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Zara finally launched online in the UK this month, but it also recently updated its mobile presence, and now offers transactional apps for the iPhone and iPad. 

I looked at the previous Zara iPhone app in January and it was pretty useless, with just a few product pictures, with no prices, and not even a store locator tool. 

I've been trying out the iPhone and iPad apps so see if Zara has improved its mobile offering, but have found plenty of issues with both... 

Zara customers can now browse the collection and buy from both apps, while there is now a store locator tool. Unfortunately, the execution is so poor that Zara is unlikely to drive many sales through this channel without some improvements. 

Homepage

Both apps ask users to select their country before browsing, something which should be automatic,  since the app can detect my location to the nearest 100 metres when I use the store locator tool. 

On the iPad app, despite selecting UK, I am given navigation options in Spanish, though the product titles are at least in English. It doesn't inspire confidence though. 

Both apps are basically the same, and Zara hasn't really made the most of the extra space on the iPad app. The product images are bigger, and that's about it. 

Store locator

Despite detecting my location, the store locator just leaves me with a blue pin on the map. Since my nearest Zara store is about 40 miles away, I have to do a fair amount of pinching and scrolling to find it. 

IMG_0762

Navigation

The navigation is simple enough initially, but doesn't help users to narrow their product selection beyond a certain point. 

IMG_0757

For example, if I select, 'men', then choose the 'suits' sub-category, on both apps I am then given a list of pictures of suits. There is no way to narrow the selection by price, colour, style etc: 

IMG_0758

Product pages

The product pages contain very little information. There are no delivery charges or options, no information on returns policies, and no product description. So unless the title tells you, you can't find out what material the clothes are made from. 

There are at least a few product images from different views, and this does work well on the iPad, then it is a case of selecting the size then adding the item to their basket.

At the point when you select the size though, the 'add to bag' button turns into a green button with the price on, which may puzzle some shoppers. 

IMG_0760

Checkout process

Though it has been designed for mobiles, the checkout process is a poor example. First of all, I'm forced to register before I can shop, an unnecessary step on any e-commerce site, but even more so on a mobile app. 

i have to enter and confirm an email and password, as well as my full address; a postcode lookup tool here would save users a lot of effort. Worse still, I then have to select my 'state' from a huge drop down list: 

IMG_0765

This is annoying enough, but worse still when i find my 'state' (Durham) isn't even on the list. There are plenty of other UK locations missing too, including Devon, Cornwall, Tyne & Wear, Newcastle, and more. 

Also, in the country field below this list, the country is marked as Spain, and this cannot be changed. Users will be wondering whether they can shop from the UK on the app, or whether they should risk proceeding to the checkout with such an obvious mistake on the form.

This is the least of the problems on the app though, since both iPad and iPhone versions crashed when i clicked the submit button to register. I tried several times on each app, and it crashed every time. Useless. 

Conclusion

Both apps have a number of problems which need to be rectified before Zara is going to be able to drive any sales via mobile. There are plenty of usability issues with navigation and product pages, but the fact that neither app actually works is clearly the biggest problem at the moment. 

Zara should be checking out the reviews on the App Store and taking some action quickly. The app has an average score of one and a half stars from 142 reviews, with the word 'useless' cropping up frequently, while there are many complaints about bugs and crashes. 

All of these reviews will be deterring other potential users, so Zara need to address this problem as soon as possible. At the moment, it would be better withdrawing the app than having one that simply doesn't work. 

Graham Charlton

Published 20 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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