Net-A-Porter wants to revolutionise the way women shop with their new social shopping app, The Net Set, and they’ve garnered press coverage by everyone from Fortune and Forbes to Style.com. This isn’t surprising – after all, it is the first of its kind (for luxury, at least). But is it really as great as everyone says it is? Let’s take a look…
Speaking at the DigitasLbi Connected Commerce event on the 4th of June, Sarah Watson, Vice President of Social Commerce at Net-A-Porter, said that with an audience of 4.1m across social media, and 40% of sales (and growing) via mobile devices, the company can see just how powerful social influence is in terms of driving sales. And we’ve got to give it to them – by creating a social network that sells, is there any better way to measure social ROI? It’s genius, really. Try it out – the app is Apple only (and invite-only – but it’s easy to request an invitation); but with 50k people already signed up, it’s set to be opened up to the masses shortly.
Upon download, you’re essentially forced to select your preferred ‘Style Tribe’ (a range of options including ‘Monochromatic’ and ‘Borrowed from the Boys’), and follow designers and members of the NAP-approved ‘Style Council’ (wonder how much they had to pay Erin Wasson…). This makes sense – you have to start somewhere – but the choices are actually very limited with only a handful of options. What if you don’t like the designers or fashionistas initially offered?
Once inside, you can search for designers as you would on the Net-A-Porter website, check out their profile (most of these are not active themselves) and shop the full range. Shopping is a bit complicated – for starters, you can’t filter the product range by category, so you literally have to scroll through every single item. Additionally, several clicks are needed to even get to a product page and then when you do, it’s cluttered with suggestions for style ideas and other users that like this product. You have to click to shop again, add to your bag, and then proceed to purchase, before finally getting to the checkout. The payment process is similar to any other shopping app.
When browsing users, you’re shown a scrolling stream of products they have ‘loved’ in-app, and style inspiration images they have personally uploaded. Much like Instagram, you can comment on these images. What’s really clever, though, is that the app uses image recognition technology to suggest similar products available for purchase. Great, right?! Except it doesn’t exactly work like that. For every photo we clicked on, the product suggestions were mostly unrelated. See the example below – I uploaded a picture of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley wearing a while Chloe SS15 dress (left), and the products suggested are nothing like it (right). While that specific dress isn’t currently available through Net-A-Porter, surely the app should assume I am looking for a short, white dress and suggest one of the 5 similar options (I checked) they do have.
This app is definitely a huge step in the right direction, but the functionality needs to be ironed out a bit! I’ll definitely be sticking to Net-A-Porter’s regular shoppable app for now.