I was offered some online credit in order to test out Rakuten’s Play.com and tell you all what I thought of it. I was quite excited by the prospect. First of all I am a Queen of online shopping, and second of all, Play.com (as it was originally) and I are old friends. I logged back into my account there for the first time in *cough* a while, and discovered that the first order I’d ever placed was on February 22nd 2000, for a copy of Ghostbusters on DVD. That will have been shortly after we bought our first DVD player, and Play.com was the place online to order your DVDs from. Reading through my order history I found many old favourite films and CDs along with a small selection of video games. I was a regular customer for years.
Then, rather abruptly at the end of 2010, my account history stops. I didn’t have any kind of falling out with Play.com, I just started buying elsewhere. I guess it was about this time that we started buying our movies and music in digital, downloadable form rather than physical media. Play.com and I just kind of drifted apart, went our separate ways. In the words of the old cliche – it wasn’t Play.com, it was me.
However whilst I’ve been neglecting it, it would appear that Play.com has changed. Reinvented itself even. There’s the new name for a start – it’s now Rakuten’s Play.com. I logged back in and hardly recognised the place. The layout still has a vaguely familiar feel, but the range of products has expanded immensely. No longer simply selling CDs and DVDs, this is now a complete online shopping experience selling toys, clothes, household goods, electricals, pretty much anything you could possibly want.
One other significant change has happened since I last shopped. Rakuten’s Play.com no longer sell their own stock, but rather act as an online marketplace. When you view any item you will see a list of all the different vendors offering that item, their price and their percentage of positive feedback received from previous customers. Most vendors also give some indication of their shipping timescale as well, and all of this allows you to make informed choices about the vendor from which you buy.
Another change to the site is that a loyalty scheme has been introduced – every time you make a purchase from any vendor you earn SuperPoints – 1 SuperPoint per pound you spend (rounded up, which was nice to see). You can use your SuperPoints to pay for future purchases – 1 SuperPoint is equal to 1p, so it’s like getting 1% cashback on everything you buy. It’s really easy to pay with your SuperPoints – as you check out there’s an option to use as many or as few as you want in part or full payment.
Now, I must confess I’m not usually a very organised Christmas shopper. I’m usually the one who doesn’t get organised until Christmas Eve, so trying to do Christmas shopping in November is a bit of an alien concept for me. But I already had a few things in mind that I want to get for the kids, so I took the opportunity to buy what I could from Rakuten’s Play.com. I ordered things from the toys and electricals sections – a new umbrella for the geekson, a Hello Kitty nail care set for the geekdaughter (there’s a story behind that which I’ll have to tell another day), new child-friendly iPad cases for both kids and finally I treated myself to a case for my Kindle Fire. I got a couple of other things as well, but they’re for people who might read this so I won’t mention them! I ordered from several different traders, and the delivery estimates went from as little as 3-4 working days to as much as 10-14 working days for a couple of things being sent from America. I think the widespread availability of next day delivery has rather spoiled me, but an advantage of Rakuten’s Play.com is that delivery is always free, so that offsets the slightly longer delivery times in my mind. I placed my order last Monday night and at the time of writing (Sunday night) all my items have arrived with the exception of the two ordered from the States, and everything arrived within its predicted delivery window. I should say that you can, at checkout, pay for faster delivery if you want your items faster, but this far in advance of Christmas I didn’t think that was necessary.
When comparing prices with other online stores, Rakuten’s Play.com was competitive for the items I was looking at. In some cases the items could be found slightly cheaper elsewhere, and in other cases Play.com was slighty cheaper. So whilst I wouldn’t recommend switching wholesale to Play.com for all your online shopping needs, it’s definitely worth adding to your list of sites to check prices on before buying anything.
I’ve also inadvertently discovered another nice feature of Rakuten’s Play.com – if you have any problems with an item or a trader then they provide everything you need to first of all contact the trader directly and that fails they will then intercede to assist. I managed to order the wrong size Kindle Fire case (totally my own fault), and found it very easy to leave a message for the trader to ask if I could return or exchange it. I’m still waiting to hear back, but Rakuten’s Play.com say if I have not heard anything in three days I can enlist their help.
So if, like me, you used to shop at Play.com but haven’t done for a while, it might be worth a return visit when you’re Christmas shopping. And if you haven’t tried Rakuten’s play.com before, check it out and see what you think. As for me, whilst I’m not sure my relationship with Rakuten’s Play.com may not ever go back to what it once was, I have a feeling it’s not over yet…
All images from the Rakuten’s Play.com website, used with permission
Disclosure: I was provided with 8,000 SuperPoints for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own, and are honest and unbiased.