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H&M first launched its mobile app way back in 2010, however up until January this year you couldn’t actually use it to make a purchase.

Most major retail apps are transactional these days so it’s surprising that H&M has taken this long to make the upgrade, particularly as research shows that a majority of consumers expect to be able to make purchases using retail apps.

Now it just so happens that I’m on the look out for new some jeans, so I thought it was the perfect chance to see how easy it is to buy something using H&M’s Android app...

Navigation and product pages

The first thing to note is that navigating the app is extremely easy as it uses a simple layout and nice big icons that even the fattest thumbs will find easy to press.

This seems obvious, but not all app developers get it right.

The product pages are also look fantastic, although the usability may take getting used to if you aren’t someone that uses apps very often.

                      

Personally I think they’re great as the product images fill the entire screen, with the description accessible via an ‘i’ button in the top right.

Other functions - such as additional product images and size and colour options - are available by pressing the relevant buttons at the bottom of the screen.

When you click to add the item to your bag a graphic shows the product moving up into your shopping basket, so you’re not left guessing whether it’s actually worked.

As someone who uses apps on a regular basis I feel the design is extremely intuitive and fun to use.

Shopping bag and checkout

The shopping bag gives a decent summary of your order, including the size, colour, cost and an image of the item, though it loses points by refraining from adding the delivery cost until you’ve reached the checkout. A big no-no. 

Furthermore, H&M forces new customers to register an account, which is a major barrier to purchase and a lead cause of checkout abandonment.

In fact, this is where the user experience began to fall apart in my opinion. Ideally you want a mobile checkout to be short and simple, involving as few steps as possible.

It’s no coincidence that Amazon and eBay are both incredibly successful at mobile commerce, as both have one-touch payment systems. However H&M app developers have put up several barriers to purchase, probably without even realising it.

                      

For example, when it initially asks for your address it doesn’t stipulate whether it wants a delivery or a billing address, so I entered my home address by default.

However when it comes to delivery the app doesn’t allow you to enter an alternate address, so I had to go back and re-enter the Econsultancy office as my home address to make sure that somebody would be around to receive my order.

Another issue is that the default payment option is a monthly invoice, which I’ve never come across before and almost placed the order by accident before I realised that I had to navigate to a dropdown menu to select the credit card option.

Offering alternative payment options is best practice in ecommerce as not all customers are comfortable paying by credit card online, so H&M scores points for offering three different options including a payment slip in the parcel.

This range of options explains why H&M requires all customers to register upfront, however personally I feel that most people would expect a credit card payment to be the default option.

Navigation during the checkout process is also a problem, as if you use the back button on your handset it asks if you want to abandon the checkout process altogether.

The final nail in the coffin was the delivery options. Not only was the delivery window from April 15 to 19, which is potentially an eight-day wait for my clothes, but I found out at the very last minute that postage costs £3.90.

A survey conducted by Econsultancy and TolunaQuick found that the most popular reason for checkout abandonment was hidden charges (71%), concerns about payment security (58%) and technical problems or slow loading pages (44%).

Once you are in the checkout process, what would deter you from completing the purchase?

Unfortunately in these days of free ASOS deliveries, £3.90 was too much for me to bear, so I didn’t end up buying my new skinnies.

In conclusion...

There’s a lot to like about H&M’s app and I’m a big fan of the navigation and product pages, however in my opinion the checkout has one or two small UX issues that undermine the overall process, particularly for new customers.

One major problem is the fact that it doesn’t allow you to enter an alternate delivery address, as it means you have to go back and re-enter information which is incredibly frustrating on a mobile phone.

Forced registration, a vague delivery window, lack of upfront delivery cost and navigation issues also serve to sully the shopping experience.

Overall then, though I initially enjoyed browsing the app and looking for products, the checkout process undermines the UX and was enough to put me off making a purchase.  

David Moth

Published 11 April, 2013 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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