Homebase named ‘worst website’ for third year

For the third year in a row, Homebase came bottom in the Which? list of 100 online retailers, with shoppers bemoaning its poor customer service and stock availability.

The consumer champion’s survey of over 7,604 customers found that at the other end of the scale, beauty retailer Liz Earle and tech businesses Richer Sounds and WexPhotoVideo were voted joint-best online retailers.

During June and July, Which? asked respondents to rate their online shopping experiences over the previous six months. The three highest-rated retailers scored 93 per cent, while worst-rated Homebase.co.uk only managed only 57 per cent.

The struggling DIY retailer was bought out last year for just £1 and stores have been closing since then. The downward trend appears to have affected the store’s online offering, too, with one shopper telling Which? that their complaints had been entirely ignored, while another said they ordered products online only to be called later and told they were out of stock.

A statement from the firm explained: "Following the sale of Homebase in June 2018, we knew there was work to do to improve the shopping experience for our customers.

"Since then, and as part of our turnaround plans for the business, we have been working hard to bring back the Homebase our customers know and love - 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."

Fellow DIY chain B&Q came 99th in the table, scoring 59 per cent, with customers also stating that the website lacked range and that they could find better prices elsewhere.

Another low-ranking online retailer was WH Smith with 62 per cent, which also came last in Which?’s most recent High Street shops survey.

House of Fraser’s website only scored 60 per cent, down from a respectable 77 per cent last year, strangely enough now sharing 97th spot with Sports Direct, which acquired the beleaguered department store last year.

House of Fraser’s online customers complained of a lack of choice and high delivery costs. “Even when I spend over £50 I have to pay £5 for delivery,” said one shopper.

Meanwhile, scoring highly were AllBeauty.com, Axminster.co.uk, JohnLewis.com and Rohan.co.uk, which each scored 90 per cent.

John Lewis was rated the best online retailer in four categories – clothing and accessories, furnishing and homeware, entertainment, and outdoor and sporting equipment. Despite significant staff cuts and its first-ever half-year loss in the six months to July, survey respondents were overwhelmingly positive about the department store’s website. For many it was being able to have online orders delivered to Waitrose, as well as John Lewis branches, that really set it apart.

The clothing, accessories and shoes category turned up more recommended retailers than any other, with CTShirts.com (87 per cent), SeaSaltCornwall.co.uk (87 per cent) and WhiteStuff.com (83 per cent) coming out ahead of Matalan.co.uk (66 per cent) and Zara.com (67 per cent).

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