even a contact number, which is a big missed opportunity, as customers who decide they like an item would surely appreciate this information. Indeed, a recent survey put finding the local store at the top of the list of most popular shopping activities for smartphone users.
If I did persevere and go to my local Zara store and decided to buy the jacket, other information might be useful, but this is missing too.
For example, why not provide the product name or item code so I phone or go to an assistant in store to check prices and availability? Why would this crucial information be so difficult to add to the app?
Retailers are supposed to make it easy for people to buy from them, but Zara is making its customers work far too hard to find and buy anything from this app. While I suppose I should applaud it for creating an app in the first place, it seems to have missed an opportunity to promote its products more effectively.
User reviews of the app
A quick look at the App Store tells me that many of the people who downloaded the app, presumably people with an interest in Zara and therefore potential customers, are pretty disappointed with the app.
Over 1,500 people have reviewed the app, so the interest is clearly there, but the reviews are overwhelmingly negative, making the same complaints I have just outlined about lack of prices etc, as well as the instability of the app.
Zara's Flash-heavy website
More than a year ago, I included Zara in a list of well-known retailers who were yet to sell online in the UK and, while some like H&M and Clarks have launched transactional sites, Zara has still not taken this step, which is a huge missed opportunity.
Worse still, the Zara website is pretty poor, and commits the usability crime of hitting users with sound when they open the website, something which is intrusive, and an instant turn-off for many web users.
It is Flash-heavy, difficult to use, and like the app, doesn't give any information on prices, products titles, codes and more:
There is at least a store locator tool on the site, but it could hardly be more difficult to use. First of all, you will only see the link to the store locator if you move your cursor over the bottom 10% of the page, then you have to select your continent and country from a long, tricky to scroll list.
After this, rather than making it easier for users by allowing them to search by town or postcode, or even pinpoint the area on the map, you have to scroll up and down a list of 40+ UK stores, before attempting to click on the one you want (the site scrolls so fast, this can be tricky).
Then, when you do find it, the information provided is the bare minimum; no opening hours, no description of where it is or map for directions, just an address and telephone number:
The continuing refusal (if that's what it is) to sell online seems like a huge missed opportunity to drive extra sales, but Zara is not even using its web presence, and its mobile app, to drive sales to its stores.
Simply by providing some basic information and tools, such as prices, products codes, effective store locators, it could at least make more of its website to at least help customers browse online and find local stores. At the moment, it is doing all of these things either very poorly, or not at all.