How do department store websites compare – and how to they compare with Amazon?

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UK High Street department stores are on the ropes: battered by competition from online players such as Amazon and ASOS and dogged by their own lack of forward momentum. But they have stores and they have online, together these things should surely make them unstoppable? They should be able to compete online at the very least.

So just how good, bad or ugly are UK department store websites – and how do they compare to the likes of Amazon and ASOS, which are hot on their tales and ready to eat their lunch?

Here are the results of ParcelHero’s test – including a look at Amazon and ASOS exclusive to Tamebay. You can read more about it here and we’d love to hear you opinions on these and any others that you think are good, bad or ugly.

Beales

https://www.beales.co.uk/

Range/ease of use:

+ Clean modern design, easy to use.

 Some drop down menu options (eg Technology Gifts under Gifts tab) come up with the message ’We can’t find products matching the selection’.

3/5

Delivery options:

 Free delivery only on orders over £75.

+£3.50 charge for orders under £75.

 Standard delivery within 7 days.

 No clear click & collect options when ordering clothing etc.

3/5

ParcelHero score: 6/10

 

Days

https://www.ewm.co.uk/store-finder/index/storeDetail/id/478/

Days doesn’t have its own website yet, instead some of its range is available through the Edinburgh Woollen Mill web site.

Range/ease of use:

+ Main EWM site is easy to navigate and intuitive

 Only products available from EWM shown: no Days range products such as lighting, Jaeger dresses etc.

1/5

Delivery options:

+Free delivery only on orders over £50.

+Standard delivery by Yodel 3-5 days.

+Express delivery within 48 hours £4.99 by Yodel.

+Free click & Collect

 £3.99 delivery charge for orders under £50.

4/5

ParcelHero score 5/10

 

Debenhams

https://www.debenhams.com/

Range/ease of use:

+ Easy to use. Attractive site for clothing etc purchases.

 Large electricals etc are on a ‘white label’ site branded Debenhams Plus but operated by Buy it Direct (Buy it direct formerly ran BHS’ white label electrical site).

 Debenhams plus site not integrated with the Debenhams account card:

3/5

Delivery options:

+Free delivery only on orders over £45.

+Standard delivery within 5 days.

+Next day delivery £3.99.

+£3.49 charge for orders under £45.

 Click and collect free only for orders over £20.

4/5

ParcelHero score: 7/10

 

Fenwick

https://www.fenwick.co.uk/

Range/ease of use:

+ Very attractive design with interesting blogs.

 Astonishingly, purchases are not possible through the site. It simply details products available in stores:

1/5

Delivery options:

 Different stores offer different delivery options within a local radius, not bookable on site:

1/5

ParcelHero score: 2/10

*Under its latest plans Fenwick intends to launch a full e-commerce site later this year.

 

Harvey Nichols

https://www.harveynichols.com/

Range/ease of use:

+User friendly clean design.

 A number of products such as some phone cases and coffee grinders are delivered direct from ‘brand partners’ and don’t qualify for integrated gift wrapping and full delivery options:

3/5

Delivery options:

 No free standard deliveries!

 Standard deliveries cost £6.

+Standard delivery within 3 days.

 Next day deliveries £10.

+ Click and collect free

+ Some free wrapping and message options

3/5

ParcelHero score: 6/10

 

House of Fraser

https://www.houseoffraser.co.uk/

Range/ease of use:

+ User-friendly modern design. 

 Ordering furniture such as dining tables and sofas switches to ‘white label’ A. Share & Sons site – best known for their ScS branded stores.

 Items placed in main site ‘bag’ do not appear in A. Share & Sons site ‘basket’.

3/5

Delivery options:

+Free delivery only on orders over £50.

+Standard delivery within 3-5days.

£3.95 charge for orders under £50.

+Next day delivery £6.

 Click and collect free only for orders over £30.

+ Same evening deliveries £8

4/5

ParcelHero score: 7/10

 

John Lewis

https://www.johnlewis.com/

Range/ease of use:

+Contemporary user-friendly design. 

+Integrated site enables ordering of all store products, including large items such as fridges, sofas etc.

+Approved suppliers’ orders (eg sofas) ordering and deliveries also integrated.

5/5

Delivery options:

+Free delivery only on orders over £50.

+ Standard delivery within 3-5days.

+ £3.50 charge for orders under £50.

 Next day £6.95.

+ Named day +2 and 4-hour slots available for extra charge.

 Click & collect also includes Waitrose stores but free only for orders over £30.

4/5

ParcelHero score: 9/10

 

Marks & Spencer

https://www.marksandspencer.com/

(excluding food/flowers)

Range/ease of use:

+Attractive user-friendly design. 

+ Integrated site enables seamless ordering of sofas etc.

+ We like the fact the site emphasises strong delivery options in its ‘why shop with us’ home page banner.

5/5

Delivery options:

+Free delivery on orders over £50.

+Standard delivery within 3-5 days.

+ £3.50 charge for orders under £50.

+Next day £3.99.

+ Click & collect free

5/5

ParcelHero score: 10/10

Amazon

https://www.amazon.co.uk/

Range/ease of use:

+ clean design, easy to navigate

+ Enormous range of items available

+Large items can be purchased together with small items at same time in same basket

– Marketplace traders’ items not well integrated. For example for free shipping offers etc.

4/5

Delivery options

+Free deliveries on items over £20 when Amazon is retailer

+Standard delivery within 5 days

+  From £2.99 standard delivery under £20

+ One-Day Delivery, Priority Delivery, Express Delivery or Same-Day (Evening Delivery) options in some areas

+ One day delivery £5.99

-£3.49 click and collect charge for items under £20

5/5

ParcelHero score: 9/10

Amazon just squeezed top marks here. The range of delivery options outweigh lack of free click and collect – especially as Amazon does not have many physical stores to click & collect from!

ASOS

https://www.asos.com

Range/ease of use

+ Modern design

+Easy to navigate

+ Larger items (not many as ASOS is not a direct department store rival) such as slush puppy machines integrated and part of free delivery over £25 standard.

5/5

Delivery options

+ Free deliveries over £25

* £3 delivery

+ £5.95 next day

+ Wide range of delivery options including Precise, Evening Next Day and ASOS Instant.

– Click & Collect £3 under £25.

5/5

ParcelHero score: 10/10

 

The verdict

M&S was the only store to score all the points available – and actually beat Amazon. It’s an easy to use site and its delivery options are well-priced.

Amazon’s lack of ability to entirely incorporate marketplace traders into its free delivery over £20 offer is too disappointing to ignore. We entirely understand the reasons for it, but if we mark down other stores for using white label suppliers with different delivery options and prices we must do it with Amazon.

In fact Amazon was lucky to get away with a 9/10.  We decided to allow its £2.99 standard CD and books postage charge as a standard delivery, its £4.49 usual charge for a shirt was over our £3.50 limit for standard deliveries.

In contrast ASOS waltzed through. Of course it doesn’t have issues with selling large items – unlike department stores. Even so we found a quite large slush puppy dispenser on the site and it was entirely integrated. We ignored its one off marketplace section as that relates to pre-owned/craft  items.

John Lewis offered a wider range of delivery choice functionality; but charging for in-store click & collect orders up to £30 negates the value of having brick and mortar stores, and so it fell a point short.

At the other end of the table, Fenwick can’t be too soon in introducing a website consumers can actually buy items on! Beales need to look at their click & collect offering and functionality a little more, and Harvey Nicks need to think again about being the only major department store not to offer free deliveries at all on most items!

So M&S and ASOS claim the honours, with Amazon and John Lewis taking second place.

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