By Brianna Ahearn, contributing writer
American Eagle, the teen clothing retailer, is planning a revamp of their website to make it easier for teens to shop easier online on mobile devices, and also recently released a new version of their mobile app, AEO/ AERIE. The news of the upcoming changes came via a Trib Live article.
“The flagship opportunities for almost all retailers and the company's success in this area will define the brand,” says Michael Rempell, American Eagle's COO, at the Oppenheimer Global Consumer Conference in Boston last week.
“We want mobile and we want digital in general to be the best expression of our brand,” Rempell says. “The most complete expression of where you can see our best assortment, where you can get the best view of our lifestyles and where our customers can have the best shopping experience.”
As part of the revamp process, American Eagle's AEO/AERIE mobile app received an update earlier this month, with the addition of Reserve, Try and Buy. Available in select stores, Reserve, Try and Buy lets shoppers browse for the looks they want and have it put aside to try on in-store for 24 hours, with no charge for reservations. The retailer's last big technology update to their mobile app was the addition of Apple Watch in May, but the mobile app lets teens streamline the shopping process, from entering a credit with their device's camera to adding their rewards card to Apple's Passbook so they can manage their loyalty program.
American Eagle will also outfit its sales staff with iPads so salespersons can order items for customers in-store, then have it shipped to the customer's home, right on the floor. The update of mobile devices in-store makes the process easier, which relied on customers having to visit a check-out register to place an order. The iPads are reported to be in-stores by the end of 2015.
Retailers aimed at the younger set have struggled for years, and are constantly looking for ways to attract the teen crowd. Teen shoppers are notoriously fickle, and one way to keep their loyalty is to make it easier for teens and their parents to shop anytime, anywhere. American Eagle's optimization of their website will ensure the browse and buy process will be quicker, and connecting it to a physical store shows the retailer's commitment to the omnichannel experience.
2015 has been the year of the struggling teen retailer, with casualties such as catalog favorite dELIA'S folding and 338 Wet Seal stores closing. While dELIA's will live on online thanks to a reboot this month, a January Money article shows the struggling world of teen-geared retailers reporting booming sales at stores like H&M, while other former “hip” stores like American Apparel are posting significant losses. This trend is because analysts say teens are more interested in the cheap “fast casual” fashion world of H&M, Zara and other clothing chains. Even the mall culture is struggling with teens preferring to shop online, and many malls across the U.S. have implemented curfews for individuals under age 18.
With the wandering tastes of teens and the ever-changing world of the teen retailer industry, American Eagle looks to see how they can gain the youth dollar. The retailer reports they're closing 150 of their stores, but that their mobile app sales have doubled in the past year.