By Christine Kern, contributing writer
American Eagle Outfitters is preparing for the upcoming holiday shopping season by adding enhanced product merchandising in its mobile application.
American Eagle is also introducing substantial changes to its e-commerce platform. It has enhanced its digital site, including the new denim shop, and incorporated a 360 degree view of the products. It has also re-launched its mobile app, which will make the shopping experience more intuitive and simplified for customers.
Earlier this year, Forbes speculated on the role that American Eagle Outfitters’ Omni channel initiatives would play in making it competitive in the market. Over the past few years, their direct-to-consumer business (which mainly includes e-commerce) has seen rapid growth, driven by the increasing popularity of online retailing.
The retailer’s direct revenues increased from $307 million in 2008 to $467 million in 2012. Even during fiscal 2013, when the company struggled in the tough retail environment, its e-commerce growth remained positive, with online sales increasing by 24 percent in the first quarter, 11 percent in the second quarter and 17 percent in the third.
The updated app now includes pinch and zoom on product pictures as well as the ability to read product descriptions on every product page by swiping up. An important step in the right direction by better meeting the needs of mobile shoppers, the update does not provide the crucial 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. Ms. Hurst is not affiliated with American Eagle.
“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.”
Retailers need to focus their attention on mobile commerce, which continues to be the fastest growing area of ecommerce. 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
The new American Eagle Outfitters app places a big emphasis on enhancing the shopping experience, a feature that should target teenagers, who are among the most advanced mobile shoppers.