What retail has the best online shopping experience?

I used to say Chanel, because they always packaged everything beautifully, processed and shipped orders quickly, and had top notch customer service… but their website has slowed down a lot for me, which makes me hesitate now (even though all the other things are still true!). Beautylish would be the next one up for me, as they also process and ship quickly, package well, and have a smooth website/checkout process.

— Christine

39 Comments

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Daisy Campbell Avatar

While I am a huge fan of Ulta, but dislike the one stock photo they show online for each product. I like how Sephora has their website set up and has many photos available, etc. So I enjoy the actual process of shopping Sephora’s website over Ulta’s.

Celesta Avatar

Beautylish, definitely! Everything I’ve ever ordered from them has been beautifully packaged and arrives within a couple of days after I ordered it. I also had a great experience with Muse Beauty recently.

I wish Sephora and Ulta took a page out of Beautylish’s book.

Emily Avatar

Tatcha’s online shopping experience gets an A+++ from me. I can’t use all their products, but the ones I like, I love, and every little thing that they send out makes me feel special. So much thought and care seems to go in to every detail. And when I have emailed questions about products or routines, they have gotten back to me promptly, with no boiler-plate responses, just a real message from a real person.

Pearl Avatar

Hands down for me, Beautylish is the best – streamlined checkout process, appropriate (and charming!) packaging and fast shipping. It seems like every place else is starting to skimp (Nordstrom, Sephora, Nieman Marcus) in one way or another, especially with packaging and shipping speed.

Kate Avatar

Sephora for speed. I have the flash 2 day shipping but I can order something and have it in like 12 hours. The actual packaging that Sephora need a lot of work though.
I find Sugarpill to have the fastest and best well packaged shipping. I got my order in 2 days and it was packaged the same way MAC packages things, except a little more cushion.

I usually order most things from Sephora (except when it’s an indie brand obviously), so I can’t vouch much for other shipping

Celia Avatar

Beautylish, Pat McGrath, and Tom Ford for me. Beautylish is of course incredible about notifying you when your item is in, having incredible payment options like 2-3 month breakdowns, and if you get text notifications they will happily handle your order for you. Pat McGrath has incredibly easy checkout, quick shipping, and fantastic email CS. Tom Ford packages beautifully and arrives incredibly fast.

SusanG Avatar

Beauty Boutique (Shopper’s Drug Mart site, Canadian). Orders arrive very quickly, and are packaged beautifully. The site could use some improvement as far as product descriptions are concerned. In that respect, Sephora is much better.

Jujubes Avatar

I love Beauty Boutique too! They are always packaged very well, no problems with anything breaking, even the fragile pressed powders. I do agree, a bit more product descriptions would be better. I also wish they carried more brands that I normally get at Sephora since the points are valuable!

Deborah S. Avatar

I have been most impressed with Beautilish in terms of packing and quick shipping. I don’t love their website as it is frustrating when you have looked at several different shades of a product and then to back out you have to back through all of the shades. I find that frustrating. I like using Sephora’s website but even though I have Rouge flash shipping there always seem to be excuses for why my order can’t ship within that time frame. I placed an order in early January which took almost two weeks to get to me. A week after I placed the order at Sephora I placed one with @fudejapan and received my package from Japan in 3 days!

Nancy T Avatar

Without hesitation; Beautylish! They show a very caring attitude towards the consumer, always packing everything very carefully and well protected. They take their customer care very seriously, and want to make the shopping experience with them a very easy and pleasant one.
Runners up: Dose Of Color and MAC. I would have still had ColourPop on that short list, but the last few packages I’ve received from them weren’t as securely wrapped inside as were previously.

Priscila Avatar

Huge fan of Beautylish! I wish other brands would take notice. They have fast shipping, the best packaging ever, and outstanding customer service. They also have no-interest payment plans which is an added bonus for me. The only downside to them is the number of brands they carry.

Kitty Avatar

Definitely Beautylish. Also Sugarpill. Both sites not only show ingredients for all products but have quick shipping and excellent packing/packaging.

I’ve been disappointed with Sephora since they deleted the Q&As on the product pages. The Q&As gave super valuable insight in differences between various products/colors/etc.

Stephanie Avatar

Beautyboutique (Canada), Charlotte Tilbury and Clinique all ship quickly and package so nicely. Yes, even staid Clinique wraps your purchase in tissue and seals it with a silver sticker. I love feeling like I am getting a present, even if I paid for it myself.

Rachel R. Avatar

I’ve never bought from Beautylish, weirdly enough, but everyone always seems to rave about them. I haven’t found one retail site that seems to “have it all,” so maybe I need to try them! I buy from Sephora online the most.

Based on those I have bought from…

Shipping speed: Sephora

Ease of navigation: BH Cosmetics

Accurate shade pictures: Macy’s and Nordstrom

Selection: Sephora and Ulta

Packing: ColourPop

Customer Service: Nordstrom

Celia Avatar

Definitely try Beautylish! They have some hard to find items (especially in categories like brush/tool selection) as well as a large stock of major and indie heavy hitters. You can breakdown your payments, CS is fantastic, selection is unique and great. I shop a bit all over but Beautylish is my favorite standby.

Maggie Avatar

Ingredients list provided: love Dermstore and Ulta for their ingredients list postings

Free Shipping and Customer Service: Dermstore and Nordstrom for their free shipping with no minimum purchase plus free returns and overall great service. I also like their brand selection and ease of speaking to a real person when necessary.

Promotions: Dermstore and Paula’s Choice have frequent promotions. I order nearly monthly bc I dislike having backups of expired skincare

Overall: Sephora’s website is generally speedy and efficient to navigate, I enjoy the wide range of brands and have been generally satisfied with shipping and returns.

MacKenzie G. Avatar

I really like Glossier for the little bubble clutches they pack your stuff in. Eventually, you can accumulate too many of them, but to me, it’s nice to not have to throw out packaging all the time. Sephora is also pretty good regarding speed (not so much packing), and I really like Beautylish’s shipping time and packaging, but I’ve only ever ordered from them once.

Logan Avatar

Bare Minerals for the customer service! Any other brand would have just canceled orders after running out of that 10/$10 loose shadow deal on Black Friday. They sent a palette, gave us a coupon for $10 off and free shipping for our next purchase, and allowed us to get the deal in store.

bibi Avatar

Nordstrom- Everything arrives beautifully packed, returns are easy, quick shipping, rarely out of stock, and is you use your Nordsrom Visa you can earn points for Nordstrom “notes” that can be used to buy anything at Nordstrom (which is wayyy better than most other luxury dept stores that don’t give you anything back)

Beautylish- Love their website – especially the pics of swatches with products. Everything is beautifully packed & quickly shipped with a hand written note.

Worst= Ulta (I hate their website- slow & hard to find thngs), Dermstore =crappy return policy

Denise S. Avatar

Beautylish and Nordstrom. Beautylish has great packaging and a good payment program. Nordstrom has great customer service and fast shipping. Sephora has a good inventory but slow shipping even though I’m a Rouge! JCP Sephora has the worst customer service, I hate buying or returning anything from them!

Tracey E. Avatar

Beautylish is the gold standard for online retailing. I appreciate the extra mile they will go to show a swatch or help put together a skincare routine. From clearly marked inventory (i.e. what’s in stock, returning soon) to early sign ups to ease of returning items, I wish more companies were like Beautylish.

I’ve also had mostly positive experiences with Selfridges and Chanel.

Priscilla Avatar

Beautylish is a class act. I love receiving an order from them. Sephora is my go to for everything else because of flash shipping and insider sales.

Ariel Avatar

I think I’m the only person who thinks Beautylish packaging is a waste 🙁 I’m not crunchy and I don’t recycle – it’s just that I have a patience of a 9 year old and it takes forever to open and then throwing it all away!

I’ve honestly had good luck with most sites – I use Deciem, Colourpop, Amazon, Nordstroms, Laura Mercier, Sephora and Ulta for cosmetic online ordering and so far, so good!

brittany Avatar

I don’t order makeup online that much. My two favorite online brands are Colourpop and Zoya Nail Polish.

Colourpop is always pretty with their boxes and notes, and if there is a back order, they makeup up for it with one free full size product. Zoya packaging is very simple. For the most part, Colourpop and Zoya are fairly quick with shipping, and I have had only one thing come back broken from each brand. Zoya and Colourpop have seriously improved their website swatch images.

Silvia Avatar

Colourpop and WetnWild have been straight perfect and WetnWild has been helpful on the phone also. No complaints. Cheap but great service with both.

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