I guess none of you reading this will get much time to shop in the
run-up to Christmas (roll on Posh Spice to switch on the Oxford Street
lights), so let’s nip up the virtual high street to see what shopping
online is all about. Talking of Posh, my first port of call is Liberty
The experience begins with tiny animations telling me I can Discover the
Company, Explore the London Store, or Go Shopping. But I don’t have much
luck following these instructions. To start with, this very purple site
appears to have been designed on an Apple Mac by someone who doesn’t
realise most people don’t use them, so I have to keep scrolling up, down
and sideways on my Compaq palmtop to find my way around.
I’m hoping to get some sense of the interesting and innovative designs
you can buy in Liberty, but the site doesn’t really stack up to that
expectation of the brand at all. What’s for sale is very limited, if not
a little odd, and while the ordering process is OK, overall the site is
tacky rather than sticky. Despite the ’exciting new six-minute video
Go to the real store.
Next up is Shops on the Net, (www.sotn.co.uk), where they promise ’to
make your shopping experience with SOTN the most stress-free and
relaxing shoppng experience you’ve ever had’. It is the season of
goodwill, so I’ll ignore the spelling mistake, but I can’t say the site
is successful in achieving anything close to making me feel relaxed.
Quite the opposite, in fact, with more than 3,000 shops to be confused
by. The site graphics are very reminiscent of the listings site, Scene
One. The best I can do is refer you to Portia P, the site’s own
shopaholic, who’s clearly an idiot. I quote: ’Not being a technically
minded girl, I headed straight for this thing called a ’portal’ which
lists all the best shopping sites on the ’net’ so you never have to
remember any of those funny addresses.
I got a divine Burberry dog carrier from www.pets-pajamas.co.uk which I
found through www.sotn.co.uk for only pounds 49.99 which will be perfect
for me to tuck Clarence the Chihuahua into when I go to the launch party
for ’Pets for Peace’ at the Metropolitan next week.’ No thanks dear.
The good news is available from www.shoppingunlimited.co.uk. I like The
Guardian and I like The Guardian’s digital brand too. Good clean
Quick to load. Reasonably good coverage that will, no doubt, grow over
time. The news and reviews about shopping online are trustworthy, unlike
dear Portia above. Well done to them for working out that it’s about
making things easier, not more difficult.
By now I’m hungry, so let’s see how going to the supermarket works out
at www.sainsburys.co.uk. No evidence of the increasing paranoia about
Wal-Mart’s plans here, but real evidence of major retailer paranoia
about online retail. Unless you live near Beckenham, Chase Lane,
Enfield, Fulham, Hayes, Kenton, Purley Way, St Clares or Watford Dome
Roundabout (I’ve spelled them out in case you do) this site isn’t much
use to you. You can leave an e-mail with your postcode, which I think I
did over a year ago and have yet to hear from them. The site has been
efficiently redesigned in a magazine style in Sainsbury’s new brand
livery, with a search facility for recipes too. (No query matches for
Dog’s Dinner, but 22 for Posh Spice.)
Last up is www.hotbox.co.uk. This site offers toys for boys, and if you
like that sort of thing, it’s quite good. Flat Eric makes an
Every bachelor pad accessory you could possibly want, from optics to
telescopes to weird stuff like the phenominator, the daetrix, and mini
boules for desktop frog-bashing.
There is an element of the tacky creeping into this site, but simplicity
of execution and unpretentiousness saves it. The site works quite well,
with some serious thought in the design. It’s a safe site for shopping,
giving that ring of confidence that many of the shop sites lack. Free UK
delivery. Thirty-day money back guarantee. And you can order by fax,
post or phone. Not that I’m on commission or anything, unlike Posh
Spice. Happy shopping!