Earlier this month, I was asked by Cooking.com to do a review of their site. I was sent $50 in gift certificates to buy something from them in order to do the review. [I want to get the details out there up front, so you can decide whether or not I’ve compromised whatever journalistic integrity I may have had.]
I’m still not exactly sure how one can review a website, but I asked fans of gezellig-girl.com on Facebook what this review should include, and I got some pretty good questions.
How good the website was to use: I found it a little difficult and overwhelming to navigate through, frankly. For instance, after looking around for a while, I found an interactive selection guide, buried halfway down in their cookware page, which will display only the cookware that meets your specific needs (non-stick, cast iron, oven-safe, and so on). It was easy to use and incredibly helpful in finding what I wanted (I used it to pick a new cast iron skillet), but why this feature isn’t front and center when you click cookware, I have no idea.
How fast and accurate was the shipping: Surprisingly fast, particularly as the aforementioned skillet I bought was backordered, but it arrived at my door several days before it was going to be back in stock. However, this brings up another downside to the site: it’s not immediately obvious what’s out of stock when looking at a list of items. Scroll through this page of casseroles… did you pick up that the ones with a tiny “Info” button (rather than one saying “Buy”) are out of stock right now? (I know I didn’t.)
How competitive are the prices: The prices, even on their sale items, appear to be on a par with Amazon.com, although a few items I checked on were a couple dollars more expensive on Cooking.com. More importantly, unlike Amazon (and really, unlike most major online retailers these days), there’s no free shipping of any sort. In fact, their shipping process seems a bit byzantine: “Approximately $4.99 for the first four pounds + $0.50 for each additional pound. Actual shipping charges may be lower or higher.” And “there may be more than one shipping charge applied to your order,” depending on if your item ships from a third-party vendor. I bought a (much-needed) digital scale, which shipped directly from a vendor ($6.99) and the skillet shipped from Cooking.com (for $7.74) — so, nearly $15 for shipping two items, both of which are currently selling for the same price from Amazon with free shipping besides.
So… is it good? …Eh. I can’t give it an outright “no” here, just because the site is absolutely enormous and has items that someone must be looking for. Surely some cooks are just absolutely bereft without a Le Creuset citrus juicer in Caribbean, and I assume many people don’t avoid Paula Deen and Rachael Ray like a fresh dog turd on a hot summer sidewalk — but I’m not in either of those potential market segments. For the average online shopper, a cook who’s looking for something not very specific and for not too much money, I’m sorry to say that you probably want to look elsewhere.