The best and worst of online shopping


Asos brand launch

Are Australian retailers really committed to online shopping?

With online shopping specialists continuing to grow and evolve their offer, many Australian retailers still seem to be struggling to accept the new reality. But there are some standouts.

What are the expectations for online shopping and who are the best and worst retail brands to shop with online?

Today’s expectations
Comparing notes around the office with some avid online shoppers, here are some of the essentials for online shopping (not including large or bulky goods).

• Fast delivery (1-4 days for Australian stores, 1-2 weeks for overseas)
• Free delivery (usually for orders over $50)
• Great customer service; respond to enquiries within hours not days, be transparent regarding stock and issues, and realistic about delivery times
• Contact options; live chat, email, social and phone
• Updates on order progress with online tracking
• Easy return system (some offering free or low cost returns)
• Choices for payments (credit cards, PayPal or vouchers)
• Opt-in EDMs to update on new products and sales
• Ability to save shopping cart to add items and purchase later
• Mobile friendly (phone and tablet)

With this in mind, here’s my pick of the good and bad of online shopping.

Interestingly, most of the best are the ‘online only’ retailers. However, there are a couple of standouts of the bricks and mortar stores, such as Officeworks and David Lawrence, that have clearly recognised the online opportunity for their business.

Many local retailers fall down by putting up barriers to purchase, in particular not making delivery fast, free (or reasonable). The other problem seems to be a lack of friendly and efficient customer service to keep customers updated, deal with issues and also enable hassle free returns. Overall, for most traditional retailers, it still feels like online is not the primary focus. Very few are really looking for ways to bring to life a true brand experience online.

Of the department stores, the emphasis seems to still be on click and collect rather than delivery but even that is not always guaranteed for the next day. Stores also don’t seem to carry the full product range online, again emphasising their reluctance to truly provide an online shopping service. David Jones provides free delivery when you spend $50 and free if you have a DJs credit card. Myer only provides free delivery on smaller items over $100. Target is the only discount retailer who offers free delivery on orders over $75. Big W and Kmart charge at least $5 or $10 respectively depending on the size of the item.

Below is my summary of some of the best and worst for online shopping.

The best

The Iconic online shopping
The Iconic (Australia)
• Free overnight shipping (over $50 spend)
• Free 100 day returns
• Optional 3 hour delivery (Sydney and Melbourne)

Asos (UK/Australia)
• Free shipping (over $30 spend), within 5 days
• $10 express shipping (free on orders over $125 spend)
• Easy returns ($6-8, depending on location)
• Marketplace where customers can sell and share fashion

Strawberrynet (Hong Kong)
• Free delivery for many products (fragrance $10 but free if ordered with other products)
• Delivery normally takes 1-2 weeks
• Innovative discounts by rewarding loyalty and quantity purchasing, with discounts of up to 10%

• Free next day delivery (over $55)
• Same day courier (order before 11.30am, $6-40)
• No fuss approach and efficient online tracking

Vino Mofo
• $9 shipping cap (pretty good for a case, two or more of wine)
• 365 day free returns
• Those black market specials!
• They not only keep you up to date, they are very entertaining!
(see more of why we like this brand here and here)

David Lawrence
• Free delivery on all orders (Australia & NZ)
• Free returns (Australia)
• Delivery 2-3 Business days (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane & Adelaide)

The Worst

While there are many brands that are really not up to standard, there was one standout Australian brand that has demonstrated to me that it is really not committed to online shopping.

Anaconda the worst of online shopping

• Standard delivery 5-14 working days (one of the longest for Australian retailers and slower than most delivery from the UK or USA)
• No free delivery, regardless of spend (at least $11 for clothes, more for other products, even for orders over $100)
• It took nearly 4 weeks to deliver a few tops and shorts
• No update from on why delivery was delayed
• When I enquired as to why it was taking so long I was told to call them because it was “too lengthy a process to explain via email”

Anaconda managed to disappoint on just about every expectation of what we thinks makes a good online retailer. The sad part is that they succeeded in getting me to try the brand for the first time through some reasonably clever marketing. Now, after my experience it will be most likely be my first and only time.

If you would like to join the conversation on the best and worst of online shopping experiences, just add your comments below. In particular, it would be great to hear about brands that are innovating the online shopping experience for the better.

Michael Hughes
Partner and Strategy Director


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