Zara online store
Zara's website has come on in leaps and bounds over the past few months.
Back when the Zara online store launched, a couple of years ago, things were different. Shipping was slower than molasses in January. Stock levels were low, meaning items would arrive online, and be sold out almost instantly. The website ran slowly, and could be difficult to navigate, and returns could take a long time to process.
Lately, though, things have been better. Don't get me wrong: as a relative newcomer to the world of ecommerce, I get the impression that Zara are more or less feeling their way, and learning as they go, but I shop fairly frequently from the Zara online store, and I have noticed a stead improvement in recent months, which will hopefully continue as the site grows. Here are some of my impressions about the online shopping experience at Zara...
(IMPORTANT: This review relates purely to the Zara UK website. This brand has different websites for different countries, and their policies and service may be different from those discussed here.)
The Zara online store has its good and bad sides. The huge videos which play on the homepage are a little uncessary, as far as I'm concerned (Does anyone actually sit through those things?), but once you get past those, the site is fairly logically arranged, and you can view the clothing by collection (Choose between Zara Woman, TRF, Men and Kids), and then by item type. The images appear to be small at first, but you can click to enlarge, and there are a few different views available, so you're less likely to get an unwelcome surprise when your item arrives. The models are... kinda creepy, having raised the dead-eyed stare to an art form, but hey, you can't have everything. (I also regularly hear Zara's models criticised for being "too skinny" in some people's opinions. It's not for me to decide whether someone is the appropriate weight or not by looking at their photo on a website, though, so I'll leave that one up to you...)
The biggest issue I have with the Zara online store revolves around stock levels. I can't even count the number of times I've spotted something I like in the morning, only to find it sold out by afternoon - and this will happen long, long before the item in question is no longer available in Zara stores. As I mentioned in my opening paragraph, this is something that's definitely gotten better recently: my main tip if the item you're looking for does sell out, however, is to bookmark the page and keep checking back. When new items sell out, they are often re-stocked after a couple of weeks (Sometimes this will be indicated on the site with a "coming soon!" label, but not always), so don't lose hope!
The ordering processes
Again, this is hit and miss at Zara. Most orders I've placed have been straightforward, however, there have been a couple of times when the site has timed out mid-transaction, and on one occasion I placed my order only to log back into my account a few hours later to find absolutely no record of it *This is unusual for online stores, where you will usually be able to see some record of your order as soon as you've placed it). I didn't receive an order conformation or dispatch notice either, so I assumed something had gone wrong and re-ordered... only to receive two identical deliveries. The first order never did appear in my account (Although the money was taken from my card) so I've no idea what happened, and was a little nervous about ordering again after that. This happened a year ago now, though, and I've ordered from the Zara online store since then, without any repeat of this particular problem, so hopefully it was a one-off.
This is the main area in which Zara have made huge improvements with their online store. When the site first launched, delivery was very slow, and it would regularly take over a week for items to arrive. My last few deliveries have been much quicker, though, and delivered in a matter of days, so I've been pretty impressed. As an example, my last order was placed on Monday, January 28th, using the standard shipping option. I received a shipping confirmation on Wednesday, January 30th, and the order was delivered the next day, so four days in total from order to delivery. The order previous to that was even quicker, and I think arrived within a couple of days, much to my surprise. Orders are delivered by courier, so you do need someone to be available to sign for them: on the plus side, at least you don't have to worry about your item being lost in the post!
You can also choose to have your order delivered to your nearest Zara store, if that's easier for you.
Another win for the Zara online store here: your order comes boxed, and wrapped in tissue paper, which gives your package a bit of a luxury feel. If you've purchased shoes online, they'll come in a box, unlike in the store itself, where shoes are normally just handed over in a bag.
Zara returns are collected from your door by the same courier company who delivered the order: you simply log into your Zara account to arrange this. This is by far my Favourite arrangement for online returns: it's free, there's no queuing at the post office, and you place your return directly into the hands of the courier, so you don't have to worry about whether it'll get there or not. Again, however, my experiences with the return process are mixed: most of the time it runs pretty smoothly, but I did have one issue a couple of months ago when I had two packages to go back, and the courier refused to uplift them, saying that each package was supposed to go to a different destination, and he didn't know which was which. I certainly didn't know, so I phoned Zara, who weren't much help, and told me to call the courier company directly. I did that, and was passed around to three different people, none of whom seemed to know what was going on. Finally I was assured the courier would call back the next day... which he didn't. I ended up having to re-order the return and this time it went smoothly, thank goodness. To be fair, this issue was really with the courier company, rather than with Zara themselves, but it was frustrating, and led to a delay in me being refunded for the items I was returning. On the plus side, once the courier had collected the return, I was refunded within a couple of days, which is super-quick: most retailers take much longer to process returns, and, indeed, Zara themselves used to take a very long time with it - this is another area where there have been big improvements, recently.
Another point in Zara's favour here is the fact that they have a 30-day return period, so you have a long time to try the item on, make a decision, and return it. This is far better than the 14 days offered by many other online stores, and makes me more likely to order from them.
Despite the odd hiccup in my dealings with the Zara online store, I'm still happy to use it: as I've said above, I think many of the issues I've had were teething difficulties which can be put down to the brand being new to eCommerce, and I've noticed big improvements over the past year or so, which have left me very impressed.
Visit the Zara online store here.
Disclaimer: This review reflects my own personal opinion and experiences only. These may not be representative of the store as a whole, so if you've shopped from Zara online, I'd love to hear what you thought of it!