Homebase and B&Q fail to deliver in latest Which? survey

Homebase.co.uk has been rated the worst online retailer in the UK for 2019, according to the latest Which? annual online shops survey.

Shoppers complained about the retailer ignoring complaints and selling products that were actually out of stock.

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.

The most highly rated shops in the Which? survey 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.

Finding itself at the bottom of the Which? survey, DIY retailer Homebase.co.uk achieved a customer score of 57 per cent. Shoppers gave the retailer just two stars for range of products and two stars for value for money.

The online stores of two Mike Ashley-owned brands – HouseofFraser.co.uk (60%) and SportsDirect.com (60%) – languish alongside Homebase.co.uk, DIY.com (B&Q) (59%), and WHSmith.co.uk (62%) in the bottom five.

HouseofFraser.co.uk, with a 60 per cent overall customer score, 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.”

B&Q’s website (DIY.com) scored 59 per cent, with shoppers complaining about the difficult-to-use website.

At the top of the Which? table, 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 told us they love its ‘customer-focused attitude’ and ‘excellent value’. Like Wex, Richer Sounds has staff with expert knowledge of the products they’re selling, setting both ahead of the rest.

Harry Rose, Editor of Which? Magazine, 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.”

Five top tips from Which? for shopping online

  • Use a price-matching scheme – Many retailers will price-match most of their competitors, although high-street brands won’t always price-match online-only retailers. It’s always worth checking to make sure you get the best possible price.

  • Sign up to newsletters – Joining mailing lists and following retailers on social media will mean that you’re first to know when offers and sales start, and many retailers offer a discount on your first purchase post-signup.

  • Be ‘indecisive’ – Once you’ve loaded your virtual basket, click ‘checkout’, log in or enter your details and then leave the website. Some retailers will email you an offer code to try and tempt you back to complete your purchase.

  • Do your research – Unknown brands may be cheap but this could be a reflection of quality. Check the latest product reviews on which.co.uk.

  • Check returns policies – Some retailers offer shorter returns policies for sales items, but under consumer law you will have at least 14 days to return most online purchases.


Top online retailers:

Bottom online retailers:

Notes to editors:

  • In July 2019, Which? asked 7,604 Which? members about their shopping experiences online.

  • Which? generated two sets of results including an overall table based on online shoppers’ general experiences over the past six months; and category tables, where shoppers rated websites based on their most recent experience of buying certain types of products.

  • 30 responses are needed for a retailer to make the tables (samples sizes in brackets).

  • Overall customer score is made up of satisfaction and likelihood to recommend the retailer.

  • The full list of results can be found at which.co.uk/onlineshops

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