Monday, 1 August 2011

M&S Wine Direct

Some weeks ago we were invited to review M&S Wine Direct.

MnS wine 1 homepage

Rather than having their marketing representative place the order, we suggested that it would be a far better review if we navigated the website ourselves, placed a direct order as a regular customer and assessed the entire process as well as the wine.

A value was agreed (and payment transferred to us directly) and we were left to our own devices to make our choice and order.

MnS wine 11 mixed case reds classic claret detail

We decided to take the opportunity to buy a smaller number of more expensive bottles, hoping for something better than the bottles we most commonly buy for around a tenner.

We chose a case of 6 Classic Claret wines priced at £130.97, working out to £21.83 per bottle.

Delivery went without a hitch and the bottles arrived in good condition.

Wanting more input on our assessments, we shared the bottles with friends and family. Unfortunately, everyone was in agreement.

Five of the six bottles were deemed "alright" but not as good as expected for the price. Independently, the same refrain was repeated – that the feedback would be more positive were the bottles priced between £10 and £12 but that they simply didn't justify £20+. And one of the six bottles would have been disappointing even at £10.

Based on our experience, we're not sure we'd rush to order wine from M&S Wine Direct again.

We're curious now about whether their less expensive wines are a better deal.

Perhaps, if a specific wine we already knew and liked (not just region but vineyard, style and year) were particularly well priced, we'd consider buying from M&S. But the chances of this seem remote.

And possibly if we needed to send a wine gift via the post, we might order it through M&S. However, if we'd been sent this case as a gift, I'd have guessed the value to be half of what we actually paid for it. When we spend money on a gift, we want our budget to go as far as possible and want to coddle our recipient, not underwhelm them!

Have you ordered wine from M&S Wine Direct?

What did you think? Was the wine you received good value at the price you paid?

Do please let us know, in the comments.

Using The Website

MnS wine 1 homepage

From the home page, select an initial category to view such as Mixed Cases or cases/ bottles of Champagne, Red Wine, White Wine, Rosé Wine, Single Bottle Gifts and so on.

MnS wine 2 mixed cases

Here, Mixed Cases has been selected. Current special offers are listed first, then the rest of the cases are sorted in order of popularity with customers. A dropdown at the top allows you to sort by price or user rating or to show new products first.

MnS wine 3 mixed cases filtered to reds MnS wine 4 mixed cases filtered to reds and then 12 missing one

Filters don't work well.

For example, viewing all Mixed Cases (above) shows 3 cases of 12 red bottles. But clicking on the filters at the left to narrow down to red wine and to cases of 12 bottles results in only 2 cases being displayed.

Likewise, viewing all Mixed Cases reveals a case of 6 called Sparkling Celebration. But clicking on the filter for Mixed Sparkling, only two options are listed, and Sparkling Celebration isn't one of them.

This issue is prevalent throughout the site; more care needs to be taken by M&S to correctly categorise and flag all products loaded to the site.

In the mean time, we'd suggest you plough through all the products within each category rather than relying on the filters at all.

MnS wine 7 beer is navigated food and wine then wine and then beer

Beers are listed within Wine Direct. Perhaps it's just us but if we were looking for beers on the Marks & Spencer website, it wouldn't occur to us to select Wine from the Food & Wine main menu (to bring up Wine Direct) and then search down the left to find beers.

MnS wine 11 mixed case reds classic claret detail MnS wine 12 showing labels details in classic claret case

Detailed information and guidance is provided about each product.

Mixed Cases show an image of the collection of bottles together and list them separately in the product details below.

Also provided are individual images of the bottle labels for all bottles in the collection; you can zoom into these sufficiently to read them clearly.

MnS wine 13 video about clarets from classic clarets page

Some products also provide an informational videos such as the Classic Claret case and the Charles Freminet Brut Champagne.

MnS wine 14 delivery and returns information

Standard delivery (within 5 days) costs £3.50. We opted to pay £4.95 in order to be able to nominate a specific delivery date.

Delivery is free on orders over £150.

MnS wine 16 my basket

Adding items to our basket was easy.

The check out process necessitated registering an account for the website, but this didn't take too long and the name and address information fed back through to the relevant delivery fields.

MnS wine 20 delivery date

We didn't have any problem selecting a delivery date. All upcoming Mondays to Saturdays were available.

From there we simply entered credit card information, confirmed the order, were shown an order confirmation page and sent a confirmation email.

Kavey Eats tried M&S Wine Direct courtesy of M&S.


Foodycat said...

The M&S website has the same glitches with filters for clothes, I have noticed! What a great shame the wines weren't that good. Very surprising, when the ones with "Dine in for £10" are always exceptionally good value!

Kavey said...

Yes, they are indeed! We were really surprised, to be honest.

A Stevenson said...

I think you are being a little unfair on M&S saying that you wouldn't buy from them again as the wines weren't good value.

Wine is always subjective when it comes to whether you like it or not, but it does have pricing levels that can - particularly in the case of Bordeaux - operate independently of quality, at least for wines that are imported into the UK. The Bordelais have an inflated regard for their wines, which often in my experience isn't deserved. In general I find most claret at this price level disappointing.

A quick look at shows that the prices for the wines listed in this mixed case, while not massive bargains, are fairly in the right ballpark, particularly given the age of some of them at least.

How did the wines compare to other 5-10 year old petits chateaux claret that you've had? It's unusual find wines with that sort of age in supermarkets, where wines are current vintage (i.e. 2009-2011 currently).

By offering wines with a bit of age on them like some of these, M&S are putting themselves up against specialist wine merchants. That's interesting in itself, but I wonder if M&S are providing the pre-sales advice that such wines may need.

Agree with the filter glitches which do mar an otherwise very good e-commerce website.

Incidentally, were the wines you received from the advertised vintages? This is one of the biggest problems wine lovers have with supermarkets: the barcode doesn't change from vintage to vintage, so they don't distinguish. But it can make a big difference as to whether the wine is desirable or a good price.

Kavey said...

Hi Andrew

That their pricing is about on the money for the wines listed is good to know, many thanks for checking that and letting us know.

I would say straight up, when we felt they were not good value, we were not comparing them with other 5-10 year old petits chateaux clarets but much more widely to a wide variety of red wines priced at around the £20 that we have purchased from supermarkets and wine merchants.

So, it's a fair point you have made that our mental comparison wasn't like for like, and perhaps these are absolutely as good a claret as you can get for the price.

In that case, I'd say that if we're looking to spend this kind of price per bottle, we'll steer away from clarets, going forward.

I will dig out the photographs we took of the wines when they arrived/ we opened them and check whether or not the vintages sent match those advertised. It didn't occur to me that they wouldn't, so I confess I didn't check.

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave your comment.