Each month we will be bringing you a review of an online shopping experience we’ve had personally with a NZ/Australian online women’s clothing retailer. We’ll share with you how their site performed, how easy it was to browse and find what we were looking for, and the interaction between the company and us, the shopper. Plus we’ll share how the sizing is and how the store handles returns.
This month we are reviewing: Ballentynes Fashion Central (http://www.bfc.co.nz)
I kind of stumbled over this site and decided to use this purchase as my first review for online shopping for FindingFashion. (And it’s not to be confused with Ballantynes.co.nz)
Ballentynes Fashion Central was established in 1972 by Graham and Eunice Ballentyne. Still involved in the day to day running, these days there is a second generation of Ballentynes coming through, keen to carry on the tradition of providing great looks at value for money prices. They have a scattering of stores throughout small town NZ.
I have to say I’m incredibly impressed with the online ordering at Ballentynes. The website was easy to use, easy to search and they had a lot of great items to browse. Payment process was easy and the order arrived quickly.
I found Ballentynes through a google search quite by accident and remembered the company from a store visit when I was visiting Marton of all places a few years ago. I remember the shopkeeper being really friendly and ended up purchasing some jewellery at the time.
Obviously, I went straight to the SALE category on the website for this experiment. I was surprised to see some really nice items for great prices – I used to think of this more as a ‘mature’ women’s shop – but actually it’s got some nice jackets, tunics and trendy dresses that would suit a range of ages.
One item I’d selected had been sold by the time I got to checkout, but the site did give me the option of getting the staff to do a physical check on stock levels and get back to me.
The images were clear and easy to view. I liked that when there were models shown, they actually looked like real women.
My only niggle (and it’s not a big one) was the abbreviations used in some of the item descriptions. ‘HSP’ that had me stumped for awhile – even when I google it, I came up with highly sensitive person…hmm….no…. Anyway, after looking on the size guide, turns out that it means High Shoulder Point – from shoulder to garment hem… another was a skirt had a ‘cb’ length… still not sure what that means, guessing it’s length from waist to hem.
The signing in and paying was easy and the payment process went without a hitch.
I didn’t see an email newsletter signup on the site, but they did offer a Loyalty Rewards scheme.
The website is not yet optimised for mobile viewing, but I’m not sure I would do my online shopping over a phone anyway.
As part of the review, we sent an email to customer service enquiring as to the length of a particular dress. I’m never hopeful about replies in these instances. But much to my amazement I had a reply within a couple of hours that was friendly and very helpful.
Once I’d placed my order, I receive an email confirmation and was momentary confused with more abbreviations – this time the company name / email address ….(BFC) what/who? Then I remember that was what the site was called, Ballentynes Fashion Central. The ‘Fashion Central’ was so tiny I’d missed it.
Shipping was stated as a very reasonable $5. But by the time I got to the cart, it was calculated as free (my order totalled: $85.00). Although I don’t recall seeing the incentive of free shipping anywhere on the site.
Delivery was stated as 3-5 working days for NZ orders. So I was again amazed when the next day (yes, you read that right) a courier was dropping off the parcel and requiring a signature. To recap; I placed my order at noon on the Thursday and it arrived Friday 1pm. Wow.
The items were packed in tissue paper and plastic and also included was a Returns Bag and a free lint roller. A very nice touch.
I was really happy with the items that I purchased online. I’ll post images in another blog post, but I ordered:
- Black Bengaline dress – size 12 – Runway NYC
- Black and White jacquard design – size 12 – Analytic
- Purple blast Printed dry knit printed – size M/L – City Collection
I’m generally a standard size 12 in most clothing, maybe a 14 on the bottom (being a pear shape) and I think this is why the dress didn’t quite work on me. Really happy with the jackets. Perhaps I could have gone down a size in the City Collection jacket, but at least I can layer this one up with some merino underneath.
So, a review would not be complete without returning something. Usually I would just keep and try to sell on my TradeMe shop. In this case I decided to return the black dress – there was nothing wrong with it per se, just not right on my body. I put on the slip that I would be happy for a credit (as yes, I do plan to go back) but I don’t think this was an option that was offered.
I used my local courier, just so I could track the parcel arrived back at Ballentynes. A week or so went by and I actually forgot about it. But just looked into it again, and the courier arrived with Ballentynes Returns on the 7th May at 1pm. So I checked my credit card and yes, the full amount I paid for the dress has been credited to my account the following day.
The only thing missing was some sort of notification saying that this had been done.
So all in all, I would rate Ballentynes as one of the better online shopping experiences I’ve had (and yes, I’ve had a few). The website is well designed and easy to use, the payment process is simple and the delivery and customer service was outstanding. I can highly recommend online shopping at Ballentynes. Well-done!
Note: This isn’t a paid post, in any way, shape or form. This was just me documenting my shopping experience using my own credit card. So these opinions are unbiased in any way.