updated 12:20 pm EST, Tue November 3, 2009
Consumer Reports marks electronics shops
Apple leads in brick-and-mortar retail stores but is no match for more universally oriented stores online, Consumer Reports says in its December issue (subscription needed for results). Of all major physical retailers, Apple scores the highest in a reader study. Although tied with Costco for an official 90-point score, it ranks highest through its perceived product quality, customer help and the ease of the buying process.
The Mac producer's score comes despite its consciously limited product range and Apple's typical resistance to offering sales and other special deals. It also has a below-average return window of 14 days compared to 30 or longer for some locations, including Costco.
The same charts reveal that shoppers tend to prefer the experience in smaller chains like Ultimate Electronics (also 90 points), Sony (88) and Ritz Camera (88) than in large store outlets like Best Buy (82) and Fry's (81), where the scores belie an overall below average experience for quality and service.
However, Apple is knocked entirely out of the top 15 in online stores. The field here is led by Vanns and B&H, the two of which are tied for a high 95-point score. Most of those at the top are more generic electronics retailers like Amazon, Crutchfield and Newegg, all of whom were just a point off from the top. Brand-run stores from Dell and Sony still score relatively highly at 90 points each but are significantly lower.
No explanation is given for Apple's absence from the list, but its online store is more specialized for its own products where Dell often sells many products that compete with its own or are almost entirely unrelated to its core PC business, such as game consoles. Sony only sells its own brand but also designs a much wider range of products.