Researchers from the University of Manchester have published new research into fashion apps and their popularity.

They were inspired by last year’s IMRG study, which found that visits to e-commerce sites via smartphone and tablets accounted for 45% of all e-commerce traffic in the UK. With retailers which hadn’t gone mobile losing out on £6.6bn a year.

Dr Christopher J. Parker and Huchen Wang wanted to find out why people use certain apps and to discover how companies could design “better, more enjoyable and useful” ones.

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“This study reveals the practical focus of fashion retail apps, within an industry often focused on physical interactions, and provide a focus for fashion retail app designers to tailor their products,” explained Dr Christopher J. Parker.

“Future apps should be designed specifically with this in mind to increase the chance of consumer engagement.”

The pair discovered that apps focused on shopping efficiency and convenience are valued most highly by users. With the majority of online shopping done at 8pm, they believe that’s the time companies should target their marketing.

The research also revealed that personalisation and integration with social media leads to better performing apps, with customers wanting to use them more often to make purchases.

However, few retailers are really capitalising on this. They point to Next, ASOS and Zara, which allow individual items to be shared on social networks and via instant messenger clients, but they’re not currently presented “in a way that enhances person-to-person discussions and creates what they call ‘social excitement’.”