What Emerging Designers Can Learn from Free People’s Mobile App

free people mobile app

The recent release of Free People’s app got us thinking about fashion’s future in mobile. Whether it’s from a brand awareness, marketing, or sales perspective there is a great deal to be said for the potential mobile engagement holds for designers and brands, large and small.

The app is simply the next step within the company’s larger initiative to find new ways to push the envelope on brand awareness and customer engagement. Over the past year, Free People has created a name for itself as a marketing powerhouse, generating an incredible amount of ROI through its use of online campaigns, primarily via Instagram.

Building upon the success of its Instagram marketing, Free People’s mobile app transforms social interest and brand awareness into sales.

Customers, as with the Instagram campaigns, are encouraged to post photos of themselves wearing Free People clothing and heart their favorite images submitted by others.

In addition, the app allows customers to make purchases directly from product photos. Mobile shoppers can also locate products at stores within their area, explore product options and variations, as well as reviews.

Effectively, with it’s mobile app Free People has not only replicated the in-store shopping experience, but improved upon it.

As you might imagine, the cost of “going mobile” definitely creates a prohibitive barrier to entry for smaller brands looking to recreate a mobile app and shopping experience similar to the one Free People just launched.

This does not mean that smaller, emerging brands cannot benefit from some of fundamental marketing strategies that have lead to Free People’s mobile success.

The price tag associated with a team of user experience (UX) designers and engineers needed to create a mobile app can run out of the average brand’s price range.

Here are alternatives that Emerging Designers Can Use to Help Increase Brand Awareness and Drive Sales.

  • Instagram campaigns and photo contests: Techniques like Free People’s customer photo gallery directly implicate consumers and fans within the brand’s voice and keep customers engaged and returning to the site. Encourage your fans to share photos of themselves wearing your designs and display these in a gallery via your company’s Instagram account, blog, or website. Once a month select a winning photograph that best captures the essence of your brand, or ask fans to weigh in on their favorites.

  • Mobile newsletters and email marketing campaigns: Whether it’s sharing the launch of this season’s line or promoting an upcoming trade show, these are an opportune way for designers to stay in touch with the contacts they make within the industry. Considering that 43% of email is now opened on a mobile device, a weekly or biweekly email will go a long way to getting your logo and your designs in front of your existing clients eyes and shared, bolstering brand awareness.

  • Twitter sweepstakes: 60% of Twitter users access the social network from their mobile device, making Twitter sweepstakes a great tool for brands when it comes to raising awareness. Incorporate hashtag-based question-and-answers, trivia, event announcements and promotions, as well as photo contests to drive conversation around a product or campaign, while gaining followers.

There’s no denying the potential of a mobile app. In its first week alone, Free People’s was downloaded 24,000 times, accumulated 100,000 user sessions, and accounted for somewhere between 7% and 10% of Free People’s online sales. Having achieved these impressive figures for its own usage, according to Paulson, the app also managed to boost sales on the company’s website by 100%.

We will say in closing, it will be interesting to see what becomes of mobile shopping once the cost barrier to the technology is removed. Though fancy and techie mobile apps are reserved for bigger brands with even bigger budgets, as emerging designers, you have the ability to experiment and get really creative with the free or low cost options that exist.

Christina Goswiller

A recent graduate of Stanford University where she majored in political science, Christina quickly fell in love with the creativity and innovation of the San Francisco start up culture and is particularly fascinated by the growing presence and importance of technology within the fashion industry.