Retailers Vary on iPad Experience

Oct 05, 2010

By George Anderson

Now that Apple is expanding distribution of the iPad beyond its stores
and website to other retailers, consumers that just have to have one of the
tablet devices are confronted with the question of where to buy it. An
article on the PadGadget website looked at two points
of distribution, Best Buy and Target, to analyze the shopping experience. Two
others, Amazon and the Apple Store, are added here.

Try Before You Buy

PadGadget gives Best Buy the edge over Target. The consumer electronics
chain has models set aside for consumers to test out while Target has its iPads
behind a locked glass case.

Apple Store offers plenty of hands-on time and had more units on display than RetailWire found
at Best Buy. There was also information available in the way of presentations
on digital monitors in the store.

Amazon is, of course, online only so the only trying that will take place is
after the purchase is made.

Ranking: Apple, Best Buy, Target, Amazon

Product Knowledge/Service

It’s hard to argue that store associates at any other
chain know more about the iPad than those working in Apple Store locations.
When product problems arise, past experience with Best Buy’s Geek Squad
tells us they are likely to perform on par with Apple, which is also excellent
in this regard. Amazon will offer plenty of information and input from previous
buyers on its site, but not enough to bridge the gap with the other two. Target
isn’t even part of this discussion.

Ranking: Apple, Best Buy, Amazon, Target


All the retailers seem to be fully stocked with all six iPad models.

Ranking: Tie — Apple, Amazon, Best Buy, Target


Obviously this is subject to change, but at the moment it appears all are offering
the iPad models at Apple’s list price. An advantage goes to Target RED cardholders,
as PadGadget pointed out, because they get a five percent discount on
all purchases made at the chain.

Ranking: Target, Apple, Amazon, Best Buy


Ultimately the decision here depends on how a consumer defines convenience.
If it is simply being able to sit down at a computer or use a mobile device,
then those offering e-commerce options get the nod. If it is having the choice
of going to a store to test a product and order there or online, then the
decision is another. To err on the side of caution, we’re going to link convenience
to more shopping options where Apple, Best Buy and Target have both online
and physical store locations. Target, however, is only selling the iPad in
stores, unlike Apple and Best Buy which also offer the iPad for purchase online.

Ranking: Apple, Best Buy, Amazon, Target


We don’t have a strong feel for this. We can support PadGadget‘s assessment
that Target is giving more space at present to accessories than Best Buy. That
is likely to change and we found plenty of choices online from all the players

Ranking: Target, Apple, Amazon, Best Buy

Discussion Questions: What criteria do you think most would-be iPad buyers
are going to use when selecting a store/website to make their purchase? Where
would you buy an iPad and why?

[Editor’s Note] Not included here as part of the evaluation is Wal-Mart
Stores. A Bloomberg Businessweek article reports that the world’s largest
retailer is likely to be selling the iPad soon.

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

8 Comments on "Retailers Vary on iPad Experience"

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Ryan Mathews
11 years 7 months ago

I’ll cast my vote for product knowledge which is another way of saying the Apple Store wins. Even as a dedicated Apple user, however, I think I’m going to take a pass on the first few versions of the iPad. There are still too many feature/function questions to get me to carry yet another device or drop one of the ones I’m already lugging around.

Janet Dorenkott
Janet Dorenkott
11 years 7 months ago

I agree with Ryan. I have very little experience with Apple. But I just bought an iPad this weekend. I went to the Apple store because I wanted the gadgets that go with it (speakers, a stand, connectors, etc). The Apple store had all the accessories and product knowledge. I talked with 3 different people before I left and felt I had great advice from each of them. They also have a class every Thursday that they told me about.

I think people who are familiar with Apple may be more inclined to feel comfortable buying it online or at Target. Best Buy would have been my second choice, but when your spending hundreds of dollars, you want to talk with people who have experience.

Dan Berthiaume
Dan Berthiaume
11 years 7 months ago

The growth of iPad’s distribution is a sign it is beginning to become a mainstream tool and not just something for die-hard tech geeks (another sign is that other providers are coming out with copycat devices, such as Samsung Galaxy). The average consumer these days is pretty much motivated by price more than customer service or product knowledge. If Wal-Mart is ever allowed to sell iPads, watch out!

Bill Emerson
Bill Emerson
11 years 7 months ago

The key determinant of where to go to get an iPad is the customer. Is the customer new to technology, a basic user, or a techie? Are they a long-time Apple customer or still in the PC world? Is the iPad going to be a replacement for a lap top on the road? What apps are they interested in?

I could go on, but you get the idea. My own sense is that given the novelty of the product, the Apple store with its terrific sales force will be the biggest winner, at least until the iPad becomes more ubiquitous.

Steve Montgomery
11 years 7 months ago

I, like Janet, have limited experience with Apple (own an iPod which I won at a trade show). I did have to go to one of their locations to resolve a minor issue and found the personnel to be as knowledgeable as everyone indicates.

I’m not sure I will ever buy an iPad for all the reasons Ryan pointed out but were I to do so, I would definitely go to a retailer where I could touch, test, etc, the actual product. I would think this would be true for many first time buyers of a brand or an item. That being said, we use Dell desktops and I know and trust the brand and have purchased all of them from their web site.

W. Frank Dell II, CMC
11 years 7 months ago

Where to buy an iPad depends on the consumer’s prior experience. Those consumers like me who have no experience with Apple products will shop at Apple or Best Buy. Those consumers with Apple computer experience are more likely to shop for price and availability, with a preference for the Apple store. iPhone users are the toss up. They purchased their Apple product from a cell phone company. They will be inclined to shop anywhere it is offered. No question the iPad is a market changer.

Ed Dennis
Ed Dennis
11 years 7 months ago

Where to buy an iPad has much to do with the retailers in your market. Many in our nation do not live near an Apple Store or even a Target. There is a lot of space in flyover country. Amazon would appear to have an advantage due to tax savings, free shipping and competitive pricing.

Ed Rosenbaum
11 years 7 months ago

I agree with Ryan. I am going to hold off buying an iPad until more apps are available, less problems to encounter and prices drop. As to the advantage, I am going with Apple. Why not? They have the product knowledge and most experience working with the iPad. First generation products are not for those of us who have no idea what to do other than make a “911” call when problems come up.


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