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American Eagle Outfitters boosts mcommerce by enhancing in-app merchandising

American Eagle Outfitters is looking to take advantage of the expected surge in mcommerce sales during the holiday shopping season with enhanced product merchandising in its mobile application.

The teen retailer recently updated its app to include pinch and zoom on product pictures as well as the ability to read product descriptions on every product page by swiping up. While the update is an important step in the right direction by better meeting the needs of mobile shoppers, it stops short of providing the social integration that leading mobile merchandisers are embracing.

“These are nicely done and as features they do a good job making the product hero, but pinch/zoom and easy access to product descriptions is standard these days and consumer expectations are pretty clear about that,” said Anne Sophie Hurst, senior client services director at Fluid Inc. 

“The app does try to make Checkout easier by using a one-page Check Out and a Scan Credit Card feature – though I could not make it work as the app kept crashing – which are smart ways to make mobile checkout easier and key to increasing mobile conversion,” she said.

“There are a lot of opportunities to take advantage of mobile including socializing the Product Detail pages with more than just reviews – showing number of times shared/bought/liked and including things like Instagram feed of their consumers wearing their outfits – that this app does not do.”

Ms. Hurst is not affiliated with American Eagle Outfitters and spoke based on her experience.

American Eagle Outfitters did not respond to a request for comment.

Mobile-savvy shoppers
Mobile commerce continues to be the fastest growing area of ecommerce and while its percentage of overall retail is still relatively small, if retailers do not have a strong mobile app experience they risk losing mobile savvy customers

Recognizing that teenagers are among the most advanced shoppers on mobile, the American Eagle Outfitters app places a big emphasis on enhancing the shopping experience.

For example, it boasts the ability for users to shop new arrivals before anyone else, full-screen photos, Passbook integration for its Aerewards loyalty program, in-app notifications and the ability to scan a credit card.

Enhanced personalization
One strategy American Eagle Outfitters and other retailers are likely to employ during the upcoming holiday season is a greater emphasis on personalization in their apps.

“The app consumer is a more loyal consumer than those using mobile Web so really using the data learned about their behaviors and preferences to personalize the experience more and more will be key to keeping them engaged,” Ms. Hurst said.

Fast-moving retailers will also be taking advantage of Apple’s release of its latest software update – iOS 8 – and its new phone, the iPhone 6, to enhance the mobile app shopping experience before the holidays.

This is something a number of retailers have already done by integrating Apple’s Touch ID to streamline the checkout process (see story).

“Continuing to take advantage of the new features that leverage the native capabilities of the phone – thumb print log in for iPads, Apple Pay for iPhones, enhanced camera ability etc. – will also be important for retailers to embrace in order to stay ahead of the curve,” Ms. Hurst said.

App-based promotions
One strategy American Eagle Outfitters has seen success with is app-based promotions enabling shoppers to earn a discount they purchase in the app or show the app in store. An American Eagle Outfitters executive speaking at eTail West 2014 earlier this year reported when the retailer tried this strategy, it led to a tenfold increase in app downloads and the app ranking No. 2 in the Lifestyle category (see story).

As American Eagle Outfitters and other teen retailers continue to fine-tune their mobile app strategy, one area of focus is likely to be enhancing the social shopping capabilities.

“There a number of apps that retailers can learn from including Spring (shoppable curated Instagram feed of favorite brands), Munchery (food delivery but they do a great job of romanticizing the product), and off course Modcloth who does a great job of involving their community in everything from merchandising, selecting new lines to produce, and user generated fit descriptions,” Ms. Hurst said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York