Buying Electronics this Season
By David Dorf on Nov 16, 2008
On a recent business trip, I picked up the latest issue of Consumer Reports, which was focused on electronics. On page 26 they rate electronics stores, both e-commerce and walk-in. For the online stores, It appears that selection is most important with price being second. But in physical stores customer service is most important, with shopping ease and checkout being next. I guess that makes sense. Online retailers have access to greater selection since they're not stocking hundreds of stores. And they can keep their prices lower without the store overhead. But when people take the time to visit a store, they want a smooth experience, which almost always starts with good customer service.
Another observation is that Costco does well both online and in-store. That's a little odd since their selection is poor and their customer service is basically non-existent. But I guess people have lowered their exceptions in favor of price. And since they are getting what they expect, they rate the experience highly.
This also holds true for Apple, where I believe they strive to exceed expectations. When you visit an Apple store, you know your selection will be limited and you know you're going to pay top tier. But the customer service and checkout experience, which is typically via a handheld device, make up the difference. Tell me what I need to know, then get me the product quickly!
[Image removed. See http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/money/resource-center/shopping-guide/shop-online.htm]