Member Name: historywitch
Advantages: Cheap, wellstocked, excellent customer service, quick delivery, lots of choice, well organised site
Disadvantages: No dispatch notification
The website is extremely professional, well set out, easy to read and it is extremely easy to find what you are looking for from the categories down the side, or the search box at the top. I went straight into the childrenís section but had a quick surf through the other areas for the purposes of this review and found an astonishing array of professional materials in carefully subdivided categories. It really is amazingly easy to find what you want e.g. clicking on Colour Sets brings up 6 subcategories dealing with different painting techniques, which are then again subdivided on the main page into different materials and types of paint. In addition to all the usual arty stuff (easels, paper, canvases, pens, paints, paintbrushes, charcoals etc) they also have a section for Manga Art materials and also Body Art and Tanning.
The Childrenís Section is again subdivided so you donít have to look through pages and pages of irrelevant stuff to find what you are looking for, or alternately gives you some ideas as to what you might like to buy if you are just browsing.
Used to Swiss prices for childrenís art materials this site compares very favourably, although I have to admit to not being aware of how much these things cost in the UK. A packet of six small glitter glue pens are 79p, 120 foam shapes are 99p and 50 Chenille Stems (thatís pipe cleaners to you and me) are 99p. A quick overview of other products shows that they have put the RRP next to most products and are offering a small saving on about 95% of the products I looked at. I was very tempted by some of the childrenís craft books and have bookmarked some of the fairy craft books as prospective Christmas presents, as sadly my daughter is convinced she is a fairy and shows no sign of coming out of this stage yet.
Another idea I liked was the idea of Summer Rescue Packs, which are several of the separate childrenís craft sets, plus extra bits and bobs which have been put together at a great price. The Junior Pack 1 which is on the front page (which has all the latest special offers on it), offers £52 of stuff for £39.99; good value if it keeps your kids quiet for a week or two!
If you are looking for a present and are bamboozled by all of the choice eVouchers are available from £5 to £100 , something that I will be doing for several arty relatives this year!
Simply add the required number to your basket in the top right hand corner and you can add or edit at any time before you decide to check out. Once you are ready to check out you are asked to fill in a few details before you are taken to the main checkout page. At the bottom of the page are the items from your basket, whilst above it is the address information which you can edit to deliver to another address if necessary. But for me the best bit about this page is that it has the delivery cost next to the address and you can see it change as you add or remove stuff from the basket. My first basket cost me £9 in delivery so I did some jigging around and got it down to £5 and then £3 by removing some of the unnecessary items. As an overseas buyer this is such a useful tool, I cannot tell you how often I have been caught out at this stage on other sites by completely extortionate delivery costs (£50 for a £25 shop for example). I bought mostly light bits and pieces but I checked out without feeling that I had been completely ripped off by the shop.
I ordered on the 15th August and got an automated confirmation with order number within minutes. The goods arrived on the 25th August, which for overseas delivery is actually pretty brilliant. The bits I had ordered arrived in a white jiffy bag, well sealed and protected and had been put into a clear plastic bag to keep everything together in case of damage to the outer packaging. It is these little extra details that really make for a good shopping experience and I wish more shops would follow their example having had several severely bashed parcels delivered recently.
The only negative thing I have to say about this site is that they donít send out notification when something has been dispatched so I was left wondering when my bits and bobs would arrive. However, when I emailed (politely I must add) a query about this yesterday I got an email apologising profusely within two hours, offering to resend my order if it hadnít arrived by Tuesday. I honestly donít think I have had better customer service and this little piece of goodwill on their part has encouraged me to use their shop again, over any other shop because I know that I will get a prompt, efficient and professional service with very little hassle.
***Would I recommend them?***
YES! They have an extremely wide range of goods, an easy to navigate website, excellent support and are competitively priced. I can thoroughly recommend them!
Summary: Ideas needed for 49 glittery pipecleaners!