For those of you who don't know, Miss Selfridge is one of the latest high street retailers to join, as I like to call it, 'the app club.' Many of the Arcadia brands have yet to join, such as Dorothy Perkins, but finally Miss Selfridge has been put on the mobile map, and I for one am extremely glad. Not because I am a loyal Miss Selfridge fan or anything, but because the apps design definitely raises the bar. Here is why...
So, the opening screen opens to a large promotional shot from a latest collection, beneath a list of alternative menu options. At the bottom is a toolbar with four different options which can be seen throughout the full apps usage. I would also like to note that upon opening the app, the brand logo appears in a short fade in sequence which again is a lovely touch. All very easy and simple so far.
The product viewing is also simple and easy to use. By moving through into 'New in', the clothes are laid out in thumbnail format, three to a row. There are no prices displayed nor descriptions, yet the thumbnails are of an ample size to get an overall impression. The user is able to view the latest garments in a quick view and can click onto any garments of interest if they wish.
As many of the 'No Need for Mirrors' apps have, (the app designers responsible for the majority of high street apps), there is a sort tool and refine option integrated into the product listing pages. The user can refine their search by colour, price and sale items, allowing for a helpful and customised experience. The results of my own PhD research have started to come through recently, and looking at what consumers thought of these tools and how they behave towards them has come out as really interesting. Hopefully I can publish such results asap.
Anyway, moving on, so when you choose an item to look at in detail, I chose this beautiful embellished vest, you are given a number of options to help your evaluation. A large image is displayed on the right hand of the screen whilst additional views are displayed along the left side. By selecting another view, it slides into place as the large image, swapping places with the image chosen before. By selecting the large image, the screen moves to full screen and allows the user to manually enlarge the image, perfect for looking at the finer details. Furthermore, by choosing to open the description bar, signified by an upwards arrow, a pull out menu appears, displaying all of the products information. This includes the colour, item code, a description with fabric and wash guides. Additionally, a feature that I love, is that at this point, the user is offered advice as to the delivery service. So many consumer will come to this point and think, 'Yes Id like to buy it, but it depends how much. Now I will have to find out.' Instead, the consumer can get to this point and be automatically told such lucrative information for purchase. Very clever indeed.
Additionally, as if this area couldn't get any better, there is also an option to view the size guides. Likewise to the delivery information being placed in such a necessary place, the size guides can be just as important for some consumers. By selecting to view the size guides, the user is taken to a specific size guide menu with multiple options depending on the garment. Again, excellent!
I thought I would include this part just to show how simple and fairly persuasive this section is. The consumer can select their size from the options, and are prompted to 'add' it to their bag. Swift, simple and helpful.
Moving back to the main menu, using the small house logo in the top right corner, the user can also choose to 'Shop All.' The layout of this section is slightly different to the 'New In' category, allowing the user to move through category lists into a listed product view. Here the user can view each product by scrolling vertically, and are given both the price and description alongside a thumbnail.
The next menu item is the 'Lookbook,' and if you have read any of my other app reviews, you might have guessed that I particularly like these areas. As a fashion consumer, it is exciting to be shown inspirational new images of the latest collections and they can really help to influence certain consumers. So why exactly some retailers have dismissed to add such an area to their app, I am slightly baffled by. However, this app has done so, and in fact has offered a number of Lookbook options for the consumer to choose from. By moving into the lookbook, the images are displayed again as thumbnails and allow the user to select and enlarge the ones of interest...
The images are then displayed full screen, with or without the bars along the top or bottom. The images cannot be zoomed or enlarged however, so the finer details cannot be examined entirely. However, something they do have is a 'shop the collection' option at the foot of the page. By selecting this tab, another page opens to reveal a products list of the collection items. I adore options like this and make the browsing and buying process so simple. Good job!
The next section is 'Videos' and again I am a big fan of these areas. They come part and parcel with lookbooks and really offer inspiration and advice for the consumer. If they needed an incentive to purchase a product, then they certainly might find it here. The videos are listed as thin, horizontal bars and can be selected easily, opening up a large video page with handy play buttons.
The next menu, 'Features' is another excellent addition. At this stage, the consumer is offered exclusive pages for specific trends, garments or collections, displaying them in a blog and email format style (as below).
The user can scroll down the page to view a beautifully merchandised page of products with prices and descriptions. Each item is fully linked to its own unique product page or the user can alternatively 'shop now' to go to a list view of the products for browsing. This is so nicely done, it fills me with utter glee! These kinds of pages are usually sent via email or offered on the retailers web page, and it has perplexed me as to why they hadn't been integrated into the mobile site yet, therefore thank you Miss Selfridge for being the successful guinea-pig! I love it!
The next area is the blog. The majority of apps have placed their blog onto their apps unoptimised for mobile phones, and unfortunately Miss Selfridge is not excluded from this. A few apps however have utilised bite size blog feeds, with smaller tabs for mobile usage that lead to the blog post. They are so much easier to use and mobile friendly and I was disappointed when I realised that Miss Selfridge had not broken out of the webpage blog format yet. Therefore although this blog isn't as bad as some I have seen, it still isn't all that good either. You still have to zoom in and out to stand half a chance of hitting the right button with your giant finger. Note to all app developers, I hate this.
The next option is the 'scan' tool. The user can scan an items barcode in store in order to find the item on the app. It is useful for those customers who are searching for an item out of stock in their size. They can scan the item and be shown where else they can get it. I am yet to use this option as I generally prefer to just find the item online anyway without the need of the barcode. However, I think I might give this whirl and let you know how I get on.
Right, the 'Check In' option. This is for those consumers who really enjoy social media sharing. When visiting a Miss Selfridge store, the user can check in to the store in order to let their friends know they are shopping there. For some consumers, and especially the younger market who enjoy shopping with Miss Selfridge, this might be a really appealing option. It is also another way that the brand can be displayed across social media for some free advertisement, and of course that is never a bad thing.
The final option, 'My Miss Selfridge', is another area that I have never seen before on an application. This area allows the user to become an ambassador for the brand, offering them news and the chance to upload their own styled Miss Selfridge imagery to the site. Such an idea has been used before and extremely successful. You really need to check out Black Milk on Facebook if you would like an example of consumer led imagery and marketing done the right way. It helps the user to feel like a part of the brand and will increase their loyalty, plus the loyalty and aspiration of others. For that reason, I completely understand why Miss Selfridge have given this a whirl.
Now, moving onto the lower toolbar on the app, the store finder is pretty self explanatory, as always. Handy and helpful. There is also another option, the 'Messages' section, yet when viewing the app there were no messages to view at that time, therefore I left it out. It is just a general area where the brand can send the latest news, promotions and advice to consumers in a way that forms a mild consumer relationship. The scan option can also be viewed from the toolbar, allowing for quick access when the consumer needs to use the option in a rush.
The final option is 'Your Bag,' again very self explanatory. It displays a large image of the garment for final evaluation, the size, price and description. The user can then checkout.
Finally, the user can also view the companies information. On the home screen, a small 'i' logo can be noticed towards the bottom right, leading to the services area. Here the user can read FAQ's, terms and conditions and view the size guides again. However, because the brand has integrated these features into the app so well anyway, this area acts as a back up rather than an essential part of the app. The fact that some apps are yet to add relevant services information for the consumer is still something I find totally ridiculous. So another ten points for Miss Selfridge for being so ahead of the game.
Overall, I find this app extremely hard to fault. It integrates a number of helpful features for the user in terms of customisation, inspirational advice such as lookbooks and videos, informational areas separate and integrated into the product areas and additional features such as the merchandised collections. Furthermore, the interactive features such as the scan in store is a useful and exciting new technology and 'My Miss Selfridge' adds a real character and image to the brand. The blog area could be reformatted to be in a mobile friendly structure though perhaps. That and video catwalks alongside the products for further image technology would be perfection, yet I realise space is a big issue with this. Yet this does not taint how I feel towards this app, its absolutely brilliant.
For that reason, at this point in time, I really think the app deserves 5 stars out of 5.
Screenshots taken of the Miss Selfridge app, June 2012.