Recently, Net-A-Porter has been receiving a wave of complaints. Bouts of orders were significantly delayed. We examine what happened to a company once known for agility in order processing and shipping.

"A company that changes hands often, is not one that seeks quality of service provided to each customer but mass market expansion and whose sole concern is the profitability of the business, which unfortunately does not include customer satisfaction of discerning audiences in matured markets."

If you don't already know what is Net-a-Porter (NAP)

Natalie Massenet started Net-a-Porter (NAP) in 2000. In 2015, Italian luxury retail ecommerce company Yoox merged with NAP to from YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP (YNAP).

Uniquely positioned in the high-growth online luxury sector, YNAP has a client base of more than 3 million high-spending customers from over 180 countries, employs nearly 5,000 people and generated revenues of almost $2.5 billion in 2017 – half of which were from mobile sales.

In 2018, with a valuation of $6 billion, YOOX NET-A-PORTER became part of Richemont Italia Holding S.p.A. one of the world’s leading luxury groups that owns a portfolio of brands such as Cartier, IWC Schaffhausen, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Van Cleef & Arpels, Chloé, Montblanc and Officine Panerai in Italy.

Federico Marchetti is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of YNAP.

How did this happen?
On July 1, I made an order with Net-a-Porter. I was very pleased with my previous order which I had placed about a week ago and it arrived lightning quick.

I was well aware that it was the sales period and there could be delays of up to 48 hours (2 days) to process it.

Seemingly nothing unusual happened then 3 days passed and my order status still read as "processing".

Detecting something unusual, I sent them an e-mail and received no response after an entire working day had gone by. After a week of silence, it was the last straw.

Since no one responded to e-mails sent to customercare@net-a-porter, the only other option was to attempt contacting them via social media - Facebook.

Poor handling of the matter.
On their Facebook page, I was surprised to see many negative reviews from other online shoppers around the world who were experiencing similar problems with their orders - delays of over a week or two on their order.

After posting what I wrote in my un-answered e-mail on their Facebook page, I received an e-mail the next day with an insincere apology and a note from one of their customer "care" staff saying "While I cannot guarantee a date of dispatch you will receive an email with the DHL air waybill once dispatched."

It was an unacceptable, if not useless reply. By this time, a week had gone by without any clue where the items paid for were.

Many customers were left clueless, high and dry as their goods were on hold (if available at all), without any notice of what was happening.

The most recent reviews of Net-a-Porter were negative. On SiteJabber and Trustpilot, some people were also experiencing unexplained order delays.

That left me and many others wondering...

What could have happened?
Yoox Net-a-Porter CEO Federico Marchetti  Photo credit: Jamie Stoker, Vogue HELLO FEDERICO, ARE YOU LOOKING THE RIGHT WAY?

According to Vogue Business magazine, "The central logistics hub for Yoox, The Outnet and the Online Flagship (Net-a-Porter) division is Interporto, a seven-building complex in Bologna where inventory is tagged, photographed, uploaded to product pages, stored and packaged — a process that can be completed in a matter of days."

The luxury e-commerce giant has eight local logistics hubs in London, New York, LA, Dubai, Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Milan.

The fulfillment of Net-a-Porter and Mr Porter in London would eventually be migrated to a site in Milan. This could be a possible reason why some customers are experiencing severe delays.

I imagined why Net-a-Porter has remained silent about the order shipment delays and some of the possible scenarios include fire at a warehouse or looting.

A more boring reason could be related to its new system implementation which wasn't fully ready or thought through or the sheer fact that they have insufficient or quality staff.

What I did to resolve the shipping delay
Left with no other way out, I had to tell them of my next step of action which I deliberated on because I really did enjoy purchasing from them before. There are few brands I am loyal to because loyalty is earned via consistent trust and quality be it in a brand - a company or an individual. NAP used to be one of the very few companies I could fully trust.

Having to post on their Facebook page again, informing them this time I would be contacting the relevant authorities which really sounded like a thinly-veiled threat, but it was not my intention. I had no choice. 

They weren't going to do anything about my order, worse still not even consider my request of providing any reasonable explanation for the delay, a priority.

My order did arrive three working days later after they responded to my statement. The items arrived brand-new and beautifully packaged with a hand-tied bow.

What Net-a-Porter Needs to Do
When dealing with a massive delay affecting a large number of customers, their public relations department needs to communicate to customers what the problem is.

They need to step forward and be honest with the situation instead of trying to hide the problem or avoid dealing with it. Basically they ignore customers and only respond when the ultimatum is served up.

Net-a-Porter's customer service needs to know giving the weakest answer is worse than a non-response.

5 Reasons Why I shop with Net-A-Porter ...and 5 Reasons Why I shop with the competitors'
Photo: Neiman Marcus Competitor NEIMAN MARCUS and many more luxury retailers are there for customers who fancy a break away from Net-a-Porter's disastrous mis-handling of customers

1) Fast shipping (Europe to Asia)
NAP is a great place to shop at - they used to process orders and ship them fast. I like to order my items halfway around the world and they ship them as quickly as possible. 

US standard shipping still takes a week or longer to be fulfilled which is a little disappointing. Neiman Marcus does better in the US shipping arena.

2) Quality packaging
They package them in beautiful gift boxes of decent, sturdy quality and it does not smell of dangerous dyes, varnish, petrochemical plastic or polyester. In contrary,  competitor Matches fashion's box is a beautiful marbled print but of late it is constructed out of really flimsy paper, nothing compared to the one they used to ship out designer coats and shoes in years ago.

As a side note, Neiman Marcus ships out US$3,000 cashmere cardigans in flimsy cling-film like bags whereas I receive dust bags for THE OUTNET items, no doubt cheap plastic but still way better packaging than cling-wrap.

3) Range of Runway and Exclusive designer items
Net-a-Porter has arguably the largest range and variety of designer brands, from accessories - bags, costume and high-end jewellery and watches to runway clothing and premium beauty brands such as Pat McGrath and Chantecaille.

They have a wider selection and designer exclusives, far more than Farfetch, although in the recent years it seems that Moda Operandi does sometimes carry more runway items.

4) Enhanced virtual shopping experience
Net-a-Porter wins hands down when it comes to previewing items before deciding to buy. It eliminates the need to "try" before buying online.

For most products, they provide an accurate video and photo representation of on a model with exact body/ item measurement so you can gauge the color, texture, height, length and width of the item before purchasing.

This makes it really easy to shop in the comfort of your home, office, on vacation or practically anywhere!

5) Tax-free and (VAT) Tax refund
EU and US taxes are excluded when purchasing online unlike many online retailers who still charge taxes when the items are exported. This means unsuspecting customers get to pay double taxes while the unscrupulous company pockets the difference.

Recently, Net-a-Porter has also committed to refunding taxes for returned items. This sets the company as a role-model for a company which believes in fair exchange and dealings with its customers.


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