LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 02: Shoppers stand outside a branch of the House of Fraser department store in Oxford Street on January 2, 2014 in London, England. Department stores House of Fraser and John Lewis have announced they experienced good trading over Christmas while shares in Debenhams have fallen following the company's poor sales during the same period. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

House of Fraser is the UK’s most prepared department store online, ahead of the Christmas shopping period, according to a study by commerce agency Ampersand.

Its flexible fulfilment options, including same day delivery in London and Birmingham, locker collection services and free standard delivery – key features for consumers during the gift buying season – helped it edge in front of M&S, BHS and Selfridges.

Christmas is a crucial period for department stores and Ampersand’s research scored retailers according to a range of services that should be implemented in order to provide a good online shopping experience during this make or break season.


These features include: offering a persistent cart (the ability to add items to your basket on one device and checkout on another), fast website speed, clear navigation, location services, a transactional mobile site, express delivery, click and collect and free returns.

Ampersand managing director Darryl Adie said: “I imagine many will be surprised to learn that stores such as House of Fraser and BHS beat out John Lewis, according to our research. Having a robust multichannel offering in place is key for high street retailers looking to compete with pure plays over Christmas and this is something House of Fraser does particularly well.

“At Christmas a consumers need to trust that they will receive order gifts in-hand. The in-store experiences of Selfridges and John Lewis may be designed to wow shoppers ahead of Christmas, however, their delivery services for online ordering fall short in several key areas when compared to other department stores.”

With many shoppers now doing their Christmas shopping online, and 49% of consumers having used click and collect, effective fulfilment is paramount to ensuring that consumers eager to purchase gifts are not left empty-handed.

Matalan, which just made the top ten, lost points for its comparatively long lead time, of six to seven working days for click and collect. All of the other stores in the top ten have a next day lead time, with Argos processing its click and collect orders immediately.

John Lewis, a store usually associated with the festive season due to its annual ad campaigns, lost points for not offering automatic geolocation services on its desktop website and for limited express delivery options.

Debenhams lost points for not offering faceted navigation – allowing users to filter a list of products by many criteria – something which is essential to shopping online and, according to Ampersand’s research, 81% of the department stores surveyed provide.

Luxury stores such as Harrods and Liberty missed out on the top ten due to their limited delivery options and relatively long lead times for click and collect, or in Harrods’ case for not offering click and collect at all.

The study was conducted the week commencing 19 October 2015. Several sources were used for selecting the department stores for this research, including, but not limited to IMRG, Experian and Sitemorse.

The top department stores according to Ampersand’s research:

Position 1: House of Fraser
Position 2: Marks & Spencer
Joint 3rd: BHS, Selfridges
Joint 5th: Argos, Debenhams, John Lewis
Joint 8th position: Tesco Direct, George (Asda)
Position 10: Matalan