Visit the Retail Store if you have a choice ... but the website has improved
Jan 4, 2004 (Updated Aug 21, 2009)
|Ease of Ordering:
I am fortunate to live in the midst of several brick-and-mortar Jo-Ann stores. The stores are filled with merchandise to delight any crafter or sewer’s heart. I enjoy poking through the aisles filled with notions, beads and quilting goodies. So when holiday gift-buying arrived, and with time crunching in on me ... I decided to save a store visit and shop at Joann.com. They promote themselves as “Jo-Ann Stores Online Fabric and Crafts Superstore”. How could I go wrong?
At first glance, the opening screen of Joann.com is confusing. The eyes want to jump everywhere without a focus point. The page is visually too busy. Here is how the site navigation is presented:
The top of the Welcome Page includes two horizontal navigation bars. The larger of the two bars has buttons with these choices (products & supplies, best sellers, projects & advice, about Jo-Ann stores, bulletin boards). A narrower navigation bar beneath the large one offers: sign in, my account, shopping basket, contact us, store locator, add to favorites.
The left side of the Welcome Page offers a vertical navigation bar. A search box is at the top, and a sign-up for Jo-Ann’s e-mail news is beneath it. Then the navigation bar lists areas of interest by category (new items, clearance, best sellers, fabric, home decor, sewing, quilting, crafts, rubber stamping & scrapbooking, knit & crochet, needle arts, lighting, storage & totes, framed art & mirrors, bookstore). Another navigation menu offers an Online Sales Flyer and the Store Sales Flyer. Beneath this is a menu where the visitor can search by product brand name.
The center of the Welcome Page is stuffed with a mix of promotions. Today, at the top is a banner announcing Free Shipping with an order over $25, as well as a book written by Jo-Ann Store personnel about quilting, and another promotion offering 80% off selected items. Beneath this banner are sections titled: hot deal of the week, new at Joann.com, best sellers, sewing, quilting, rubber stamping & scrapbooking. Each of these sections features one product with a link to click for more information or additional products in each category.
This site is packed with products ... too many to list here. I enjoy browsing the site just to see what’s available and new. Here are some product highlights:
Scissors: Everything from electric scissors, to scissors with protective sheaths. Metal, plastic, small, large, and in all price ranges starting with children’s scissors at $2.59. They even offer scissor sharpeners and scissor point-protectors.
Fabric: Clicking on the “Fabric” button in the left navigation bar opens a screen showing fabrics by category: new, buying in bulk, clearance, seasonal, quilting prints & solids, fleece & flannel, casual fabrics, fashion fabrics, special occasion, licensed & children’s fabrics, batting & muslin, craft & decorator fabrics. I looked at a bunch of the fabrics and all of the ones I saw required buying the fabric in full yard increments. I would never buy Jo-Ann’s fabric online. Having visited Jo-Ann’s brick-and-mortar stores as well as talking with many quilting friends, we all agree that buying fabric at Jo-Ann’s requires an in-person visit. Some of their fabrics are not of good quality.
Beads: Using the Search feature and typing in the word “beads”, 69 matching products appeared in the Search window. These products include books about beading, beads, craft kits for adults and children, bead trays, and beading wire. Visitors can further refine the search by price, discount, content, color or brand name.
Rubberstamping & Scrapbooking: By clicking on the “Rubberstamping” link in the left navigation bar, a new screen opens with supplies broken into categories: new, stamp & scrap adhesives, cutting tools & punches, tools & storage, writing tools, albums & paper, rubber stamps & ink, stickers & templates, books. There are a huge array of products.
Larger Items: Joann.com also sells sewing machines (serger, embroidery, small mending machines and regular sewing machines). Into dressmaking? Four different dressforms are available ($99.99 to $335.99) . Jo-Ann’s also sells lighting products, irons, sewing machine cases and a large variety of totes and sewing baskets.
Gift Cards: Purchase gift cards in U.S. Dollar amounts. The gift cards are plastic and can be used either online or at a brick-and-mortar Jo-Ann store. Electronic gift cards can be sent via e-mail but are only good when used online at Joann.com. When ordering a plastic gift card from the website, a note comes with the gift card informing the recipient that a toll-free number must be called in order to activate the card (and the user will need the gift card number and pin number). Only one gift card can be used at a time when placing on online order. Note that if using a gift card online, if only part of the gift card amount is used, the remainder of the gift card amount will be placed in an online account for future use. However, if the amount is not used within 24 months, then Joann.com will start deducting $2.00 per month from the account.
The Search feature is convenient for pinpointing either a specific item or a group of items. By typing “scissors” into the search box and pressing the “go” button, a screen popped up with 107 matching products. A box at the top of the screen allows the visitor to refine the search by choosing to find scissors for: kids, best sellers, by price or discount, content, color of the scissors or search by brand name. Sometimes the search feature is sluggish to yield results. Since I have a cable modem and fast computer, I believe the problem is either with heavy visitor traffic, the website or the server Joann.com uses.
One helpful feature on the website is the Product Rating feature that appears on the page of every product. Consumers who have purchased and used the products are invited to rate the products and leave comments. When in doubt, it’s nice to read what other people think.
Shipping Costs & Returns
Joann.com offers four different shipping methods: standard ground 5-9 business days, priority ground UPS 4-7 business days, 2-day express, overnight delivery. Just because a visitor requests overnight delivery does not mean they will receive the package the next day. Joann.com states they need processing time, so an overnight order will actually take 2-3 days to deliver.
Shipping charges are calculated by the dollar amount spent. For instance, for the cheapest shipping method, the charges are as follows:
$1.00 - $9.99 – $4.95 shipping
$10.00 - $19.99 – $5.95 shipping
$20.00 - $59.99 – $7.95 shipping
$60.00 - $99.99 – $9.95 shipping
$100.00 - $199.99 – $12.95 shipping
$200.00 - $249.99 – $14.95 shipping
$250.00 and up – $15.95 shipping
Joann.com has an Order History area on their website for registered members so that packages can be tracked. You can also phone the toll free number with inquires. I have never had to return or exchange merchandise. However, you must return merchandise to Joann.com and not to a retail store. Returns must be made within 30 days for a full product refund.
It is not necessary to register at the website in order to make a purchase. Like most online websites, Joann.com leads the buyer through a series of screens asking for shipping and payment information. They accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express credit cards. You can also use their toll-free telephone number to place the order via phone.
Click the “Projects & Advice” button and view pages of free patterns and projects.
The categories include: general crafts, scrapbooking, decorative painting, rubber stamping, kids crafts, yarn & stitch, holidays. Some of the craft projects are: making memory books, picture frames, wooden tops, candle holders, crochet scarf, knitted afghan.
The categories include: sewing, quilting, holidays. Some of the fabric projects are: gift bags, fabric photo transfer, pillows, quilts.
The categories include: home accents and holidays. Some of the decor projects are: pillows, wreaths, candles, hat box.
The categories include: floral and holidays. Some of the floral projects are: gift tree, flower arrangements, hostess basket, door swag, ornaments.
I enjoy the Bulletin Board feature at Joann.com. This is a great way to share information with other sewers and crafters. Click on the “Bulletin Board” button. This opens a page that is broken into different categories: crafts, floral, decor, fabric. Click on one of these topic areas to open another screen that lists more specific topics. For instance, click on “Fabric” and these are some of the topcis available: patriotic, prom, show & tell, sewing machines, quilting, fabric, fleece, sewing, holidays, patterns, bridal. Enter any of these topics and read messages that people have posted, or write a message of your own. You can register if you like, or remain an anonymous user.
My Online Buying Experience
I tried for two days in November to order from their website. I added items to my Shopping Cart, went to Checkout, and all but the last item added to the cart disappeared. The first day I figured the site was having problems. It happens. But the problem continued for the two days I tried to place an order. Every time I’ve visited the Joann.com website I’ve experienced difficulties with slow loading pages, their sluggish search feature, and at times the site boots me out. One time I was in the middle of viewing their website and had to leave the room (expecting I would return in a minute) ... well the minute lasted for an hour. I returned to the website and when I tried to do another product search, a website page popped up announcing that I had not browsed their site for an hour and had been disconnected. I tried logging back into the site without success. I even rebooted the computer, and the site still wouldn’t let me browse their pages, insisting I had not browsed for an hour and was not allowed admittance. I finally ignored their website for about 15 minutes and returned and was allowed entrance.
Anyway, back to the order I couldn’t place online. Jo-Ann’s offers a “Contact Us” link that displayed a toll-free phone number. With my gift list in hand (with item numbers I had retrieved from the website), I phoned and spoke with a helpful woman who was alarmed their website wouldn’t allow me to checkout. She took my order via telephone and even gave me the shipping discount promised on the website. She also assured me that all items were in stock.
The order arrived in a timely fashion. The items were thrown into a box and not well packed. When I tilted the box, it rattled as the merchandise shifted. And not all of the merchandise was included. I had ordered a variety of sewing notions as gifts for sewing friends. Included in my order were two Olfa Rotary Cutters, and I also ordered replacement blades with them. Jo-Ann’s had sent the replacement blades but no Rotary Cutters. What good are the blades without the cutters? Apparently the cutters were out of stock. Jo-Ann’s did not bill me for the out-of-stock items and did not place them on backorder. In order to obtain the Rotary Cutters, I had to drive to my local Jo-Ann’s store (a trip I had tried to avoid by ordering from their website).
UPDATE -- August 21, 2009
This year I have placed several orders online for items that the store did not carry. I was pleasantly surprised at the ease of ordering, accuracy of order fulfillment, and fast shipping time. Based on my happy ordering experiences this year, I am changing my rating of this online store from "below average" to "average". Whenever possible, though, I still prefer to visit my local brick-and-mortar store.
I hope you found this review useful.
Enjoy your day,
Please read my other reviews:
Keepsake Quilting Store
Bernina 1260 Quilter's Platinum Edition Sewing Machine
Janome Jem Sewing Machine
Quilter's Dream Sewing Table
Horn of America Sewing Chair
Omnigrid Ruler 4" x 4"
Fiskars Acrylic Ruler - 6" x 24"
Rotaing Olfa Self-Healing Rotary Cutting Mat
Olfa 45mm Rotary Cutter
Mettler Metrosene Plus Thread
Fiskar’s Pinking Shears
Copyright 2004 Dawn L. Stewart
What product did you purchase or try to purchase? Sewing & Quilting Notions