The research says that today’s prospects of online shops spend 89% of their time on smartphones in apps. In general, mobile applications are intended to simplify the customer’s shopping experience and make it more personal. Innovations like machine learning, artificial intelligence, and e-commerce automation tools now allow improving search queries, purchase history, shopping cart, social behavior, geographic location, and other functionality of your app.
But which features make the most impact on your customer’s experience? And how can you upgrade them? To understand this, Lemberg’s team together with Shopest analyzed popular fashion and apparel apps like ShopStyle, Poshmark, Zara, Rent Runway, Asos, Etsy, Gilt, Keep, The RealReal, Shopbop, SHEIN, Nordstrom, Forever 21, Stradivarius, Modnakasta, Harag, etc.
The most important pattern we noticed was that all the brands pay a lot of attention to how searching and browsing perform. The reason is that users spend most of the time in the app, basically, looking for a needed item; thus, they are key features, which also allow delivering the most personal experience.
The Shopest app case. Earlier Shopest developed a mobile application that helps search items available in local stores. Our goal was to bring this application to the next level, according to the best practices in ecommerce industry. So, we started from improving and redesigning the search.
Search button visibility
Since the search is a major feature of these apps, the search button should be visible and accessible from all pages. The best solution is to place the button on the bottom navigation bar menu as it is visible on all core pages and the user can easily reach it for interactions.
We don’t recommend placing it on the top side of the screen. In this way, the button becomes less reachable, and it has to be duplicated on all pages of the app. The duplication accrues to misunderstanding whether the search is more general or related only to the page where it is placed.
How it will be implemented in Shopest app. There was a search button on the top of the screen, and to find some extra features, the user had to switch between pages. To make it better, we will place all searching features on one page, the search button will become more visible and easier to reach as it will be located on the natural area of the screen.
Browsing by categories
The best way to browse goods is when they are grouped in categories by type. This helps users quickly get acquainted with the available products’ assortment and makes the searching process more flexible and discoverable.
The best placement of the categories option is on the initial state of the search page. If users see an image in the category’s items, it helps them quickly recognize the thing that looks right.
How we will apply it to the Shopest app. The current Shopest app provides the opportunity to browse items by categories and the user should go to the filter hidden in the type section. So, to make it more convenient, we will move categories to the search page and offer the user as an option to begin their search by choosing one of them.
The hints list appears when the user is typing in the text field. It’s a very familiar feature for all users who used the Google search even once.
Nowadays, autosuggestion is a default feature in advanced searching, and the absence of this feature could disappoint users. This feature could be improved in the case of searching goods by adding the counter of available products by typed word.
In the next version of Shopest we will also add auto suggestion as a search feature, so the user will be able to find items much faster.
The recent search helps users quickly go back to previous search results from the list of recently typed words. The list is displayed before the user starts to type.
This feature belongs to the default functionality of searching as well as autosuggestion.
It is better to present it with clear options to provide users with the feeling of control over the collected searching data.
The recent search will be available for Shopest users as well, and here how it will look:
Extra search features
In some apps we found non-ordinary search features like search by photo or voice search. We do not plan to add them to Shopest app as for now, but we still consider them as examples of interesting e-commerce app functionality.
Search by photo. As an extra feature, the ASOS mobile application allows getting search results using a photo taken in a store or elsewhere. This could be a really useful experience to make searching faster. You just need to take a photo of something you like and then upload it to the app to get results if this store has it or something similar.
Voice search. This feature could be more useful than photo search, but it works only on the Android platform as the app uses Google voice assistance to record the words. The feature became more powerful with the latest OS (9 Pie). The app launcher shows a recently used feature in the app, and users can start searching without launching the app.
After deeper analyses, we can summarize that the key success factor for application in searching and buying fashion goods could be the advanced search. Users expect to find what they want in an easy and understandable manner. Some of the market leaders in the e-commerce fashion industry are using voice or photo searching in their apps. Nevertheless, these features won't help them to maintain leading positions in the market without continuous improvement of their products in other areas.
Personalization, sustainability, coordination, and cooperation are this year’s trends in the e-commerce fashion world. Both the brick-and-mortar stores and online shops should use new market strategies and pay attention to the latest and future trends as consumers continue to seek products available digitally and locally. So, their first step is to help consumers find what they want quickly and effectively.
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