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H&M to drive traffic in-store with first app

Apparel and accessories retailer H&M has debuted its first mobile application to encourage brand awareness and drive foot traffic to its store locations.

The iPhone application includes photos and videos featuring a number of items from the retailer?s catalogue, as well as a store locator. It can be downloaded for free in Apple?s App Store.

?With the application, H&M is acessable to our customers wherever they are," said Håcan Andersson, spokesman at H&M, Stockholm. ?It´s a channel to communicate our business idea, fashion and quality at the best price, show our latest collections and offers, as well as our Style Guide and Fashion Video, to name only a few of the features that you can find in the application or on our website.

?We always want to surpirse our customers, and this is a way of [doing that]," he said "As in all other marketing, this is an invitation to visit one of our stores.?

Stockholm-based creative agency Mobiento and digital user interface studio ustwo, London, partnered to develop the application.

How it works
The application?s homepage includes featured promotions that users can slide through with their fingers.

Here is a screen grab of the homepage:

Consumers can view the various items available through the promotions by clicking through from the homepage.

Clicking through from promotional graphics brings users to a gallery of thumbnail-sized images of H&M items.

Once selected, each item?s enlarged image includes price information and the option to add it to a wish list on the application by click on a tab in the bottom-right corner of the screen.

The application?s store locator feature prompts users to enter in their location information and generates a list of nearby H&M locations.

Users can click on the listings to find business hours, address and a phone number with click to call functionality.

Additionally, consumers can click a tab at the bottom of the screen to generate Google Map directions outside the application.

The H&M application includes sharing functionality with Facebook and email integration.

Users can also unlock a hidden coupon by shaking the phone.

Here is a screen grab of the coupon:

Consumers can redeem the coupon by showing it at the register at any H&M location.

A navigation bar at the bottom of the screen lets users toggle between the homepage, the store locator, a news section that includes more photos, videos and news about H&M in-store promotions.

There is also a My H&M feature, where users can find items they have saved to their wish lists, offers they have received and application settings.

?What H&M has is now the minimum bar: store locations, product look-up, descriptions and reviews, and some way to link in social networks, whether Twitter or Facebook or something else.? said Neil Strother, Kirkland, WA-based mobile practice director at ABI Research. ?Basically, turn it into an interactive catalogue ? but more than just a catalogue.

?There should be an engagement utility that makes the shopping experience unique to your brand and carries through its main themes, while also being innovative and creative,? he said. ?Convenience, utility, entertainment and social interactions [are key].

?I think, going forward, its important that retailers have as many of those tricks in the bag as they can so they don?t lose touch with their audience.?

Mr. Strother is not affiliated with H&M, and agreed to comment as a third-party source.

Mobile App(arel)
Apparel and accessories retailers have been developing applications en masse.

For example, online retailer Gilt Groupe recently released a commerce-enabled Android application (see story).

Although this is H&M's first application, it is no stranger to mobile.

The retailer recently delivered 10.6 million branded impressions and drove foot traffic to its locations through a promotional campaign in the location-based MyTown mobile social game (see story).

?I don?t think an application is necessary, but to stay in touch with a mainly young audience, it?s a smart move to have a mobile application,? Mr. Strother said. ?It?s not yet required, but its becoming an expectation, and retailers want to go with the expectations of the audience.

?Down the road, an app or a great HTML5 site will be expected,? he said.

Unlike some other mobile retail applications, H&M?s is not commerce-enabled.

The retailer?s decision not to include the option of purchasing clothing directly from the application is not necessarily a strategic mistake, although it could represent a missed opportunity.

?It would be a mistake if they left money on the table and didn?t convert people on the phone,? Mr. Strother said. ?Obviously, you want to drive in-store traffic, but if someone wants to buy and aren?t in-store, you want to have a mechanism where they could purchase jeans or a jacket on the phone.

?It?s a missed opportunity if you don?t,? he said. ?Maybe H&M didn?t have the back-end ? that?s not a trivial matter.

?I would suspect if they like what they see, that?s maybe a feature they would add later.?

Final Take
Peter Finocchiaro, editorial assistant at Mobile Marketer, New York