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Shop Direct brand Very, formerly Littlewoods Direct, has recently launched shopping apps for both iPhone and iPad which allows users to shop from its fashion range. 

I've been impressed by some of the early e-commerce apps on the iPad, especially that from Net-a-Porter, so I decided to test VeryFashion on iPad to see how it compares...

Navigating through the app 

The navigation menu for the app only appears when you click on the link in the top left, otherwise all you see is a photo of various items, none of which can be clicked on. 

The various options are displayed in a list, which is basically the iPhone app's navigation placed over the image: 

IMG_0002

The navigation on this app is nowhere near as usable as it needs to be, and users need to be prepared for plenty of scrolling if they want to browse and find anything on the app. 

If I select football shirts, I have a long list of 60+ shirts, displayed in no particular order. If you are looking for a particular team, then at least an alphabetical list would have been useful, but this is just a random jumble: 

IMG_0004

This is where some filtering options would be useful to help users narrow their search. There are more than 60 football shirts, and this means a lot of scrolling down a list; the fact that you have to select 'more' to see the next ten items on the list makes it even more annoying. 

For football shirts, you can sort by long or short sleeved, brand, or customer rating, something which is pretty useless when it comes to football shirts: 

IMG_0009

The main Very site (also viewed on an iPad) has a far better range of filters. You can sort by which league a team plays in, by colour, and by team, saving a lot of work for users. Some of these options would make the app for more usable. 

IMG_0021

This lack of filtering is even more apparent for other product categories. If you select shirts, there are are more than 400 to choose from, yet the only way to narrow down this selection is by sleeve length, brand or customer rating, which is nowhere near enough. 

This lack of filtered navigation is a major problem for the usability of the app, and since the main site has some excellent options for narrowing users' searches, iPad users would do better to ignore the app and head straight to the desktop version of the site, which works well enough on the iPad. 

Product pages

The product pages are too basic, with no information on delivery charges or returns policies. There are also a number of basic usability flaws which are liable to irritate shoppers.  

For example, if you want to buy a Newcastle United home shirt, you have to select the colour before you can add to the basket, even though there is only one option:

IMG_0007

Checkout process

Customers need to have an account to shop on this app, something which Very fails to explain clearly at any point during the purchase process. This makes the whole checkout very irritating for those without a Very account, or who would just like to pay by card. 

On the desktop site, you can either shop via account and buy now, pay later, or just pay by credit or debit card, but the latter option is not available through the app, which eliminates a number of potential customers. 

So, the unsuspecting user who just wants to buy a jumper ends up entering into an application for credit without a clear warning of what is happening; the word 'account' being the only vague clue. Well, that and questions about the length of time at your current address: 

IMG_0015

Perhaps this is all there in the T&Cs, if you can read them. If not, the unsuspecting shopper is put through a credit check without being fully aware of it. This should be made very clear to customers. 

IMG_0018

This insistence on either having an account already or creating one renders the app almost entirely useless to the shopper who has seen it via the App Store and decided to download it. 

Conclusion

This app is not a great example of e-commerce on the iPad, and is so full of usability errors that any iPad users wanting to shop with Very would be better advised to ditch the app and head for the main Very website.

Very seems to have simply adapted its iPhone app for the iPad, instead of treating it as a unique device to be designed for separately. As a result, Very's app looks very basic compared to those from Net A Porter and Gap. 

Graham Charlton

Published 3 September, 2010 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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