Leading UK department store Debenhams has rolled out an iPhone app – bucking the recent trend for m-web among top flight retailers – to meet a growing demand for mobile access from iPhone users. It also views an app as a better way of delivering a rich experience in store on mobile.
Designed by No Need For Mirrors, the app meets the needs of the 280,000 users that have been hitting the retailer’s website via iPhones over the past few months. Other OS versions of the app will be available before Christmas, the company says.
So why an app? Simon Forster, online trading director at the company, explains: “We did an app first because it allows more interactive features such as bar code scanners, store finder and wish lists. We were also seeing 280,000 unique visits from iPhones only, so doing this was the natural fit.”
The company is planning to roll out on m-web in the not to distant future, but for now the app offers the engaging and embracing experience the company wants from mobile.
In fact, Debenhams is being quite visionary with using the app. According to Forster “We are embracing the fact that people use their mobiles when they are out and mobile not just as a channel to buy things”. To this end, the app is designed to offer Debenhams users the chance to use mobile to not only remotely shop, but also to enhance their experience in store.
The app is also a way round a problem peculiar to high inventory outfits such as department stores where a website has to be very granular and on multiple pages. An app interface allows for better demarcation between product types and an overall better search experience.
The bar code scanner in the app is being billed by Debenhams as a ‘virtual shop assistant’ and the retailer is also planning to use QR codes in it shop fronts and its adverts to add yet more interaction between iPhone users and the store.
While there have been some raised eyebrows over the decision to app it within the retail community, reviews on the App Store have been very positive, with one even suggesting that this is best shopping app yet.