30.11.11

Back to Basics: River Island keeping it simple


River Island app

River Island didn't hang around when it came to developing a mobile app. They have had an online presence now for quite a while, and realised that they needed to claim a piece of the mobile pie early on. Recently, they updated their app to coincide with their brand design update, revamping the typeface and logo to suit the modern consumer market. Their app design follows suit, presenting a clear, simplistic and basic structure, with little else to cause a fuss.

River Island app

The home screen is clean, easy to navigate and acts as a portal to every area of the app. From here, the consumer can choose to shop the womens, mens, girls or boys apparel ranges, view the services information, open their wish list, view their bag or read promotional messages from the brand. It is designed to offer ease of use to the user and succeeds in doing so.

River Island app

By selecting the 'Women's' tab, the user is taken to a scrollable list of sorted ranges. Beginning with 'Get the Look' the user can view all of the River Island collections, utilising the brand's advice to buy styled and trend-led collections. Below this section, the user can shop by garment type, i.e Dresses, Playsuits, Tops, until they scroll to the bottom of the page to see further categorised collections...

River Island app

As above, the brand is offering the user an assortment of categories to suit any refined option. If the user wants to view all of the dresses together, they can. If they want to view the latest collections, they can, or if they want to shop by workwear, casual wear or party wear, again they are able to do so. However, although River Island seem to be covering all bases by allowing the user to shop by what River Island 'Love,' it all seems to get a little bit too much. I almost wish that such categories, that have been designed more as an advisory feature, would be possibly stored in a separate area, titled as 'Style Advice,' or something similar. I feel that they become lost in the list of 20+ categories and need to be singled out. 

River Island appRiver Island app

When the user has chosen which category they would like to view, the items are listed 1x1 vertically down the page. Alternatively, the brand has integrated a customisation feature on the page, a small page layout button at the top that re-constructs the layout to include only images side by side in rows of three (as above, right). Customisation techniques such as this are seldom seen currently, and are a brilliant way to offer the user an alternative product viewing experience.

If the user opts to use the 1x1 layout, they are specified the colour, product type and price of the product with a reasonably large image set against a white background. The user is also able to furthermore filter the products by type, colour and price to get a more refined search. Again, another excellent and essential feature.

River Island app

When the River Island shopper has selected a product to view, they are taken to the individual product page. It consists of a large image, a secondary image and a zoomed view if the user is savvy enough to click on the image itself.  The user can also share the product with social networks or 'Love' the product to add it to their wishlist.

River Island app

By selecting 'More Info,' information about the garment including a description, the fabric type and colour is presented to the user. Hiding the product information away behind a separate tab is a design feature used often by fashion retail apps in order to leave more room for the viewing of the product. It keeps the page clean and clear and a user who is more interested in the possibility of purchasing the garment, can view the extra information if they need to.

River Island app

The item can then be added to the users bag by selecting their size from the scroll wheel. One drawback of this technique is that an excited consumer may only realise the product is out of stock in their size when it comes to this point.

River Island app

Another personalised feature that is available on the product page, is the 'Wear with' option. The brand has linked products with other accessories and garments that they can be worn with, so that the majority of products on the app have the ability to show you other products that could form a full outfit. It is a helpful and useful feature, and something that is perfect for the target audience of this retailer.

River Island app

Moving away from the product viewing, as mentioned previously there are four other areas of this app, available from the home screen. The first is the information area, symbolised by the infamous 'i' symbol. Here the user can view frequently asked questions, contact the retailer, view size guides and terms and conditions whilst also altering their account information. The layout is simple and clarified and the categorisation will allow easy usage. The amount of fashion retailers who do not offer such an essential service is astounding, and it is brilliant to see that River Island has incorporated such necessary information for their purchasing consumers.

River Island app

The second area, the messages tab, collects small messages sent from the retailer to the app (to the consumer), that contain promotional codes and special deals. Unfortuantely there were no message available to me when I was looking for one, but quite often there will be one or two messages containing free next day delivery codes or information about new collections. It creates a personal service for the consumer, where they feel that their loyalty for downloading the branded app is rewarded by being sent these small and personal promotional messages. However, if there are no messages, it does feel somewhat dissapointing.

River Island app

The third area is the wish list, or as it often known, the saved bag or favourites list. On each individual product pag, the user is able to press a small heart symbol at the bottom of the page - a symbol that recognises the product as something that you 'love.' How apt. After choosing the heart symbol on any product, it is automatically added to the users wish list, so that all the items they desire can be found easily later. It is a nice idea, and doesnt take much effort for the user. As all of the images are also placed side by side without information, it could form a great tool for outfit building and allows the user to view how colours will work together.

River Island app

Finally the fourth area is the users bag. Symbolised by a shopping bag shape, the user can view all items that they have added to the bag, edit them, empty them or finally checkout. It is again clear and simple and does not make too much of a fuss.

Overall, the app is ample, designed as a shopping channel, and not much more. There are no frills or bows, just products and lots of them. Whereas many retailers are utilising their app to showcase the brands personality, offering blogs, style videos or social media updates, River Island are merely selling their products to loyal consumers without the need for added extras. I can see why they might have done so, yet at the same time, giving those loyal consumers something more to look at cannot be too hard can it? Incorporating promotional imagery of the latest collections for inspiration or integrating a River Island blog into a section of the app would not be too difficult and I'm sure, would definitely be positively received by the River Island consumer. So why havn't they done so. Im sure they have their own reasons...

However, this app does have a lot of good points. The quick, easy and professional design of the product pages allowing a fast route to purchasing is a big plus, and something that many apps have yet to master. At the end of the day, it is ease of use and an easy purchasing experience that consumers are looking for, so hats off to River Island for that. With a few added extras, this app could be something truly special. Until then, I award the app a 3.5 out of 5 and a recommendation for download.


All screenshots taken from the River Island app, 30/11/2011.

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