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Retail Review – Rob Thurner, Managing Partner, Burn The Sky – Score 16/25 (IRM52)

First Impressions (3/5)

Very Exclusive. the new venture from Very and Shop Direct, went out with a prediction that by 2015 every transaction would involve a mobile device at some stage of the customer journey. Its responsive site and native apps looks set to deliver against this vision.

VE’s digital strategy has two strands:

1. Cross platform route to purchase: understanding how consumers switch between different devices – mobile, tablet and desktop – as they move along the consumer journey. Data from the mobile advertising specialists shows an estimated 80% of users exposed to mobile ads go on to complete the purchase via a tablet or PC.

2. Second-screening: aligning mobile marketing with’s online and TV activity. Media planners’ campaign recommendations are based on research showing over

80% of smartphone and tablet browsers regularly ‘second-screen’ using their device in front of the TV – at least once a month.

VE has invested in a mobile optimised site and native apps. Whilst the product ranges accessible by browser and app vary significantly, I’m impressed by some of the functionality of the app, which justifies investing in both platforms. It’s clear VE has a solid understanding of its shoppers, and makes it easy to find, browse and buy. The site and app are heavy on discounting – right from the 10% offer on the homepage, encouraging shoppers to buy now, and pay by instalments.


Search & Navigation (4/5)

From the search menu, this site is quick to access, with string links to ‘Mobile-friendly’ landing pages – homepage, product pages, and well orchestrated reviews on opinionformer sites like, and an interview with founder Sarah Curran in Marie Claire.

Every brand faces the same challenge of driving app downloads. VE’s text book approach targets existing users of the original Very app to promote the recently launched My Very app. The homepage offers users to click to download MyVery, and VE also uses push notification from the original app. I expect they’re A/B testing the right time, place and connectivity to optimize download results.

Once on the site, there’s nothing fancy about the search and navigation. It’s very functional, if lacking in visual excitement to match the product range. Personally I’m liking the new breed of retailers site with side swiping to access navigation menus, and find VE’s drop down ‘Shop’ menu clunky and interruptive, obstructing product shots and descriptions. The same feature is used in the app under the ‘Departments’ tab.

On the plus side, the Snap & Match your Style feature is a really smart, and well executed feature in the native app. Whether shoppers spot a hot outfit in the style mags, or glimpse someone on the street and want to get that look, the MyVery app integrates the camera and matches the photo to the product catalogue. Quick and easy … returning quite a selection of choices. Here’s the closest match I found earlier for the white summer mini dress.


Products & Categories (5/5)

On smartphone and tablet, the product area is the highlight of the site. Products are easy to find; the photography is excellent, and multiple product shots from different camera angles leave nothing to the imagination. This is particularly impressive on tablet, with a neat vertical carousel. The refined search function is complete and easy to use. The advanced search makes it easy to refine the search, and add to your wishlist or basket.

Shoppers can also check out the most popular products with a real-time display of unit sales. That’s handy for the competition too!

Great quality product shots, from every angle, and real-time updates on sales

‘Our stylist also suggests’ and ‘You may also like’ reveals a healthy degree of personalisation across the site based on previous browsing and successful check outs, and retargeting.

Much of the responsive site experience is duplicated in the app. The added bonus with the app is a range of men’s clothing, which is conspicuously absent from the site.


Payment process & Check out (1/5)

Payment and check out is pretty frictionless on the site, and it’s easy to redeem the discounts offered throughout the site and app journeys. Security is clearly designed in with strong payment security icons.

It’s clear VE caters for the ‘buy now, pay later’ audience, messaging site and app users repeatedly with staged payment terms. VE must be commended for making the small print not so small with details of APR interest terms at a single click telling shoppers what they’re getting into with staged payments. Take a note, other retailers offering under hand credit …

Discounts offered prominently across the site. APR details also very visible.

There’s room to improve the account registration section on the app, which was a surprisingly poor experience with small data capture boxes. It’s not such a smart move to include 0844 premium rate numbers for shoppers to order now, though doubtless a nice little earner.


Post purchase (3/5)

The usual collection and delivery options make the post purchase end of the journey positive. I particularly like the delivery day and time feature – why can’t all retailers and utility companies offer this?

While I wait for my delivery I’ve seen video ads targeting me on my iPad at home whilst connected via Wi-Fi.

On smartphone, re-targeting happens at home and on the go – reaching iOS and Android users connected via 3G or Wi-Fi. Ad formats used are high impact and awareness-focussed, delivered as interactive rich media, display and social media.

The new app, MyVery, pushes rich content directly to app users which saves sending monthly ‘Very Edits’ to keep the brand front of mind without bombarding shoppers’ crowded email in boxes.

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