November 2, 2010, 12:28 PM

For choice in consumer electronics, the web tops stores

A Consumer Reports study says e-merchants led store retailers in pricing and product selection.

Paul Demery

Managing Editor, B2B E-commerce

Lead Photo

Such online retailers as, and outscored store retailers and other web merchants in offering the best pricing and product selection of consumer electronics products, Consumer Reports says in a recent report.

“Electronics items are now as likely to be bought online as in walk-in stores,” the consumer products research and ratings organization says in the annual electronics issue of its magazine, published each December . “Web sites dominated the high-scoring retailers in our ratings of places to buy major electronics and computers.”

The report, available online at, is based on a survey of 26,000 Consumer Reporters readers between January 2009 and June 2010. It rates 12 e-commerce sites and 16 retail store chains (plus independent retailers as a group) on several factors including price, product selection, consumer service and ease of making a purchase. It also allocates to each retailer a reader score that, on a scale of 0 to 100, indicates readers’ overall satisfaction with a retailer.

The top score—95—was shared by,, and, followed by with 94. The lowest score for an online retailer, 86, went to, which scored high for product selection but poorly on customer service and ease of making a purchase.

But even with the lowest score among e-retailers, still outscored seven of the retail chains, whose lowest score was 80 by Wal-Mart Stores. The reader survey rated the Wal-Mart chain average on price and below average on selection, product quality, customer service and ease of making a purchase.

Interestingly, scored a higher overall rating at 88, but also was rated average or below average in all categories. The online sites of Costco, Apple and Best Buy also scored better overall ratings than their retail chain counterparts.

Following are the overall reader scores for the 12 online retailers in the study:

• 95

• 95 95

• 95

• 94

• 93

• 93

• 92

• 88

• 87

• 87 86


Following are the overall reader scores for the 16 retail chains, plus a group of independents, in the study:

• Independent retailers 93

• Costco 91

• Apple 89

• Ultimate Electronics 88

• Army & Air Force Exchange 88

• BJ’s Wholesale Club 87

• GameStop 87

• HHGregg 86

• Sam’s Club 86

•Target 85

• P.C. Richard &Son 85

• Staples 83

• RadioShack 83

• Best Buy 83

• Fry’s Electronics 81

• Wal-Mart 80



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