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French Connection is the latest fashion retailer to get into mobile commerce, with the launch of an iPhone app this week.
I've been taking a look at the new app...
Homepage and navigation
The first page asks you to select men's or women's, though I'm not sure where the man in the sea with an inflatable donkey fits in. Following this, a menu page offers links to various sections of the site. It looks good, though it is a little bit cluttered:
Once you have selected a sub-category, there are no filtering options to narrow the product search.
This is fine is you're looking for men's shoes, as there are only two pairs available through the app. However, for categories which contain more products, then this doesn't help the user experience.
For example, if you select dresses, then there are at least 30 to scroll through (I gave up counting after that) without any way to narrow the choice by price, colour, style etc.
Also, there is no site search option. Browsing can be time-consuming on mobiles, especially with the lack of filters on this app, and a search box provides a convenient shortcut for users.
I have to praise the product pages for the choice and quality of the images. Each product page I saw had at least four images, and all could be enlarged.
However, there is a lack of information on product pages, aside from a brief description of the item. This means no information on available sizes, as well as delivery costs and timescales.
Like so many other apps, this one insists that new shoppers register before they enter the checkout process. Every extra step means more time and more hassle for users, so registration can be a major barrier to purchase.
In addition, the registration process is a pain. I have to enter my name and email address before setting a password, then I need to enter address details.
To make matters worse, I have to enter billing AND delivery address details, as well as having to re-enter my name in this section when I have already provided this information.
There is no option to use the same details, which is common practice on just about every e-commerce site in the world. There is also no postcode lookup tool, something which is a valuable shortcut for mobile users.
In mobile commerce, where every extra step or form field takes longer than on the web, making users fill in name and address details twice is absolute madness.
The checkout process has been designed for mobile, and probably works well if users already have an account and therefore don't have to enter address details, but there is a lot there which could deter new customers from making a purchase.
The store locator works on the standard way, by detecting the user's location and displaying the results on a map. However, the information is basic, and you can't even click on the number and call the store straight from the page.
In addition, the app doesn't provide directions to the nearest store, which is a useful feature common to most mobile commerce apps.
The FCUK app looks good and contains some useful elements, but is let down by a poor registration and checkout process for new customers.
It may fine for account holders, and this may be the audience that French Connection is targeting with the app, but it couldn't make it much harder for new users to make a purchase.