I’m sort of quite a big fan of Rakuten’s Play.com. I say sort of, because I never really remember to actually use it which is annoying because as well as being a fan, I approve of them too. I approve of any selling platform which attempts to find its feet against the world dominating corporations and I approve of them a whole lot more since they ceased selling product on their own account and handed their marketplace entirely over to smaller merchants. I appreciate that may not have been an altruistic move as such, but the net effect is that they’ve created a place where smaller retailers have a level playing field to pitch up on and trade – and for me, as an internet retailer, I’m good with that. Plus, their sales team ring me at work sometimes and they are unfailingly polite, friendly, just down the road from me and patient. And I get a feel good factor from that too. I’m all about the little man and even big little men have my vote.
Rakuten’s Play asked me to have a go at spending 8000 Superpoints on their site and see what I made of it. From the start, I was impressed. The sign up was easy and (being a sucker for a freebie) I love the idea of reward points to save or spend. As someone who spends a lot of time working on the design and organisation of retail websites, I’m picky. I like my navigation clear and I like the categories to be defined and numerous enough that if I look in one, it isn’t full of all sorts of things merchants couldn’t find elsewhere. Rakuten’s Play.com ticked both those boxes and it also pleased me that when you click into an item, the available merchants are clearly visible straight away; you can compare prices and feedback immediately.
Rakuten’s Play.com has branched out a lot; I’m already reasonably familiar with the toy section and I wasn’t surprised to see brands and retailers there I know but I was pleasantly surprised by what else was available. Dancewear was easy to navigate with Pineapple making it into my basket straightaway. I had a pleasant run through the book and DVD department but also spent a while musing in the experience section (mum’s are so hard to buy for!) and got a little carried away with gadgets.
Inevitably I had to do some comparison on price with the ‘warrior women’ shopping experience. Because Rakuten’s Play is still governed by the merchants selling on it, it is pretty competitive – I didn’t find any massive differences in price to elsewhere on the internet. Shipping is built into all prices which levels the playing field across all the offers and is good in that respect, though I guess it means buying a number of small items from one merchant might not be so cost effective. In fact,my only gripe is there is no huge incentive to buy everything from one seller – and that means lots of parcels costing fuel etc rather than just one.
Over all, yes, I liked it. I’m drawn in by Superpoints as a loyalty bonus and inclined to like the shopping experience overall for being clear, smooth and easy to use. I’ll even go as far as to say I’ll be swinging my shopping in that direction from now on.
Well done Rakuten’s Play.com, you are all grown up and looking good 🙂 Thanks for inviting me.
Disclosure: we were given Superpoints to spend at Play.com in exchange for this review. Opinions are my own and honest.