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Victoria’s Secret risks me-too pitfall with app update

November 25, 2013

The new Victoria's Secret iPhone app

Victoria’s Secret has updated its iPhone application with a design that mirrors the same cookie-cutter shopping experiences that a majority of retailers already have in place.

The lingerie retailer recently updated its iPhone app with a new homepage and design that is in portrait mode and features a more bare-bones design. Previously, the app was set up horizontally with menu buttons along the bottom of the app.

“A well-positioned brand recognizes that consumers will often arrive on mobile web and then remain for the mobile app,” said Phillip Penny, lead mobile user experience designer at Wapple, London.

“Thus, both platforms remain relevant in today’s marketplace,” he said.

“But while familiar, the experience must be tailored to the platform in question. Cookie-cutter experiences are bad and should be avoided wherever possible.”

Mr. Penny is not affiliated with Victoria’s Secret. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

Victoria’s Secret did not respond to press enquiries.

A mobile shift

The Victoria’s Secret iPhone app has been updated to include a new portrait design.

Now the app has been updated with a new feature that lets consumers shop by scrolling down the screen.

The homepage of the app features new promotions that lay out across the page as seven bars.

The homepage on Victoria’s Secret’s iPhone app

When consumers click-through on a promotion to shop, the app pulls in Victoria’s Secret’s mobile site.

Although the design is more intuitive, it is also less compelling for consumers and could signal a less prominent role for branded apps as retailers roll out more advanced mobile sites.

Retailers’ mobile sites and apps are increasingly offering similar features, which could cause marketers to undervalue apps.

The in-app shopping experience 

However, Victoria’s Secret app still includes a few features that are exclusive to a native app.

For instance, Victoria’s Secret is publicizing a new in-app scanning feature more broadly since it rolled out in October (see story).

The feature lets consumers scan the retailer’s catalog to shop products. The feature also links with Victoria’s Secret rewards program to bring loyalty cards to life.

Victoria’s Secret’s Android app still includes a horizontal-facing design.

The Victoria’s Secret app has also been updated to include a new message center that aggregates news about the brand, offers and store-specific events. Victoria’s Secret regularly pushes content to the in-app message center to trigger app use with push notifications.

Mobile wings

In previous versions of the app, Victoria’s Secret has pushed the boundaries with its mobile app with features that are designed specifically for the platform such as games or photo-based campaigns.

For example, Victoria’s Secret continually leverages its app with game-based campaigns to drive engagement and sales (see story).

With a majority of the company’s efforts focused around building up loyalty through its app, Victoria’s Secret would benefit from differentiating its mobile Web and app shopping experience.

“Without a doubt the most important factor in the orientation debate is the content being served,” Mr. Penny said.

“Games are often in landscape mode since this allows for much better two-handed usage, whereas I would suggest that the content on Victoria’s Secret is more suitable for portrait viewing due to often portrait imagery for which the brand is known,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York 

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