Online shopping: best and worst sites revealed

The Homebase website leaves a lot to be desired, according to new research.

Homebase has been named the nation’s worst online retailer for the second straight year by consumer site Which?.

The firm surveys thousands of its members each year about their experiences with online shops over the previous six months, covering factors like product quality, value for money and how easy the ordering process is.

And, for the second year in a row, Homebase has finished bottom, scoring a measly 57%.

The store was judged harshly for its value for money and its range of products, with members awarding it just two stars out of five in each category.

Notably, two of the bottom five firms are owned by controversial tycoon Mike Ashley, with House of Fraser and Sports Direct each managing scores of 60%.

One shopper described the House of Fraser website as 'awful', while others were left unhappy by its delivery costs.

Worst performing retailers

Rank

Retailer

Score

100

Homebase

57%

99

DIY.com

59%

97

Sports Direct

60%

=

House of Fraser

60%

96

WH Smiths

62%

95

Matalan

66%

93

GoOutdoors

67%

=

Zara

67%

91

Evans

69%

92

TheRange

68%

Who performed best?

Interestingly, the online retailers that scored most strongly were all specialist firms.

LizEarle, a beauty retailer, Richer Sounds and photography firm WexPhotoVideo all shared the top spot with a score of a whopping 93%.

WexPhotoVideo was praised for its extensive product range ‒ encompassing more than 20,000 bits of kit ‒ as well as the availability of knowledgeable staff on email and live chat. 

Richer Sounds was also praised for its quality staff, with shoppers reporting a “customer-focused attitude” to go with good value for money.

It’s worth pointing out that all three firms were among the very top performers in last year’s survey, highlighting that the quality experience they offer is not a flash in a pan ‒ they have been consistently excellent for some time.

And while the top 10 list is dominated by smaller specialists, there are some familiar names in there too, demonstrating that (lack of) size isn’t everything when it comes to a good experience shopping online.

John Lewis is tied for fourth spot, while cleaning giant Dyson takes a share of eighth.

Rank

Retailer

Score

1

Liz Earle

93%

=

Richer Sounds

93%

=

WexPhotoVideo

93%

4

AllBeauty

90%

=

Axminster

90%

=

John Lewis

90%

=

Rohan

90%

8

Abebooks

89%

=

ChainReactionCycles

89%

=

Dyson

89%

 

Personal preference matters

Which?’s survey is useful, but it shouldn’t necessarily determine where you shop.

For a start, Which? only surveyed their own members, who may have different tastes or characteristics than you.

Age and wealth, for example, could play a big role in determining whether you prefer John Lewis or JD Sports, or what you expect from an online shopping experience.

While the survey included some feedback on product quality, it can’t tell you what people thought of the exact product you’re planning to buy.

 

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