Net A Porter is brand I have a great admiration for. They always seem to remain a step ahead, leading the way in the pure-play designer market. Their website portrays elegance, sophistication and minimalistic style, creating an exciting and aspirational place to shop. Their new app format has managed to do just the same. Sleek, simple and superior, the design embodies the Net A Porter brand whilst delivering an easy and fashionable portal to purchase. Only recently have they updated the app to include all of the product lines and further brand information, and I am so glad they have taken the time to do so. The app is an asset to the company, alongside their iPad magazine app and of course their pure-play website, and the three combine to form an exceptional collection of channels. So here is why it is so excellent...
The opening screen is vibrant, colourful and individual. The brand has gone straight to the products, asking the consumer whether they would like to shop by shoes, clothing or bags etc, by not only asking, but displaying a product image of the same. They are also able to look at 'Whats new' in products and to view a 'Designer A-Z' category list so that every type of categorisation has been offered. It makes an interesting change from a generic list of product categories.
It is after choosing the type of products that you want to view, that the lists become available, yet the simple capitalised font and clear navigation is simple and easy to use. After selecting a category, the user is taken to the page, above right, displaying the garments in rows of three in a vertically scrolling page. The user is also given the ability to refine and sort the page according to price, designer, colour and size. Excellent.
The individual product pages are again simple and compact. The image is displayed centrally with the ability to scroll horizontally through further views. In this instance, there were five alternative images for the garment, allowing a more in depth evaluation of the garment. The only information on the page at this point is the price and designer name and takes no focus away from the garment.
Yet, if the consumer would like to view more information, they are able to tap the designer name and price to reveal an information section. It is in-depth, sophisticated and simple, the perfect amount of information for consumers who are deciding whether to part with a substantial amount of their hard earned pounds. The 'Editors Note' creates the impression that a specific fashion editor has evaluated this product for you, giving their interpretation of this garment. In addition to this are product details, sizing information and for those consumers who are interested in this collection, there is a handy link to the rest of the collection area. I have never seen a product information section so concise, it is bordering the lines of perfect at this point in time.
Further to this, the product pages also allow the user to add the product to their bag, or their wish list - which will move the item into the wish list area, accessed via the toolbar. For those users interested in social media, each product can also be shared via Facebook, Twitter and email, in another handy and compact drop down box. They really have covered all bases here.
Second on the toolbar is the 'News' area. Almost like a small news channel, this area is brimming with trend news, product and collection information, event news and videos and anything else the brand has to say. It looks chic, fashionable and interesting, and Im sure there is something for everyone to read. I am certainly inspired.
The 'Live' section is an area unlike any I have seen before. When I first saw this area, I thought it would be similar to H&M, in that it may consist of live social media feed updates. However, rather than a feed of what the retailer has been up to, it is a feed of what other consumers have been up to, or buying, in fact. The 'Live' area allows the user to discover what other shoppers around the globe have been viewing and adding to their bags and wish lists. Like I said, I haven't seen this feature before, and I truly understand why they have done it. Viewing what other people are loving and buying creates a sense of an urgent need. I am filled with jealousy, lust and inspiration, wondering how others will wear the piece, and if I could fit the garment with any other garment in my closet. I am struck down with envy and I need to have the item too. Very very clever.
The wish list fits the general standard. A pictorial list of garments that you have added to your wish list for later viewing, or as a hint to your boyfriend who of course will never see your app... but we can all dream. It allows you to add the item to your bag straight from this area or alternatively you can view the item again. Either way, it is simple and sufficient.
The shopping bag is again standard. Horizontal bars of each garment with the name, description and price, with a final total price at the end. The list can be edited, or the user can proceed.
The final area, 'More' is also more then expected. The user can log in to the retailer, log in to Facebook for easy sharing or view the help options. Neatly and simply presented, the user is offered every help topic from shipping information to their security risks. Covering every possible consumer question, help or service areas that are as in-depth as this reduce the consumer risks tenfold, and I'm sure the number of purchases is greatly increased on an app that utilises such an area, to one that does not. It is simple and necessary information and it baffles me how many app still do not offer such essential information. Luckily, Net-A-Porter have, and they have done it very very well.
Overall, this app includes simple and easy categorisation, an elegant and clear design, relationship and communication features such as the latest news and a live consumer buying feed. A wish list for later purchases, a services information area for every question under the sun and social media promotion tools. I cannot really fault this app. If I had to scrutinise, I would say that perhaps a defined video area would be useful, so that all videos were kept clear and separate. Another area that is lacking is promotional photography and shoots, the type of imagery that allows you to imagine how a product could be worn and styled in a particular setting. The kind that truly inspires. Yet, due to the professionalism of the rest of the app, these features are barely missed and perhaps would only clutter up such a sophisticated space. I award this app a 4.5 out of 5 with a hope that one day I might be part of the Net-A-Porter mobile team and I could take it to a 5.
All screenshots taken of the Net A Porter app, February 2012.