Looking for electronics?
We spend most of our days attached to something electronic. There’s a smartphone in our hands, a laptop on our knees or a television right in front of us. It’s difficult to imagine life without electric-powered appliances.
Consumers spend billions of dollars on electronic equipment every year, and increasingly, much of this spend is done via online retailers. Most such retailers offer both a more varied selection and better purchase prices on electronic items than main street stores or stores you find in your local shopping mall.
We’ve selected the top ten sites at which to make consumer electronic purchases. We made three important comparisons; for price (for an iPad mini), delivery charges and each site’s returns policy – just in case your new laptop explodes as soon as you take it out of the box.
No real surprises at number one, Amazon is undoubtedly the top online retailer on the internet. Electronics is just one of Amazon’s many retail departments and superb deals can be found if you hunt long enough. We found an iPad Mini (16GB, Wi-Fi only model) on sale for $338, with free shipping. Amazon offers free shipping on orders over a certain purchase price, depending on what you are ordering. They also offer a dedicated returns surface, and will give you your money back on defective items that are returned within the first 30 days of ownership.
Apple products seem to be loved and hated in equal measure. They inspire devotion in some, and utter loathing in others. Quite bizarre for a retailer. Apple began life in 1976, founded by Steves Job and Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, and really come to prominence when they started placing the letter ‘i’ in front of all their products. The iPad Mini was available for $329 with free shipping. Shipping is generally free-to-inexpensive and you can always pick up your item from an Apple Store if you want. Faulty items must be returned within 14 days for a full refund, or 30 days in the case of the iPhone.
Target are the second-largest discount retailer in America, and was founded in 1902 as Dayton Dry Goods by George Dayton, now having close to 2,000 stores all over the USA and Canada. Their web-site has a dedicated electronics section, and we found the iPad Mini there to purchase for just 99 cents more than the Apple store, although that was before tax. Shipping was varied, but as Target stores are pretty ubiquitous, picking up by hand is probably the better option. Target has the standard 30 days for a full refund policy.
Easily established as the US’s leading retailer of consumer electronics, Best Buy offers everything from MP3 players to Plasma TVs. We found the iPad Mini on their extensive site for the ballpark figure of $329, but with free shipping. The site had a special deal in which if you combined your purchase with a personal mobile broadband device, you’d get $100 off. Best Buy offers free shipping on most items over a certain price, and then a variety of paid shipping options. Their returns policy limits you to 15 days for most items.
Newegg are, like Amazon, an online-only retailer, but they specialize in electrical items. As they are online-only Newegg usually offer great deals and items at prices lower than you find elsewhere. Having said that, we couldn’t find the iPad mini on offer for any price lower than $360, although that did include free 2-day shipping. Newegg’s returns policy seemed a little complex, as any return had to be accompanied by the purchase of a UPS label, and there was the threat of a 15% restocking deduction as well.
Walmart is the largest private employer in the world and their colorful web-site has a dedicated, online electronic retail section that offers to save you substantial amounts of cash. True to their word, we found the standard model of iPad we are using for our price comparison test for just $299, although that was if you picked it up from your local Walmart store. Their returns policy is very generous as well as you can return an item purchased from Walmart for up to 90 days after buying it.
Staples is probably the number one office supply retail store in the world, with over 2,000 stores worldwide in 26 different countries. The online version of Staples sells much more than copier paper and diaries, and has a full range of phones, home entertainment items and computers. We couldn’t run our price comparison as they didn’t sell iPads. Staples returns policy only covers you for 14 days, so beware.
8. Fry’s Electronics – www.frys.com
A real success story, Fry’s began with a single store, in 1985 in Sunnyvale, California, and had grown in 25 years to become a multi-store company employing nearly 14,000 employers all over the US. Fry’s site is attractive, speedy and visitor-friendly, and we found the standard iPad model available for $329, although it was only available for store pickup. Shipping prices are what you’d expect and returns are accepted within 30 days of the original purchase.
CostCo is one of the top ten retailers in the world, and operators on a members-only basis, providing an unparalleled selection of merchandise. The CostCo website attracts over 60 million visitors a year, all searching for a bargain, no doubt. CostCo has a neat selection of items, but do not sell iPads, so no price comparison test. Faulty items can be returned immediately to one of CostCos stores, as long as the purchase date is not older than 90 days.
10. B&H Photo Video – www.bhphotovideo.com
A store that began life in 1973 on the corner of West 34th Street and 420 Ninth avenue in Manhattan, New York. Originally just dealing in cameras, the store has expanded, mainly via its web-site, into other areas of consumer electronics. We found the iPad mini there for $329 with free shipping. Items can be returned to B&H within 30 days of purchase.