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Luxury shopping app drives foot-traffic to haute couture boutiques

The Haute Guide application directs shoppers to fashion stores based on neighborhood or lifestyle categories

New York shoppers looking for the best in fashion and design can now download a premium iPhone application launched by fashion insider Abbey Samet.

The Haute Guide application is geared toward discerning consumers and regularly updates its content to include new stores and seasonal fashion information. It was developed using the Toura Mobile App Producer platform, and is available for download in the Apple App Store for $4.99.

“Haute Guide is a living shopping guide, meaning it has real time updates so that customers can get up-to-the-minute information about new stores opening up in New York’s rapidly changing shopping environment,” said Abbey Samet, founder of the Haute Guide, New York. “We felt that printed versions of shopping guides, like Where to Wear and nyc are out of date the minute they are published.”

Abbey Samet is currently a fashion director at Macy’s, and has held editorial and consulting positions at Saks Fifth Avenue, The Doneger Group and The Tobe Report.

Toura uses its technology platform to help travel and tourism companies develop smartphone-based mobile guides.

Shopping in style
The application includes a number of features that are meant to simplify shopping in New York City.

Users can search for stores based on neighborhood or by “Lifestyle” – a feature that allows consumers to locate stores based on contextual categories of products, including:

• Hamptons Weekend
• Chic Ski
• Surf and Sport

Each neighborhood section within the guide includes a blurb about the area, as well as a list of shops located therein.

Here is a screen grab of one neighborhood page:

A map feature pinpoints store locations so that users know exactly where to go for all their fashion needs.

Finally, the application includes editorial content for each business chosen for inclusion, and lets users view images of items offered in the stores.

Ms. Samet said she began Haute Guide after noticing a deficiency in mobile content for consumers of high-end goods.

In an industry that prides itself on exclusivity, Haute Guide aims to be the definitive mobile guide for luxury shopping.

“After a simple analysis of what was available for the savvy iPhone user and shopper, we found that there were no apps being offered that targeted the ultra-informed shopper,” she said. “We didn’t include some of the obvious stops in NYC, but instead focused on unique, chic, interesting, quality stores that are purely editorial yet shopper-friendly.

“We did not seek out advertising and partnerships that would inhibit us from including the stores we wanted and stores we felt were too pedestrian for our shopper.”

The guide is intended to reach experienced and discerning shoppers, as well as members of the fashion industry, with the application.

“The app is targeting women who are savvy shoppers, but don’t have a lot of time to shop and tend to shop by lifestyle need,” Ms. Samet said. “The app was also targeted for fashion industry insiders who come to New York to shop for inspiration.

“Finally, we felt that Haute Guide is great for out-of-towners from Europe or other countries, who come to New York to specifically shope some of the best boutiques and department stores in the world,” she said.

Haute Guide markets itself as a premium application, and, as such, the only revenue it generates is through the download fee.

The developers made the conscious decision to leave the application ad-free.

“We looked at the market for high-end editorial guides, such as Zagat and Fodor’s and they are all based on a pay-per-download model and not inclusive of advertising,” Ms. Samet said. “For that reason, we thought our customer would appreciate an ad-free experience.”

The Haute Guide is reaching out to fashion media, travel media and fashion bloggers to promote the blog and get the word out.

Luxury gets a mobile push
The launch of Haute Guide comes as luxury brands are beginning to explore the mobile space.

For example, luxury retailer Neiman Marcus will have a fully integrated mobile strategy by this fall (see story).

Likewise, apparel brand Lacoste has been experimenting in the mobile space (see story).

Echoing the increasing luxury push into the mobile realm, Haute Guide plans to continue refining its editorial content as it gears up for expansion to new cities across the world.

“There are key lifestyle shopping experiences that Haute Guide plans to launch in the coming months such as a ‘Bride’s Guide to a NYC wedding,’ ‘Shopping for Kids,’ ‘Home Décor’ shopping as well as a men’s shopping guide,” Ms. Samet said. “In addition, we are planning to expand to cities like Los Angeles, London, Paris and more.

“We will go where the stores are and give the customer a highly curated experience of the must-shop stores,” she said.

Final Take
Peter Finocchiaro, editorial assistant at Mobile Commerce Daily, New York.