Mystery shopper: Printer etail special

Currys came out on top this month for our mystery shopper
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Armed with a strict budget of £100, this month our mystery shopper goes online to seek out a printer ideal for small office/home office use. As a wide range of retailers stock printers, to make things fair, our shopper has picked the first six etail stores that appear in Google when searching for ‘printers’. Here’s how they got on…

Currys 10/10

Currys was the very first retailer to appear in Google when searching for ‘printers’, so I had high hopes for the site having a vast range of product within my budget.

The printer section was very easy to find and provided me with a handy overview of what different types were on offer. After reading that all-in-one printers are ‘ideal for small offices’, I clicked through to that section.

Straight away there were 47 results, a lot of which had money off ranging from £5 to £80. After filtering the results to show anything under £100, I was pleased to see that I still had 29 options to choose from, all of which were available for free home delivery as well as in-store collection.

One product that caught my eye was the HP Officejet 5742, which was supposed to be £149.99, but had a massive £80 discount.

Overall, the Currys website was very easy to navigate, had lots of products to choose from and some great deals of offer.

Argos 9/10

From the Argos homepage, it is not instantly clear where the printer section is. A glance under the ‘technology’ tab revealed the usual sections, but I couldn’t see one saying ‘printers’. I eventually found the printers hiding in the ‘home office’ tab under the ‘computing & phones’ section.

As expected from Argos, there was a lot to choose from. After stating my price range, I still had 50+ printers to work my way through. 

As I scanned each one, it wasn’t obvious which ones were ideal for a home office environment. After clicking for more information on a few of them I spotted a few hints in amongst the specs.

I eventually whittled my options down to either an Epson Expression Premium XP-620, which was reduced from £149.99 to £99.99, and an HP Laserjet Pro P1102 for £89.99 – although I was a little confused by the fact that the specs stated the HP printer uses 0 ink cartridges, yet comes with one ink cartridge included.

Amazon 8/10

After navigating to the printers page I was very pleased to find that Amazon separates its printers into categories, the first of which was those ‘ideal for the small office’.

“Excellent!” I thought. Although as I inspected the recommended printers, it turned out that only three of them were actually in my budget range.

All three Epson printers looked really good, but I decided to go for the Epson PrecisionCore WorkForce WF-2650WF Colour All-in-One Printer with WiFi as it was on offer for £70.58, with its previous price being £124.01 – a great discount. There were plenty in stock and it was available for free one-day delivery.

As always, Amazon was very easy to navigate around and there were plenty of pictures, specs and reviews to sift through. There were also model comparisons and a Q&A section.

Although there were lots of accessories, it’s a shame there weren’t more small office printers within my budget.

Ebuyer.com 8/10

I was very impressed with the printer section at Ebuyer.com. It had a very detailed and incredibly handy introduction describing all the different types of printers out there and what they are ideally used for.

After reading through the intro, I took Ebuyer.com’s advice that a large format printer was the one I needed and headed to that section.

Oddly, the price ranges jumped from £0-£5 to £200-£300. I soon realised that large format printers were way out of my budget and decided to look at the laser printer section instead.

Bingo! Here I found a number of suitable printers for under £100. A lot of them had money off and all were eligible for free delivery.

Settling on a Samsung M2825ND Xpress I was pleased to find that as well as specs and photographs, there was also an embedded video.

Although the printer was eligible for free shipping within five working days, the website sneakily automatically selects next day delivery, which was £11.92. 

John Lewis 7/10

The printers section of the John Lewis site features a useful buyers guide. After reading that laser printers were ideal for high-volume printing in offices, I made my way to that section.

There were only three printers within my range. One of them didn’t have any reviews yet, which put me off selecting it. The other two were a Brother HL-3140CW and a Samsung Xpress M2070W.After checking out all the specs I went for the Samsung printer as it had a special £30 discount. 

At the checkout I was presented with a few options, including free standard UK delivery as well as free John Lewis and Waitrose Click & Collect. But it actually turned out that Click & Collect wasn’t available for that particular product.

Although there weren’t many printers in my budget, the website was very easy to navigate and did have an option to pay via PayPal.

Viking 7/10

Viking is probably the least-known etailer out of this selection. But it was the sixth retail site to appear on my Google search, so I was intrigued to see how they fared against the big names. 

After noticing a large ‘top brands’ banner – which included the likes of Lexmark, HP, Epson and Canon – I knew I was in the right place for finding a printer.

Once I set the price to the £50-£100 bracket there were 19 printers to pick from. Although they were all under my £100 budget, it turns out that a handful of them were actually over once VAT was added on. 

Those that were in budget had detailed descriptions and plenty of specs. Free delivery was a nice touch, as was the ability to pay via PayPal.

Although Viking didn’t have the most amount of products to choose from – and some in the £50-£100 bracket were technically over £100 – it did have a handy feature called ‘ask an owner’, which lets users pose questions to owners of particular products.

Summary

Overall, this was an excellent mystery shop. Every site I visited had printers that were within my budget and every website offered free delivery.

I was happy to see so many of the sites accepting a number of different payment methods, including PayPal, and pleased to find that all the websites I visited had extensive product and specs/descriptions, while some even had options to submit any questions I might have.

Although sites such as John Lewis and Ebuyer.com had really helpful buyers guides, Currys and Argos could not be beaten in terms of the sheer volume of printers that were available to look through.

Although it was a close call, Currys stole the show as it was much easier to navigate through the retailer’s site than Argos’. Therefore I am declaring Currys’ etail site my star store this month.

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