Very.co.uk has launched a new iPhone app as it seeks to further bolster its mobile revenues.

The fashion retailer is owned by Shop Direct and this is the group’s first transactional app.

Mobile is now its largest sales channel, accounting for 58% of online sales at Very.co.uk over Christmas.

The app allows users to browse the full product range and also includes an image recognition search tool.

Read on to find out what I thought of the app, or for more on this topic read our posts on House of Fraser’s new mobile app and Shop Direct’s content strategy.

Homepage and navigation

The app has a fairly standard design, which is absolutely no bad thing.

The homepage has links to different features and full navigation options are hosted in a hamburger menu.

It’s very simple and means users should have no problem finding their way around.

     

Product pages

The product pages have a neat uncluttered design that has been achieved by stripping out a couple of the features found on desktop.

It still includes customer reviews, several images, product videos (which loaded extremely quickly), and a detailed description.

But gone are the three different ‘suggested product’ tabs and the zoom tool.

As an aside, I also noticed there’s no obvious way of finding out the delivery cost either on desktop or mobile.

     

When you click the ‘Add to basket’ CTA the app encourages users to head straight to the checkout, which increases the chance that a mobile user will actually buy something.

Checkout

All Very.co.uk users are forced to register an account before they checkout, which isn’t ideal as it’s a major friction point.

Even so, many brands choose to keep a login as it means they can track customers more effectively.

     

However Very.co.uk makes the situation worse by not providing a facility for new users to create an account within the app.

In order to get to the checkout I had to first go onto the desktop site to register an account, then go back onto the app.

In reality I doubt any new customers would bother with this process, but then would new customers download the app?

The checkout itself is very quick and easy because Very already has most of my details.

Standard delivery costs £3.95 which seems rather steep compared to other fashion retailers.

Weirdly I would have been able to submit the order before entering my credit card details. I’m not sure how this works, but I assume it has something to do with Very’s obsession with making customers create an account with them.

This allows customers to receive a monthly invoice and pay for their orders in instalments.

It’s a system that has worked extremely well for Next as people like the convenience of doing all their shopping from a single store and delaying the payment.

Account functionality

I couldn’t test this myself as I don’t have an account with Very.co.uk, but it enables people to check and manage their account details.

Customers can track their orders, check their balance and available funds, and pay their statement.

I can imagine this would be extremely useful for loyal customers and will also help to convert some casual users into more regular buyers.

That APR looks very reasonable…

Image recognition

One of the app’s most publicised features is an image recognition search tool that allows shoppers to search for similar items on Very.co.uk just by taking a photo.

‘Snap Style’ is mentioned on the app homepage and also features in the hamburger menu dropdown.

Image recognition isn’t exactly new technology, which is why it’s surprising that the tool has a few bugs.

For example, when you take a photo using Snap Style the resulting image is a massively zoomed-in version, so you can’t actually see the object you initially photographed.

And for some reason I wasn’t able to pinch and zoom to make the image smaller.

These pictures show what I mean. On the left is the shot I lined up, on the right is the resulting photo.

     

The quality of the search results can also be quite variable.

If you scan a block colour then the results tend to be very good.

But say I wanted something to match a simple black and white pattern. The image I searched with is on the left, while the right-hand screenshot shows one of the product suggestions. Not exactly what I was expecting.

     

In conclusion…

Very.co.uk has produced a useful app that offers a decent UX and simple navigation.

The problems that I found were mainly to do with its business model (forcing people to register), though the much-heralded image recognition also needs a bit of tweaking.

Overall though the app is a good addition to Very’s mobile commerce offering and should help to further increase its revenues through this channel.