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Background to the company.
Boots.com is the official website of the famous high street chemist store Boots. They are actually the largest chemist retailer in Europe now, and certainly are the most recognised high street chain within the UK. Everyone knows who Boots are! They have over 1,500 stores across the UK, but more and more are finding customers switching to their website to make orders. This review covers the website only (I'll maybe write another one about the high street/offline stores.)
You might be surprised to know that Boots has been running as a company since 1898, and it's first flagship store was opened in Nottingham in 1892. So it's a company that is over 100 years old! Pretty impressive, really! It started small, as a shop on Goose Gate in Nottingham, run by a gentleman called John Boot and his wife Mary, selling herbal remedies they made up themselves.
That was in 1849. John died quite young, at the age of 45, but the family - Mary and her son Jesse, kept the business going, and I imagine that today's shareholders of Boots the Chemist are really rather glad they did!
How long I've been using Boots.com
I have been using Boots.com for about 5 years. I first stared using them when I bought my new house, and found it was much easier to pop online and place an order, saving time for other things like stripping wallpaper and sanding floorboards! I also found their 3 for 2 and buy one get one free offers meant that I could buy in bulk the things I used a lot of, like shampoo and sanitary products, and just get them delivered instead of having to cart them through town and on a busy, cramped bus home!
When it came to my first Christmas in my new home, I used Boots for things like wrapping paper and little stocking fillers, and found it so much easier to buy from one place. I also liked to make use of the facility to buy a present, have it gift wrapped and sent to a different address - I did this quite a lot when friends who live in different parts of the country had babies or birthdays. Now that I tend to focus on making my own Christmas and birthday presents, I don't use it so much for this, but still get toiletries and suchlike from the site.
The Boots.com site is very colourful, and on the home page there are always huge banners (normally in bright, bold red) telling you what the current special offers are. At the moment, there are three banners, one green, one pink, one red, all showing different offers, and a large section in the middle of the home page showing ½ price electricals etc. To get to the site all you do is type in www.boots.com, and you will find yourself on the home page. I always sign in first, and if you haven't signed up already, you'll find this very easy to do simply by clicking the "register" tab at the top centre of the page.
Availability of Goods
Goods are usually available, though sometimes if you add things to your basket and then go back 2 days later to complete your order, you may find an item has gone out of stock in that time. This has only happened to me the once, but it can be annoying. Usually when you're browsing the site, if an item is currently out of stock, the site will not allow you to order, and will have a little tab beside the item stating that it's not in stock. It's all very clear, and easy to see, so you don't inadvertently order things that are out of stock, which I think is a commendable feature of the site. Some sites will take your money and THEN tell you the item is out of stock, meaning you've paid up but have to wait. An excellent feature in my opinion!
Navigation and Ease of Use
I have always found this site to be one of the easiest I use as far as navigation is concerned. Everything is in sections, and if you're in a rush you know exactly where to go to get the thing you need. There is also a shop search, which I have used a lot and which is very good, always bringing up the item I'm searching for.
As yet, this site does not have a favourites section, which I find very useful on sites like Tesco.com. As I buy the same products regularly, this would be a useful tool, and I'm sure Boots will eventually add this to the site.
One of the things I like most about the navigation, is that when you've popped into your shopping basket to amend something, you can click a button at the top of the screen which says "continue shopping" and this takes you back to where you were before! Also, when you are browsing the site, your shopping basket total is always displayed at the top right hand corner of the screen, so you always know how much you're spending as you go along.
Generally, the navigation is very smooth, the site runs very quickly, I never have to wait for pages to load up (though this obviously depends on the internet connection you have), and I can get items ordered and paid for in much less time than it would take me to get on a bus, go to town and wander aimlessly through the store! On the whole, I have to say this is a very easy site to use, and I have never had any problems with it.
One of the reasons that Boots is so popular is that there are always offers to be had and savings to be made on this site. Buy one get one Free offers are my favourite, as you can immediately calculate exactly how much you've saved! Three for two is good as well, and there are often deals where if you buy 2 or three products in the same range you get points added to your advantage card. For example, recently there was an offer where if you bought 2 botanics products you got 150 points, which is £1.50 in money terms. Not bad, especially if you were planning to buy them both anyway! I admit, it is a wonderful marketing tool, used by lots of different high street stores and supermarkets as a way of getting us to part with our cash, but used carefully and thoughtfully, this can actually save you a lot of money in the long run!
Placing an Order
When you have found the item you want to purchase it is very simple to order it. All you do is click the "add to basket" button which is normally right next to the product title, and it goes straight to your basket. If you want more than one of the items, all you do it change the number in the number box before clicking to add it to your basket! Very easy!
Updating your Basket
This is very easy - you just tick the thing you want to remove, or change the number of items, and then hit the update button. It's all very clear and easy to find, and I've never found it difficult to navigate.
Payment is easy, and quick, and the site you pay on is secure. It has a little padlock shown on it which is the symbol for a secure site, but if you're ever in doubt, just look up to the url, which should read https:// - the "s" shows it is secure. You can set your account to remember your card details if you want, which saves time in putting them in every time. I never remember to do this, but probably will next time I use the site.
Boots advantage card points
I have to admit that one of the main reasons I shop at Boots is the advantage card points. For everything you buy you will get awarded a number of points. Each point is equal to 1p. There is no other retail outlet I know of which offers four points per pound spent and in many cases gives double or triple points, with points back offers like 100 points for 2 or more purchases in a particular range. I really enjoy watching the points add up, and often use them to buy little treats for myself. I know I could go to Superdrug or somewhere like that and save a few pence here and a few pence there, but I would never really see those pennies mount up the way I do with boots. It's sad, I know, but I love my advantage card! If you haven't got one already I can highly recommend you get one, and watch those pennies add up to pounds!
By using an advantage card, the big brother of boots knows what you're spending your money on. Now some people would be a bit concerned about this, but the way I see it, it means that the company can tailor offers to suit you. And they do! Every month or so I get a boots advantage booklet sent to me, that is personalised to my spending, giving me extra points offers on products I buy regularly. So it can work in a good way too, helping you save money across the board!
There are a number of different delivery choices, each with different charges. Any item can be gift-wrapped - the boxes the items are put in are usually shiny coloured affairs, which are tied with a bow. However the items themselves are not wrapped inside and usually still have the labels (and prices) on, so if you're going to opt for the gift wrap service, just be sure to check the tags before you give the gift! To have an item or items gift wrapped costs just £2.95, and even if there are too many things to fit in one box and Boots have to send them in 2 or 3, they will still only charge you £2.95, which is pretty cheap! There is also the option to add a message to your gift box, and this is a free service.
At the moment Boots are offering free delivery on all orders over £20.00, though usually you have to spend £45.00 to quality for free standard delivery. Standard delivery normally costs £3.50, and your item usually arrives within 4 working days. Boots keep you up to date by sending you an email when the item has been despatched from the warehouse, and it normally arrives 1 or 2 days later. Other delivery options include Named Weekday, which costs £4.50, Next Day Delivery, which costs £5.50, and Named Saturday, which costs £7.50. I have always gone for the standard delivery, and usually spend enough to get this free.
Items are always sent in very secure packaging - not particularly environmentally friendly, but certainly secure. A big order is usually in a large brown box, well sealed, and with lots of air-filled bags inside to protect items. Smaller items are often wrapped separately for added protection. The order that arrived this morning was quite a small item, and came in a small brown cardboard box and was protected with what could be recycled brown paper, which I have to say I approved off greatly, as even if it's not recycled, I can still recycle IT!!
I have never received an item which was damaged at all, and have always found the packaging to be very secure. If the brown paper is a new packaging trend from Boots, than I wall be very pleased, as it's much kinder on the environment than air filled plastic bubble-wrap affairs!
Quality of goods
I have to say that the I have always found the quality of the goods I have bought from Boots.com to be excellent. You often wonder with internet companies, especially places like Tesco or the like, whether they use the internet site to palm off the funny shaped bananas or the almost out of date stuff that people shopping in store maybe wouldn't want. But not so with Boots. Everything has always arrived in perfect condition and I have never received anything that looked a little bit like a returned item, so I have to say that the quality of the goods is exceptional.
All goods come with a pre-paid returns label which means if you have to return anything you just take it to the post office and away it goes, free of charge. If it is something a bit more bulky, like a baby bath or suchlike, you can arrange for it to be picked up, which is very handy to know. I have never had to return anything as my orders have always been delivered perfectly, and there is always so much information on the website that I have never received something and thought afterwards, when seeing it "in the flesh" that it wasn't quite what I wanted.
After Sales Service
I have only once had to use the after sales service, but found it to be exceptional. There were no arguments about whose fault it was, even though it was blatantly apparent that Royal Mail had messed up, and the whole call was very calm and professional. Even the hold music was very peaceful and tranquil, and though I was only in the queue to be answered for about 4 minutes, it was quite a pleasant experience. So, what happened that I needed to call in the first place? Well, let me tell you.
Recently, my order for a Mooncup (menstrual cup for all you guys out there!), did not appear on my doorstep as planned. I received a card from Royal Mail stating it was too large for the letterbox and I could call an automated number for re-delivery. This I did, several times, and I spent a week trotting to and from the post office in the vain hope that it had arrived, to no avail.
One call to the boots.com helpline, with my order number and address details and I have received not only a very gentle and sincere apology, and a promise to either refund or re-send the item (I opted for re-send), but also a £5.00 credit to my boots advantage card. I left the call feeling thoroughly satisfied that my complaint had been handled swiftly and appropriately, and I had utter confidence that the item would this time arrive. It did, this morning, and when it arrived I felt half inclined to ringing them up to thank them, and to say how pleased I was with their service.
I really love the fact that this is a successful high street chain that grew from herbal remedy roots, and I think maybe this is why Boots have quite a lot of success with their Boots Botanics product range. Certainly, in an age where we are all trying to return to purer, more natural products both for beauty and for health, it is nice to remember where this company came from, and the original ideology of the people who build it up to be so successful. I can see that as the market place evolves, and more companies realise the consumers growing need for natural, non-synthetic products that have little or no harmful chemicals in them, Boots will in turn follow consumer demand and find itself as a company closer to its roots than ever before. It certainly has the money and power to do so, and I look forward to seeing the changes.
As for whether or not I recommend this company, yes, I can confirm I do. They stock such a wide range of products and seem to have their ears close to the wall listening to consumer demand (for example their introduction of the mooncup to their product range) that there seems to be no stopping them. The after sales service is second to none, and although their prices may be pennies more expensive than other similar high street chemists, the fact that their reward scheme pays more pence per pound spent than any other reward scheme I know of, means that it's always going to be the place I spend my hard earned cash.
Boots.com is definitely worth a look and for all you busy people out there it will probably come as a bit of a godsend!
Hey just shopping on Boots.com/co.uk now and your review has really helped. I love the lead up to Xmas when you can get a good bargain on teh 3 for 2 and I am starting to buy my prezzies earlier, also I may sign up for cashback as I can get money back off it! Great review, Fluffy x~x