Sunday, 15 July 2018

The Best and Worst of Online Shopping



It's no secret that shopping in-store is becoming less popular as the years go by. Everything we do in this day and age has been easier with advanced technology. Cashless buses are something I never could have imagined when I was in secondary school. Now, the thought of counting out £1.50 at the front of the bus seems alien. The same goes for things like Apple and Android Pay! People don't want to have to do an awful lot to receive things any more. We want things in the click of a button and that's why online shopping has become so popular. 


High street stores like M&S, Mothercare and plenty of others are going out of business. I even heard that New Look are having to close a few of its stores down and they're probably not the only popular fashion retailer facing this crisis. I put a poll up on my Instagram story (as you can probably tell by now, I do love a poll) asking whether you all prefer to shop online or in-store. Only 4 people said that they prefer to shop in store! This is hardly unbelievable, but it does show how popular online shopping has become. It's quick, it's easy, you're not restricted by store opening and closing times and you can get something that hasn't been touched and tried on by a hundred plus different people. 

I do a lot of online shopping. Having said that, I also do a lot of online returns. Most of the clothes I buy in store, I don't return. A lot of the clothes I buy online, I do. In today's post, I wanted to talk about the best and worst stores for online shopping; giving you the reasons, due to personal experience, why I would or wouldn't choose to shop online with a brand repeatedly. 

ASOS



We have to start with the queen of online shopping. ASOS is probably the number one destination if you want to quickly pick something up online. They stock pretty much every brand you can think of. If you have a look on the New Look website for example and something is out of stock there, then you can just try and find it on ASOS. Nevertheless, if they don't have it, then you can always find something similar because ASOS have so much to choose from.

They offer next day delivery for a year for only £10 and they hold items in your basket for you for an hour while you shop, which is amazing. I've been shopping on other websites, taking my time as I scroll through page after page, only to come back and find that the item I wanted is now out of stock. This happened to me once after I'd placed my order! I'll reveal which brand that was a little bit later.

ASOS also have a really great and easy to use app for you to shop on. They give you points the more you shop with them, which means that you can get lots of rewards like a £5 voucher towards your next shop (which I currently have!). 

However, one thing I have to say about ASOS is that the quality of their own brand clothing is just so incredibly poor. I've ordered dresses, tops, jeans, trousers, the lot. Their clothes are thin, cheaply made and they don't fit well at all. I don't know how best to explain it without showing you the items I've ordered on, but obviously I've returned them now. Have you ever ordered anything from ASOS own brand? What did you think if you did?


New Look




New Look is not a website I really enjoy shopping on. I don't like the star ratings below each item, the colours, the love heart, the little new arrival sign, the quick view and then the price below everything. I think there is too much going at once. If you want more information, that's what the link to the specific product page should be for! They also don't hold items for you which I find really annoying. So many times I've added things to my basket and when I've finally gone to checkout, the items have already sold. It's such a shame. 

For a long time, New Look didn't offer next day delivery. They now have a next day delivery pass, but it's £19.99 which I think is ridiculous. If you don't have the pass, next day delivery is £5.99 which again, I think is just crazy! As you can see in the picture above, I can get a top for that price!

I've also ordered things from New Look that just do not look the same online as they do in store. This has happened a couple of times. With this brand, I really would just rather go in store and try before I buy. They have such a huge range of clothes and I love their shoe selection as well. Just online could do with some improvements. 


Pretty Little Thing



Pretty Little Thing is probably my favourite site to shop on, after ASOS. They always have really great discount or delivery codes for you to use. Like £1 next day delivery or 30% of sale codes. I've never had any problems with my items being delivered, they offer free returns which is fabulous and I really love the clothes on site. They also have premier next day delivery called PLT Royalty and it's priced at £9.99 for the year. I feel like they really make it super easy for you to navigate their website. They have so many different sub-categories and then an array of filters on the sidebar too.

A few things are a bit hit and miss, but you can usually tell which ones are going to be good based on the price. They will often have the same top priced at like 3 different prices. You know that the cheapest one is probably going to be a little bit see through, the mid-priced one isn't going to be see through but will probably be something like a stretchy jersey material and then the higher priced one is going to be a lot thicker and probably a very flattering slinky material instead. If you want something for a night out or something easy to throw on in the summer months, then Pretty Little Thing is a really great shopping destination for a quick wardrobe fix. 


Boohoo



Boohoo is a website I literally hate shopping on. Although everything I've ever ordered from there I have actually genuinely liked. They just have too much stock! Like there is just so much of everything I don't know where to start, where to finish, where to stop off. It's crazy. A really big factor in this is the way that almost every item has a name.  As you can see above, there's the 'Florence' Satin Cowl Neck Bodycon Dress and the 'Layla' Jacquard Button Detail Blazer Dress. But then, you'll see the Florence and Layla dresses somewhere else, only they have a different name! And often they're the same price, so what is the actual difference?

I've shown an example below. The satin dress on the end is essentially the exact same as the Florence satin dress for £20, it's just on a different model and modelled at a different angle. They were also once exactly the same price. I can't see what the difference between them is, yet one has gone down to £12 and the other is still full price???


Once again however, Boohoo do offer free returns and great delivery and discount codes. I don't think I have ever ordered anything off their site without using some kind of code. There is always a way to get money off which is music to my ears really. You do just have to be careful when shopping here. I ordered something once only to get an email afterwards telling me that the item had gone out of stock. This was obviously annoying as they could have just told me that before I ordered it. I then had to wait the usual time for a refund, which was all for nothing really. 


River Island



I placed an order with River Island fairly recently and I was so pleased with everything I received. It came really quickly, next day actually because I spent £140. But most importantly, everything was exactly as it had been pictured online. I really cannot fault the experience at all. Everything is very neatly labelled, there are filters on the side to help you find exactly what you're looking for and the pictures are very clear. The quality of the clothes guys, is amazing. River Island is that high street store that, yes, is slightly more expensive than you might be looking for, but they really do deliver on quality. The price is definitely justified. 

Again, returns are free and so is click and collect. Standard delivery is £3.99 or free if over £65 and next day is £5.99 or free over £100. 


Mango



I usually shop with Mango if I'm looking for work clothes or something a little bit smarter than usual. Thankfully, I've had no problems shopping with them. As you can see they offer free delivery over £30 and their website is very clean and fresh, making it easy to navigate. 

You can also ask to be notified of items when they come back into stock if something you want isn't there at the time. I think this is a really nice added touch! As far as I'm aware, they do not offer next day delivery but you can get free click and collect to your nearest store. 


Debenhams



I recently made an order with Debenhams. I ordered about 7 different items. We all know that Debenhams stocks several different brands, just like ASOS. However, everything came in separate packages, with separate delivery and returns notes. Why? Why did this need to happen? They all came on different days too which I found really annoying! It's one thing to stock different brands but to then dispatch and package them all separately when I placed one order is just a bit ridiculous. If ASOS can do it, then you can do it too Debenhams. 

Their returns are free but considering that everything came separately, I knew that they would have to be processed separately too. Meaning I could wait any number of days to return my items. Unfortunately, I didn't even like anything I ordered so I took everything to the store to return it where it could all be refunded at once. 

I probably wouldn't order from Debenhams again. Based on the experience, it would definitely just be easier to go in store. That way, I could have tried before I bought, browsed all of the different brands and avoided all of the stress.

Although I did end up on the Debenhams website as a last resort, they do have a lot of choice on their website. I'd say mainly for shoes and make-up, they have a really great selection to choose from. The clothing brands are more for middle aged women if we're being honest; as apart from Miss Selfridge and Quiz, there isn't really much to choose from. But if you're looking for a wide range of accessories or make-up, then it's actually a really good place to look.  


Forever 21



I used to absolutely love shopping with Forever 21, but as a brand, they're just not as accessible as they should be. There is one store, all the way in Oxford Street, which I never go to for shopping. Then, if I want to order online, delivery is £3.95 and their returns are not free! There's also no option for next day delivery, which is just silly considering that everywhere does it.

It's a real shame because they have some really lovely pieces. Often I find that stuff is sold out in most sizes or even that, similar to Boohoo, there is just too much to choose from. There are handy filters on the side, but actually, they're not detailed enough. Sometimes, I just want to look at something like blouses. If I type in 'blouse' it doesn't come up with what I want and there is no sub-category at the side either. I just have to go through all of the tops to find what I'm looking for instead. I could spend hours on this site and still not even be halfway through. This is both a pro and a con of the website. 

If they offered next day delivery and free returns, I would be more inclined to order from here. I'd know that I could grab a few pieces, try them on at home and send them back if I wasn't happy. But now, I have to think about what I would do if I didn't like them. Pay for them to be returned or go all the way to Oxford Street to return them and that just really puts me off. 


H&M




H&M have a super easy website to use. There are neat categories at the side for you to navigate easily and if you notice the labels on individual items, you'll see that they're just kept really simple. Striped jumpsuit, jumpsuit with a tie belt and playsuit. We don't need them to be labelled, wide leg, navy, V-neck, tie-waist jumpsuit, do we?

I ordered something from H&M last night and within five minutes of being on the site, I had checked out. That's the kind of shopping experience I want when I'm online. Efficient and easy. Online shopping is supposed to take the hassle away of going in to store and to give you more choice of items and this is exactly what this website does. 


Zara



Being on the Zara website is like flicking through a high-fashion magazine, don't you think? I always see pieces that I love but I never end up ordering them. I think that has something to do with the way that the models wear the clothes. Their poses are always so awkward and odd. They never model the clothes the way that I would wear them and I think I find it really off-putting overall.

That yellow bag pictured above would look really nice with a pair of ripped denim jeans and a ruffle top for example. But it just doesn't work as a cross body. The strap is clearly too short, which is why it's just sitting awkwardly like some kind of child's bag at her waist and it definitely does not work with that dress! Yuck!



These sorts of poses for a high street brand just feel so wrong to me. When I see the models, I just can't make any sense of what they're doing. Then I feel like I'm not getting a true sense of the item, so I don't know whether to order it or not and eventually, I just close the tab and end up going in store. Does anyone else feel the same with Zara?


It's really important that brands get their online shopping services right, as this is where most of the money is. When a brand goes wrong, they lose a repeat customer and it's repeat customers that are going to buy into services like premier delivery and spending over £65 for example to be able to reap the benefits that they offer.

To give you an example of a bad experience, I did make an order with Gap recently and asked for it to be sent to store. I got my dispatch email and was told that I would receive another email once it had arrived. The expected date was 12th July. Yesterday, I still hadn't received a confirmation email to tell me that it had arrived in store, so I took matters into my own hands and chatted online with an agent to see what was going on. The agent told me that my delivery had been lost in transit and that she would email me to confirm my refund and give me a discount code to use online. I was obviously kind of annoyed as Gap didn't even bother to tell me that my parcel had been lost. In any case, I accepted the refund and discount code and moved on.

Today, I woke up to receive an email telling me that my order had arrived in store! I thought my order had been lost! Gap, what are you guys playing at?? This kind of disorganisation really puts me off ordering from a brand again. If there isn't a smooth process from store to door then I would much rather just go in and purchase the items physically for myself. I can't trust them to handle my shopping so I have to go and do it myself. It's as simple as that.

What sorts of things put you off ordering online? And are there any brands you would just rather shop with in-store?

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