By Rachel Moss
Online shopping is meant to take the hassle out of trawling around the shops, especially as the pre-Christmas crowds descend. But not all online stores are created equal.
Homebase.co.uk has been rated the worst online retailer in the UK for 2018, according to the latest Which? annual online shop survey, scoring just 55 per cent on customer satisfaction.
The consumer watchdog asked more than 10,000 people to rate the most popular online shops based on their experiences in the past six months. Shoppers panned Homebase for having a “poor product range”, “bog-standard product quality” and being “poor value for money”. Ouch.
At the other end of the scale, LizEarle.com was rated the best online retailer with a score of 94 per cent. The skincare retailer was praised for its natural “high-quality products”, “excellent service” and “good money off offers”. Many shoppers also mentioned they were likely to get free gifts in their orders.
Those surveyed were also asked to rate websites for their experiences buying particular items and consider a variety of factors including price, product range, deliveries, product quality and the returns process.
The most highly rated shops in the survey were smaller, specialised retailers such as LizEarle.com (94 per cent), RicherSounds.com (93 per cent), Rohan.co.uk (93 per cent), SeasaltCornwall.co.uk (93 per cent) and WexPhotoVideo.com (93 per cent).
Joining Homebase.co.uk at bottom of the pile were well-known brands such as SportsDirect.com (61 per cent) DorothyPerkins.com (61 per cent), DIY.com (B&Q’s online site, 62 per cent), WHSmith.co.uk (63 per cent) and JDSports.co.uk (63 per cent).
SportsDirect.com, with a 61 per cent overall customer score, received mixed customer feedback. One shopper said the product they bought from the sports retailer was “very poor quality”. But its cheap prices win many other customers over. “It has a fair range at good value,” commended one.
Shoppers who had recently used the Dorothy Perkins website found the delivery process to be too slow, the firm’s complaints handling to not be up to standard and products to be poor quality. The women’s clothing chain received a 61 per cent customer score. One customer said the clothes shop was “nothing special”, but one loyal shopper affectionately said she would “keep going back to Dotty P because the range is great”.
B&Q’s website DIY.com only fared slightly better than its rival Homebase.co.uk, with a 62 per cent customer score, as the site was deemed hard to use. “It’s one of the slowest sites I’ve ever encountered” bemoaned one customer. “It’s a poor website that is not user-friendly”, said another.
When Which? asked people what makes them shop online, two-thirds (68 per cent) of respondents said they liked online shopping because they can do it at a time that is convenient for them. Around three in five (63 per cent) people said it was easier to find exactly what they wanted online and three in five (57%) also said they had more choice of products. More than half (56 per cent) of customers said it was easier to compare prices across different stores.
According to the survey, the top online retailers are:
1 LizEarle.com 94%
2 RicherSounds.com 93%
= Rohan.co.uk 93%
= SeasaltCornwall.co.uk 93%
= WexPhotoVideo.com 93%
6 JohnLewis.com (90%
7 Dyson.co.uk 89%
= Lakeland.co.uk 89%
= Wordery.com 89%
10 AllBeauty.com 88%
= CTShirts.com (Charles Tyrwhitt) 88%
= Electrical.coop.co.uk 88%
= TheBookPeople.co.uk 88%
= Toolstation.com 88%
= Wiggle.co.uk 88%
The bottom online retailers are:
110 CreateAndCraft.com 67%
= LaRedoute.co.uk 67%
= Made.com 67%
113 JDSports.co.uk 63%
= WHSmith.co.uk 63%
115 DIY.com (B&Q) 62%
116 DorothyPerkins.com 61%
= SportsDirect.com 61%
118 Homebase.co.uk 55%