I’ve been an Amazon Prime member for years. I like Amazon. I buy plenty of items from Amazon monthly.
Recently, we needed a new iPad. The old one finally bought it; it stopped charging. It was several years old and had logged a ton of hours.
I’ve bought electronics on Amazon and while I like Amazon, I’m not a fan of buying electronics on Amazon. Search results are all over the place. More importantly, I never know whether something is refurbished or new. I know Amazon sets it out but it’s not so clear. I do not like buying refurbished.
So for this iPad purchase, I decided to head over to BestBuy.com and check out the inventory, pricing and buying experience. Within seconds I preferred the Best Buy site to Amazon for electronics. Within 20 minutes, I had placed my order. 5 days later we had our snazzy new iPad delivered to our house. The entire process was fantastic. Going forward I will only buy electronics from Best Buy.
I should say this iPad wasn’t the first thing I’ve bought from Best Buy. I bought a 65″ TV, Nintendo Switch, earbuds and a host of other electronics (both in-store and online). But it was this recent iPad purchase that hammered home to me that Best Buy’s website is superior to Amazon for buying electronics. Here are the reasons why the Best Buy experience was so much better than Amazon.
Search results for electronics
When I input “iPad” in Best Buy’s online search field, it generated a convenient, easy-to-navigate set of subcategories breaking down my iPad options. I knew I wanted an iPad Air, so that’s what I selected. Check it out:
Winner: Best Buy
Clear Product Listings
Once I clicked into iPad Air category, I was presented with a good list of iPad Air options. I could instantly distinguish the 4th and 5th generations since it’s listed in the titles. In fact, the titles are formatted consistently so it’s easy to find the option I wanted which was a 5th generation with 256GB space which I quickly found.
Once I clicked on the precise model I wanted, I was able to choose a color. Since it’s for my 10-year-old, color was somewhat important.
Winner: Best Buy
Product Page Information
The product pages on Best Buy are infinitely more helpful than Amazon. There are plenty of specifications and details about every item. I can quickly determine whether it’s available for shipping or sold out. There are many high-quality product photos.
What’s important here is that every iPad write-up is similar. It’s easy to compare apples to apples. I find on Amazon, product titles and product write-ups are inconsistent so it’s very difficult to compare.
Winner: Best Buy
Customer support – live chat
So far so good. I’m loving Best Buy. I did have a question about whether using a SIM card. I noticed that Best Buy’s website offered live chat. I love live chat much more than phone support. I fired up the live chat and within minutes I was live chatting with a human being. 4 minutes later all my questions were answered. I was confident about which iPad Air to buy and so I bought it. Look for the following on Best Buy to launch live chat:
Amazon does not offer live chat; at least none that I could find. Generally, Amazon support is lacking which is perfectly fine when buying household staples but not so good when buying technical products such as electronics.
Winner: Best Buy (by a landslide)
I’ve set up accounts with payment options with both Amazon and Best Buy. Both are excellent and make checking out convenient. It’s always a hassle setting up a new account but once it’s done for any store I buy repeatedly from, it’s super convenient, especially when shopping on my phone.
Best Buy does not charge for an account. Amazon does charge for Prime which is fine and I’ve read that Prime members tend to spend lot more on Amazon. However, I’m not loyal to Amazon just because I’m a Prime member.
Admittedly, Amazon’s shipping is better / faster than Best Buy given I’m a Prime member. I did check out iPads on Amazon and if available, it would arrive faster than Best Buy. However, I bought from Best Buy because of the support I received via live chat. I’m loyal that way. I will happily pay more and wait a couple days if a retailer provides me good customer support and service.
Both Amazon and Best Buy offer 30 day return policies. That’s quite good. I only return when it doesn’t work or I can’t possibly use it so I know pretty fast if I need to return; well ahead of the 30 day deadline.
Because there are physical Best Buy locations near me, returns are easier. I’ve returned items with Amazon and it’s a hassle. I often don’t bother just because of the time it takes. With Best Buy, while still a hassle, I usually tie in the visit with some other errands so it’s not a total waste of time.
My hunch is that Amazon is a tad cheaper generally than Best Buy. I’ve not compared every product though. But for the 5th generation iPad Air with 256 GB, Amazon’s price was $939.99 and Best Buy’s price was $949.99. I bought from Best Buy anyway because of the excellent live chat customer service. The live chat service and better website was worth $10 to me.
Winner: Probably Amazon more often than not
Customer reviews and ratings
One of Amazon’s strengths in online retail is the customer reviews and ratings. We’ve all used them. We’ve all bought products based on them. I certainly have and they can be very, very helpful. They can also be misleading despite Amazon’s efforts to get rid of fake reviews. Overall though, Amazon’s customer reviews are more helpful than not.
Best Buy has customer reviews but not that many so it’s not terribly helpful. I don’t bother reading them. In the case of the iPad Air purchase, I knew what I wanted. We like iPads. We’ve had them for years. I had no reason to believe we shouldn’t get another one.
What’s better… Amazon or Best Buy?
IMO, buying electronics online from Best Buy is a better experience than Amazon. Going forward, Best Buy will be my go-to electronics purchasing website and only if they are out of stock for what I need, will I head over to Amazon and muddle through their offerings.