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What works: American Eagle Outfitters or Old Navy’s app-driven mobile commerce strategy

August 24, 2012

Retailers are constantly thinking outside the box when it comes to updating their shopping applications. Here is how American Eagle Outfitters and Old Navy have taken different routes with their iPhone applications and mobile sites.

Whether it is for building loyalty or sprucing up the in-store experience, American Eagle Outfitters and Old Navy have made apps a big priority. Both retailers have mobile sites as well, but the brands’ iPhone apps are particularly interactive and engaging, likely given their target audience of young, tech-savvy consumers.

“Younger shoppers are 40 percent more likely to own a smartphone, and with younger shoppers typically always on the go, reaching them is a huge challenge, unless you figure out how to reach them through mobile,” said Seth Diamond, executive vice president of insights at CataputlRPM, a division of HMI, Westport, CT.

“Retailers use mobile to grab shoppers’ attention through social connections, bring them into the store through offers and incentives and help them convert to a purchase through their mobile if the shopper isn’t interested in going to the store, not near a store, or can’t find the item they want in their local store,” he said.

“The smart retailer is using mobile as an integrated part of their marketing and merchandising mix, as opposed to a standalone effort.”

Mr. Diamond is not affiliated with Old Navy or American Eagle Outfitters. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

Old Navy and American Eagle Outfitters did not respond to press inquiries.

Old Navy

IPhone app
Last year, Old Navy rolled out a new version of its iPhone app — called Snap Appy — that is used for both in-store and online mobile commerce initiatives (see story).

One of the biggest draws of the app is an image recognition feature that lets users line up the company’s logo inside a square on the screen to snap a picture. In addition to logos, the app can also be used in-store to unlock content, which is a great way for Old Navy to drive in-store traffic and reward shoppers.

Once the app recognizes the image, users are randomly awarded with “surprises,” which include games, style tips and deals. Users then have the option to share and save them into the app to be used later.

The deals are time-sensitive and include a bar code that consumers can redeem at the point of sale.

An in-app coupon from Old Navy

The app’s styles tab lets users log-in to Facebook and upload pictures of their favorite items. Pictures are displayed both inside the app and on Old Navy’s Facebook page.

The app then aggregates the photos together into a grid to let users browse for inspiration and also sorts the photos into different categories.

When it comes to shopping, the app gives consumers two choices in how they want to shop – either through a commerce-enabled feature or by finding the nearest store.

In-app commerce is pulled from Old Navy’s mobile site.

Having a commerce-enabled initiative is helpful, but the check-out and browsing feature is not any different than the mobile Web experience, which does not give a user an incentive to download the app. Instead, Old Navy has focused its iPhone app on the in-store experience by loading the app with extras that are not available on the company’s mobile site.

Mobile site
Old Navy’s mobile site has a simple redirect to an optimized page at

A store locator is prominently promoted at the top of the page, which either uses a device’s built-in GPS or a ZIP code to find the nearest store.

Users with an OId Navy account can log-in to the mobile site to manage their account, track orders and speed up the check-out process.

The homepage of Old Navy’s mobile site

All of Old Navy’s product categories are stacked on the homepage of the site, making it easy for consumers to find specific items.

Each product category has its own landing page that features swipable photos at the top of the page with the newest merchandise. Products can then be filtered by color, price and style.

Product pages let users zoom in to get a closer look, read reviews, click through different colors.

As users add products to their shopping carts, the site keeps track of the number of items.

The site stores billing and shipping information from returning consumers. Otherwise, shoppers have to fill out a standard form including name, address and payment method.

Besides Old Navy, the site also houses all of the other Gap-owned brands including Banana Republic, Gap, Athleta and Piperlime, which all have similar designs and functions.

Unlike Old Navy’s iPhone app, the company’s mobile site is clearly more geared towards driving online sales. The site is simple but effective.

The bottom line: Old Navy has clearly put its resources into its iPhone app. With image recognition, deals and app-specific content, the Snap Appy app makes consumers want to come back to it, which Old Navy can use to ultimately drive sales — whether it is online or in-store.

American Eagle Outfitters

IPhone app
The American Eagle Outfitters iPhone app heavily incorporates the retailer’s loyalty program – AERewards. Via the app, consumers can sign up and pay their account credit card bills.

Throughout the app, AERewards users receive points towards their account by interacting with content.  For instance, for every two items that a consumer buys, they receive 25 AERewards points. The app also includes mobile-only offers that reward members can unlock.

Using GPS, consumers can check-in to nearby stores. The app also includes a mobile bar code scanner that is powered through RedLaser. Consumers can also take and upload photos and share them to friends and family via Facebook, Twitter and email.

To speed up check-out, users can sync their Facebook accounts to the app to automatically fill in parts of information.

The app also serves as a hub for the retailer’s promotions. For instance a current campaign around finding models for the spring 2013 collection lets users vote directly from the app.

The app mimics the same functions that are available in the company’s mobile site for shopping.

As an added bonus for using the app, trend reports let users shop a look. Consumers can also mix and match outfits, which again ties in with the AERewards program.

The Styler Mixer feature

The American Eagle Outfitters app doubles as an app for American Outfitters-owned aerie.

Mobile site
American Eagle Outfitter’s mobile site redirects at

Compared to Old Navy’s mobile site, American Eagle Outfitter’s is more graphic-driven with a revolving gallery at the top of the page and pictures underneath that match up with different merchandise categories.

A search bar is prominently placed at the top of the page to let consumers search for keywords or style numbers.

American Eagle Outfitters’ mobile site

Tabs at the top of the page divide the site into three sections – home, stores and my account.

A call-to-action at the top of the page encourages users to download the company’s app. The site then asks if it is OK to open the page in Apple’s App Store, where consumers can then download the app.

A link at the bottom of the page lets users sign-up for SMS alerts from American Eagle Outfitters. However, the call-to-action is tiny and easy to glaze over. Similarly, links to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are also small on the bottom of the page.

With more than seven million Facebook “Likes” and 156,000 Twitter followers at the time of press, social media is clearly a big priority for American Eagle Outfitters. To increase its presence even more, the social media buttons should be more prominent on the site.

Products for both men and women can be filtered by size, price, new arrivals, top rated or Web exclusives. In particular, the Web exclusive section is interesting because it gives users an incentive to shop through their device.

Additionally, merchandise can be viewed either as a grid or as a chart. Each item can be viewed through swipable photo galleries. Consumers can then add items to their shopping carts, wish lists, find the item in a nearby store or share it via email, Twitter or Pinterest.

Other American Eagle-owned brands aerie, 77kids and AEO Factory Store are promoted on the site in a drop-down menu and link to individual mobile sites.

To check-out consumers can either pay via PayPal, their American Eagle Outfitters account or as a guest. Although the form to check-out for guests is lengthy, large buttons help users get through the process quickly. For instance, certain features such as gift receipts are hidden and shipping options let users hit the buttons easily.

The bottom line: Online and in-store commerce play a big role for American Eagle Outfitter’s. The retailer has chosen to focus its app on building loyalty with its AERewards program, which is ingrained into every part of its app. The app is successful at giving its reward members an incentive to download and interact with the app.

“While younger shoppers are more likely to own a smartphone, it isn’t the entire universe of their core shoppers,” Mr. Diamond said.

“So a retailer needs to deliver some common services on both its mobile app and mobile site,” he said.

“The mobile app should be thought of as a more exclusive, personalized experience – as the shopper has already taken the effort to find the app, download the app, and try to use the app.  With a mobile site, there is less upfront effort required to begin using it.  There needs to be something in exchange for the effort.”

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

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