Monday, 31 March 2008

Online shop review: WHSmith

Stationery is a much in-demand commodity here in the Outer Hebrides, as many people such as teleworkers, fishermen, crofters and other small businesses are self-employed. Last monday, the online shop of WHSmith was having a sale with 20% off stationary, so we took the opportunity to do our first e-shop with them. A large box turned up today, delivered by AJG:


Feeling surprisingly light, it was opened to reveal a heck of a lot of packaging:


After removal, the goodies became apparent. All packaged up, with bundles in either further packaging, or cardboard boxes:


After some time removing all the items, this is the haul for this shop:


Out of the seven items we ordered, one item was slightly different from what we were expecting, as the description on the online shop was a bit vague. Apart from that, everything was fine.

Some of the items had "half price" stickers on them, as well as badged shop prices. For example, the 6 packs of C5 envelopes (10 envelopes in each) were shop-badged at 99p per pack, but in the online shopping order all 6 cost only £3.59. So, buying the envelopes online in bulk was 40% cheaper (including the 20% sale reduction) than buying them in a branch of WHSmiths, which is a surprisingly large saving.

Delivery was free for orders over £25 - other online shops take note. Online tracking was useless; the order was despatched quickly, but there was no updates after that, so we couldn't follow its progress around the country. We didn't, on this occasion, do a massive order as it was the first one on this online shop.

Overall - superb value for money. And they've got another offer on the online shop, of £5 off if you spend £25 or more before the end of this week.


  • Value for money of order: 9.5

  • Web site and ordering process: 7.5 

  • Delivery and tracking: 7

  • Packaging: 8

  • Problem handling: no problems

  • Overall score: 81%

  • Would I use it again?: Yes


  • Free delivery to everywhere, including Scottish islands for orders over £25.

  • Really easy website to use; fast and quick to move around, and you don't need to squint to read anything.

  • Substantial reductions on shop prices.


  • Delivery took a week. Not disastrous, but not fantastic. 

  • Order tracking non-existant; where's my box?

  • A little more detail on some items in the online store would be good.

  • Some items can only be bought in bulk, not individually.

  • Mountain of packaging, though it'll burn well on the fire tonight.

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