August 4, 2011, 11:16 AM

Aeropostale tries an Android app on for size

The clothing retailer also has updated its m-commerce site with HTML5 technology.

Lead Photo

The app mirrors the clothing retailer's mobile-optimized web site.

Teen fashion retailer Aeropostale is showing it’s serious about making its online store as accessible as possible with a new mobile app strategy. The 1,000-store chain unveiled its Android app this week and will debut an iPhone app in the coming weeks. Further, it has upgraded its mobile commerce web site with HTML5 technology, the latest version of the web language that is considered particularly useful for mobile sites.

“Mobile apps have become very popular with today’s teenager,” says Scott Birnbaum, Aeropostale senior vice president of marketing and e-commerce, who notes that use of iPhone and Android devices is increasing among the company’s core customers. “By creating our Aero app we are able to continue giving our customer a seamless shopping experience.”

The app home screen features a large product ad taking up most of the screen, with site search, store locator and shopping cart buttons beneath.

Aeropostale’s other important m-commerce move was adding HTML5 technology to its m-commerce site. HTML5 can give a mobile site capabilities similar to a mobile app.

Because a mobile app resides on a device (“native” in developer parlance), it can make use of the features and functions of the device. For example, it can integrate with a smartphone’s GPS, address book and accelerometer (technology that enables features like shaking a phone to alter the orientation of a page). It can also cache data on a device, which speeds performance, and make greater use of a device’s built-in processing power. Mobile web sites built using HTML4 cannot do these things, but mobile web sites built using HTML5 can, thus making a site more like an app, which is widely acknowledged to provide the better mobile experience today.

M-commerce technology provider Usablenet Inc. worked with Aeropostale on the apps and the HTML5 upgrade.

In other e-commerce news, Aeropostale announced a store within Facebook where consumers can browse and purchase products. Birnbaum says the store is based on its e-commerce platform. Aeropostale has more than five million Facebook fans. “The next logical step is to give them the opportunity to shop while in this environment,” he says.

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