Back to the drawing board: Homebase site rock bottom

HomebaseHomebase has been rated the worst online retailer in the UK for 2019, with WHSmith and Mike Ashley-owned House of Fraser and Sports Direct also proving a miss with consumers, according to the latest Which? annual shopper survey.

Which? asked more than 7,500 members to rate the most popular online shops based on experiences they have had in the past six months.

Those surveyed were also asked to rate websites for their experiences buying particular items and consider a variety of factors including value for money, product range, ease of ordering, deliveries and product quality.

DIY retailer Homebase achieved a customer score of 57%, receiving just two stars out of five for range of products and two stars for value for money. Back in March, the retailer revealed it was aiming to tap into the power of data to reverse its fortunes after appointing Havas Media to handle its media planning and buying business. However, so far at least, this appears to have made little difference to its online performance.

A Homebase spokeswoman said: “Following the sale of Homebase in June 2018, we knew there was work to do to improve the shopping experience for our customers. A big part of this has been improving our website, and we’ve already made hundreds of changes, such as introducing a new ‘search and filter’ function and adding over 16,000 products online.”

WHSmith.co.uk (62%), HouseofFraser.co.uk (60%), SportsDirect.com (60%) and DIY.com (B&Q) (59%) make up the bottom five.

HouseofFraser.co.uk received mixed customer feedback. One shopper explained that the “website is awful”, while others complained about delivery costs. One disgruntled WHSmith.co.uk customer said: “I ordered something only to be told three months later that it was out of stock.”

The most highly rated shops were all specialist retailers, with LizEarle.com (93%), RicherSounds.com (93%) and WexPhotoVideo.com (93%) all tying in first place. Customers told Which? that these shops offered top service, great value for money and an extensive range of items.

WexPhotoVideo.com customers praised the camera specialist for its range of more than 20,000 pieces of kit, from lenses and tripods to drones. Wex customers liked the availability of knowledgeable staff via email and live chat.

Shoppers at RicherSounds.com said they love its customer-focused attitude and excellent value. Like Wex, Richer Sounds has staff with expert knowledge of the products they are selling, setting both ahead of the rest.

Which? Magazine editor Harry Rose said: “We continue to see the same brands performing poorly in our survey, with some of the bigger retailers offering disappointing levels of service and inferior websites which often seem to run out of stock.

“Our research shows that if you value a genuinely enjoyable shopping experience, then you might be better off with a smaller brand that can offer a more personalised service.”

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