11.3.12

Oasis


Oasis was one of the first retailers to jump on the app bandwagon as I remember. They have always kept it simple and no frills, caring little about the added extras, but focusing more on the products they were trying to sell. In some cases, this is definitely the right approach, keeping things minimal to not detract from the primary goal, yet it is always something I have disliked about this app. There was something just lacking. However, with a few new additions in the past month, the app is starting to resemble a true fashion channel.


The opening screen is usually always colourful and adorned with a recent promotional image. The menu, unlike many other apps that place a menu toolbar across the bottom, is stacked down the right hand side, and only on navigating back to this home screen is the user able to access the additional areas. There are six areas listed in total, with an additional three at the bottom, a settings icon, a messages icon and a shopping bag. 


The 'Shop' and 'New in' tabs take the user to similar product lists. 'Shop' takes the user initially to a category list screen, moving from broad categories such as 'clothing' into a secondary screen with narrower categorisation such as 'dresses.' After selecting the appropriate category, the user is shown a vertical list of horizontal product bars consisting of an image, title description and a price. At any point, the user is able to either revert back to the home screen, or view their shopping bag on the bottom toolbar. 


A feature that has been recently added are the merchandise categorisation tools. The user is able to refine their product selection by type, colour, price etc. or alternatively they can 'sort' the merchandise by price - low to high or vice versa. This is an essential app tool, as without it product search becomes unbearably tedious. 


After selection of a product, the user is taken to the product viewing screen. The layout of this screen is different to many I have viewed before, mainly due to the thumbnails being shown on the right and the addition of the jumping movement on choosing a new image - a newly selected image jumps into position as the focal image. The product information is this time displayed on the screen, and on the chance that the information is too long to fit within the space, the user can scroll down to view more by moving the text. However, this tool is fairly hidden and a consumer may not realise there is more information to view. Yet generally, the information amount is ample and not too overbearing on the product page.  


By selecting the main image again, the screen moves to full screen and allows the user to view the garment in more detail. Here they can tap through the additional views or alternatively manually zoom into the image by using the pinching screen motion that us iPhone users love. It gives the user lots of options of how they want to evaluate the product and is essential for the majority of consumers.


The user is additionally able to share the item or save the photo to their album. The majority of apps now also link to Twitter, yet this retailer has opted to allow sharing on only the Facebook network, with the additional option to email the photo to friends. 


The next area available on the menu screen is 'Looks.' This area is intended as a source of new product inspiration and outfit styling. The user is able to choose from a number of thumbnail images, to which the screen is zoomed to full screen for enhanced viewing. From here the user can then vertically scroll through the remaining full screen images. I am always a fan of these areas as I feel that all brands need to at least attempt to portray their vision to their loyal or new consumers, especially the latter. It does create inspiration for the consumer and in a lot of cases will lead to the consumer hunting through the products to find the ones they have seen. It is well laid out, and allows for either small screen or full screen viewing, which should suit a multitude of viewers.


The wish list area appears next and is seemingly concurrent with that of the shopping bag. On a product's individual buying page, there is a large option to add a product to your wish list. On this selection, the product is added to the wish list area from which the user can edit the product, view the page again, add it to their bag or email their wish list to others. It is a nice tool to have on an app, often titled as 'favourites' or 'saved bag' but the purpose is synonymous. If it wasn't there, I do believe it would be missed by many.


The blog space is fairly disappointing. Like so many other retailers who have dismissed to optimise their blog space for mobile, Oasis have merely added their website blog to a section titled 'Blog.' There is no incentive for the user to read it unless they can be truly bothered to, and will take twice as long for them to read due to having to locate small links or zoom in and out. It is an area that a retailer can use to promote their brand, their recent promotions and latest news. It should be seen as a priority for many retailers who are attempting to acquire and retain consumers.


The final menu item is the store locator. As always, the user can find their nearest store and the easiest directions. It is a standard feature on every retailer app, for those users who only use an app to find out how to get to the nearest store to shop.


The app also consists of three separate areas, found only be selection of the three small icons at the bottom of the menu screen.

The first is a settings tool allowing the user to edit how the app communicates with them. They are able to turn on (or off) app notifications and change the currency. It's fairly mediocre stuff, yet when I selected the button, I expected to find services information, brand information or even an FAQ's section. However, such an area does not exist on this app, and I always see this as something quite unforgivable. Information for the consumer should be first on their list of priorities.


The second icon opens a messages page. At the time I viewed the app, there were no message to view, making the section seem somewhat worthless. Sending the consumer 'messages' would be more efficiently done via either email or through a blog feed, yet of course for that to work, the retailer has to first integrate an optimised blog feed...


The third area is the shopping bag. Fairly standard practice with an edit and checkout button. 


An excellent feature offered from this retailer is the ability to collect your items from a store, or to alternatively have them delivered. This may be a great incentive for some consumers, and will possibly encourage more purchases, yet I feel that this option should possibly be mentioned earlier on in the browsing process. If there was a services information section, this sort of valuable information could be placed in such to inform consumers who are thinking of purchasing. But of course, there is no services information area...

Overall, the app is not all that bad. It has certainly upgraded within the last 18 months to include more essential features, yet it is still missing some crucial components. It manages to integrate a blog yet it is unoptimsed, and for that reason it becomes fairly pointless. It also utilises a 'looks' area to inform users of the latest clothing collections whilst also inspiring their ideas and style. The wish list and general product pages are also useful, with zoom tools and alternative product images, allowing a thorough and informed product experience. For this, the app is deemed much more useful and satisfying. However, it does fail to integrate an unoptimised blog as mentioned, and it doesn't include many forms of style or trend advice other than the looks area, i.e. videos, catwalks or style areas. It most importantly has not integrated a services information area for the consumer, to inform them of the most crucial information - returns and delivery policies, size guides or contact information. This is such a disappointment after so much effort has been put into the apps design. Therefore, this leaves Oasis with a star rating of 3.5 out of 5.

Screenshots taken of the Oasis app February 2012


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