Apple Watch

From ASOS to Zara: The A-Z of Retail on Apple Watch

As ASOS and Zara take steps to secure the custom of early Apple Watch adopters, what does it mean for multi-device browsing and purchasing habits?

While the internet has been abuzz with Apple Watch related news for some time, a lot of it has been focused around the device itself; how it exacerbates our pre-existing addiction to the tiny electronic instruments clamped tightly in our sweaty palms or how it could revolutionise the way we track our fitness, so long as you don’t have any tattoos of course. It seems that very little of the news that I’ve consumed has been about the apps that will actually be affixed to our person and, what little there was, focused around fitness trackers and miniature social media feeds.

It came as something of a surprise then (to me at least), that two fashion retailers — namely ASOS and Zara — have used their cat-like reflexes (this may seem like an odd analogy, but ultimately everything on the internet comes back to cats) to jump on the Apple Watch bandwagon within days of the launch.

So what — if anything — does this mean for the future of browsing and purchasing across multiple devices? While there is little in the way of concrete information available on Zara’s app (being a lowly peasant child unable to afford said Watch I am unable to test first-hand), from a distance it seems to focus on delivering snippets of look book-style content to the user, alongside more standard information notifications on stock and shipping updates.

Focusing on the look book content seems like a smart play for Zara; their existing content in this field is some of the best out there (in my humble some-time fashion blogger opinion) and pinging bite sized snippets of this to my wrist would not be unwelcome in the in-between moments we all usually fill with our phones anyway; waiting for a train, in line at the bank (although I can’t remember the last time I actually did that — but hey, you get the point). I can imagine it being much less fiddly than grabbing my phone from my pocket or bag, only to have to stash it away again seconds later when my train/bus/horse and cart arrives in a hurry.

Although I’m currently unsure how much further the Zara app takes this (and any clarification on this would be welcome indeed), the ASOS app utilises a ‘Move to Bag’ call to action which seems to be designed with a seamless multi-device browsing-to-purchase pathway in mind.

This would take full advantage of something which my own research as a UX designer has suggested to be true; while most people are happy to browse at length on a mobile device, the majority (or certainly those of us who remember the dulcet tones of a dial-up connection) prefer to purchase wrapped in the security blanket of a larger screen which a tablet or desktop experience brings. Even against my own better judgement I often find myself coming back to a product later on desktop to finalise my purchase — although this is more to do with frustrating UX than any fixations over security that many seem to have.

With people seemingly so unwilling to convert on mobile devices, this could mean a more concerted effort to encourage increased browsing and discovery behaviour on these smaller screens, with active calls to save for later, send an item to desktop or — in the case of the ASOS app — to move to bag for purchase later in the day. Certainly in terms of current mobile designs, the purchasing experience is far from perfect and there is massive scope for improving this experience before we give up on mobile conversions altogether as a primary means of purchase. As a short-term solution though, pushing the browsing experience as the primary goal of small-screen use could be an avenue worth exploring and capitalising on.

As for the Apple Watch, it will be interesting to see how many other retailers feel confident enough to invest in wearable devices as a means to showcase their product, and indeed how much success ASOS and Zara have with their entries into the market. One thing is certain, it presents yet another head-scratcher for UX designers to solve in the epic and ceaseless battle (ok, maybe a touch too much) to design truly usable products for multiple devices.