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Iíve never in my life bought anything from a catalogue, in fact the only catalogue I own is from Argos. I just have to see what Iím buying for myself, so I would never usually have even thought of looking at the Next website. The problem is, that Iím going on holiday in a few days, and there are certain items that I saw in my local Next store, that I just couldnít go without. Of course they were out of my size in most of the things I wanted, so thatís how I ended up visiting Next.co.uk.
My first impressions of the website were very good; as you would expect it looked very professionally done, with a simple but attractive design, and I was also pleased that it had just the right balance between good graphics and pictures, without making it too slow to appear on your screen if you donít have the latest PC. On the front page you have links to the obvious sections: womens, mens, childrens and homeware, and after clicking for example on womens, you get more options for the type of item youíre looking for, making the site very easy to navigate. Since I already knew exactly what items I was looking for, I found that it only took me a couple of minutes to find them. However, if I had only had a vague idea of what I wanted, I think it still would have been fairly easy to browse through the relevant pages until I found something.
Looking through the Next directory online is very much like flicking through a catalogue, but slightly slower of course, and the number of pages in the section is listed across the bottom of the screen so you know how much you have to look at. The pages are well arranged with pictures of every item, which can be enlarged with more details of fabrics and the sizes available. There is very little text on the pages, only captions when you hold the mouse over an item, but I like it this way; it means more items on each page and therefore fewer pages to go through. The one negative thing that I would say is that it is hard to see exactly what some items would be like, but I donít think there is anyway they could solve this problem; itís just something I donít like about any catalogue shopping.
Even though Iíd never used the service before, and didnít own a copy of the Next directory, it was fairly simple to place an order online. They didnít go over the top with the details required; just what was absolutely necessary for delivery and payment. I was also able to start shopping, adding items to my ďbagĒ before registering. At registration I was given the option to receive a copy of the Next directory, but they made it very clear that there was a charge so I quickly unticked that box. You can also pay in two different ways: either by credit card, which was my chosen option, or by opening an account with them. I didnít read all the details of this, since if Iím going to get credit, Iíd prefer to get it from my credit card company, but it basically allows you to spread or delay payments for your shopping, of course adding interest if you donít pay on time. Having finished shopping, I was able to check whether the items I had ordered were in stock (they were) and choose a delivery time. Since I wanted my items in a hurry, this was the part of the Next service that I was most impressed with. Iíd already had a quick look through the Ďhelpí section to find out that Next offered a next day delivery service in their courier areas. Unfortunately they donít tell you where these areas are! I was placing my order at the weekend, and the first date for delivery available was Tuesday, I also had the choice of before or after 1pm. Not wanting to be forced to answer the door in my pyjamas at 9am, I selected Ďafter 1pmí. And that was that; they sent me a confirmation e-mail, and I looked forward to my nice new clothes.
So did they turn up on time? Actually a nice courier bloke by the name of John rang my doorbell and handed over my order on Monday morning (with a quick word to tell Next that heíd arrived at the agreed time if I got a phone call checking up on him). He gave me his phone number in case I wanted to return anything, but you also get given a postage label in case you want to send the items by royal mail, or you can return them to any Next store. They even say theyíll refund the postage charge (£2.90) if you return your entire order. Now I was over the moon to get my stuff a day early, but if Iím being picky, I think they should be a little better organised so that I would have had the option of a Monday delivery. Also I obviously donít know what he would have done if Iíd been out.
Overall I was extremely impressed with the both the Next.co.uk website and their service. I havenít been converted to catalogue shopping, but I would use it again if there was something I couldnít get in the shop.
I've never bought clothes from a catalogue, because I love the whole experience of shopping, but I agree with you that it's helpful if they run out in the stores. It's also great for people with kids or perhaps a disability who can't easily spend hours going around shops on a busy Saturday afternoon. Great op.
Mattroberts 24.05.2003 13:28
I don't feel that the next site gives the shop justce. Well, with the male range, anyhow! Matt x