If you are a Costco shopper in the UK you have probably been eagerly awaiting the unveiling of the new Costco.co.uk online shopping site. I know I’ve been waiting for it since I moved here. The good news is that the new online shopping site is live (it went live 25 October 2012, it was when I was sick and not really posting) and you can start shopping for all of the great products that you can find online that you can’t find in the warehouses.
The online shopping site has some items that you can find in the warehouses, but most of them, over 95% of actually, are items that you can’t find in your local Costco warehouse. And a lot of it is big stuff, that you wouldn’t want to try to bring home in your normal family car anyway. You’re not going to be able to fit a whole set of dining room or bedroom furniture in the back of your minivan no matter how good y0u are at packing. So, it’s a good thing that delivery is included in the prices online. And if you order big things like a set of furniture you get white glove delivery service that unwraps and assembles the item in the room and removes all the packaging. How incredible is that?
Some other basics about the new Costco.co.uk shopping site are that you can use all the major credit and debit cards – American Express, Visa, MasterCard and Maestro. Also, if you are not a Costco member, you can still purchase items through their online store, however, you will be charged a 5% surcharge, as well as appropriate VAT naturally. The only other thing to keep in mind is that you will need to sign up for an account at Costco.co.uk before purchasing anything and if you have a Costco membership number you’ll need to add it to your profile so that you can avoid the 5% non-member surcharge.
Costco.co.uk still offers all of the other great benefits that you love about Costco like their great return policy (only 90 days on electronics like televisions or cameras though), exceptional pricing on quality products, and wonderful customer service. So, it is all of the things you love about shopping at Costco, just online so you can shop anytime from anywhere you can get to a computer!
Costco.co.uk has eleven main categories:
- Furniture & Home
- Jewellery & Gifts
- Children & Toys
- Sports & Fitness
- Food, Wine & Spirits
- Health & Beauty
- Hardware & Automotive
- Outdoor & Floral
- Seasonal & Books
- Business Supplies
And under each of those big categories are several sub-categories that you can use to drill down to the products you are looking for. Alternatively, if you know right what you want, you can just use the search box. The way that the website functions is pretty much like all of the other online shopping that you’ve done. Find a product, add the product to your basket, and then checkout. However, unlike a lot of websites you do get a lot of product information. This is one of the things that I’ve always appreciated and applauded on the Costco shopping sites, they do not skimp on the product information. This is especially useful when you are buying furniture or things like that where the measurements are important to know before you buy. No one wants to buy a giant sofa that turns out to be way, way too big for your room and you only find it out when they deliver it.
I was surprised that the UK site has not gone with the new look and feel that the US and Canada shopping sites have rolled out recently but maybe they are planning to update the look in the future. There might be a lot of categories, but at this point they don’t have tons and tons of products on the site like they do in the US, however, I expect their product line to increase over time. They’ve got a good selection of items though considering that they just went live a few weeks ago. And you can certainly see right away that there are lots and lots of things that you can get online that you’d not see at all in the warehouses. Some of the products you can find online are speciality items like a unicycle or a single person micro powered access platform (think scaffolding that raises and lowers on a scissor hinge mechanism). And naturally, some of the items are rather expensive jewellery pieces that would be hard to keep in the stores because of security issues, like the £359,999.98 4.25 ct diamond solitaire ring currently on the site. Not surprisingly, that seems to be the most expensive item on the website at the moment and will certainly make someone a very nice gift!
There are a couple of little things about the new site that I’m hoping they fix soon, however. Unlike on the Costco US and Canada sites, Costco.co.uk does not yet have customer reviews for the products. I’m hoping that they will get that soon though because I think that adds a lot to the shopping experience and is a valuable resource for shoppers (maybe I’m biased about that because of writing this blog and hoping that my reviews help fellow Costco shoppers or maybe it is just that customer reviews are ubiquitous and it seems odd that they skipped this feature). I think it would have been great to set the site up with reviews from the very beginning to start collecting all that useful customer information and feedback right away, but perhaps they were thinking they just wanted to get the site up and running without issues first and can add all of the bells and whistles over time.
The other thing I’m really surprised they don’t have yet is a more robust online Customer Support service. They have lots of individual bits of information peppered around the site, like a page for the concierge services for electronics,information about diamonds and jewellery, and a general purpose FAQ/Help page but no place where you can ask questions directly via email about products or order information or any of the other million things that come up when you are shopping online. They do have email addresses listed for membership and website questions but they don’t have the online forms that you would find on the Costco Canada or US sites. This has me worried for the people at the other end of those email addresses. Of course, they do have phone numbers that you can call as well (they’re in the FAQ where appropriate).
Now, if you are like me and have a Costco US membership number, you might have a little bit of a problem registering right now. It seems that they have a bug or something where it won’t accept my Costco US membership number as valid and thus, I would have to pay the 5% surcharge if I bought anything through Costco.co.uk. I’ve got an email in to the technical support team about this issue and will let you know what they say. I thought at first that they were somehow not letting members from other Costco locations shop through Costco.co.uk but when I read the FAQ it made me think that it must just be a bug with the website and not an actual policy since it states:
Can customers and Costco Wholesale members outside the UK order goods from costco.co.uk? Yes, as long as the goods are for delivery in the UK, we accept orders originating in most other countries.
So, we shall see. I’m hoping that this is something they get fixed up quickly because there are a few items that I wanted to get before the holidays. I’ll post an update when I hear back from the technical team at Costco.co.uk.
All in all though, I think that the Costco.co.uk online shopping site is great and will be really useful to the UK members. If you are a Costco member in the UK, you should definitely check it out and sign up for their email newsletter that talks about the newest products and deals on the website too (you can sign up right from the homepage, just below all of the featured products). I think they send out an email about every 4 or 5 days maybe, so it isn’t too overwhelming, but you can keep up on all the cool products online.