Ben Kelly
Ben Kelly

Makro champs, Stax relegated in appliance store web site battle

Shopping for domestic appliances is the seventh circle of hell. You have to go to four or five shops to compare prices and each shop is in a different shopping centre. This means finding parking, getting out of the car, walking to the shop, trying not to get distracted by the other things in the shop, checking out the appliances and then exiting the store as rapidly as possible.

Lucky for me, my quest for a new washing machine had already yielded two leading candidates a Samsung and a LG. Both had the most important characteristic in the boss’s (my wife) view (they were metallic and not white) and they both had a quick wash setting (the most important issue in my view).

So instead of taking a day off work to go appliance shopping I called around the leading stores to check the price on these two items. To get the contact numbers for each store I had to first visit their websites

What I discovered in this task is that these stores have massively varying views on what constitutes a web site.

Leading the pack are Makro,House and Home and Hirsch’s Home Store. For a prospective buyer all appear to have full stock lists of everything they carry, or at least a substantial subset.

The Makro site give stock availability at the stores while the House and Home site allows you to shop online.

House and Home doesn’t work properly in Firefox so that counts against them. Makro seems to work well but I found a few small issues and Hirsch’s seemed to work perfectly.

Using a Mac I have neither the time nor inclination to test it on Internet Explorer but I think it is safe to assume that all the sites have been tested on something before going live.

Both Makro and House and Home offer the ability to compare products and pricing and are reasonably easy to navigate.

Out of the two the Makro site is better laid out and easier to navigate and just in a different league. The House and Home site, while not lacking in functionality needs a design overhaul to bring it up to date. It also gives unhelpful information (mostly just model numbers) in the product descriptions and looks like a site that was built to specification with little or no input from someone that understands that people actually use websites.

So top marks to Makro for their site.

I would have had to put Hirsch’s Homestore on top, if they had actually put prices on their site. The site is very well designed and easy to navigate but pricing is the best indicator of what products compete with each other and leaving this out makes the site next to useless in my view.

Bottom of the pile is Stax. It only has basic contact information for its stores and the current promotions page is MIA. To add insult to injury even though the company owns stax.co.za, the mail addresses for all its stores end in @iburst.co.za. Surely it can’t be that hard to run your own email system? Hell, if they asked nicely I would even tell them about Google Apps which would let them run their own mail system for free.

While I love Stax and have no problem with their in–store service their website needs a massive overhaul.

I also went to Pick n Pay and Game on my quest but Pick n Pay is great but food focused, and Game is not great but better than Stax so I didn’t go into depth on either of them.