Best Places to Buy Small Appliances


A TV shopping network's website tops CR's survey-based ratings of 18 retailers

CR found impressive choices among a handful of small-appliance vendors.

By Tobie Stanger

QVC.com, website of the venerable television shopping network QVC, rules Consumer Reports’ latest ratings of small-appliance retailers. QVC.com, which sells air fryers, blenders, rice cookers, and other small appliances among its vast product inventory, receives a strong overall satisfaction score in our ratings of 18 small-appliance retailers, based on surveys of CR members.

Five other merchants—a kitchen specialty store, an online giant, a membership warehouse, a mass merchandiser, and one of the oldest names in retail—also earn that favorable overall rating. Independent appliance retailers and manufacturers’ websites, grouped in two categories, also earned overall satisfaction scores near the top range. No small-appliance retailer, however, rated in the top tier for overall satisfaction in this iteration of CR’s ratings.

QVC.com prevails in our ratings partly because of its exemplary usability as a website. The retailer also earns respectable scores for price, selection, customer service, and delivery. Some QVC customers who volunteered their opinions in our member survey were effusive.

“I got a great deal on the Keurig model I wanted,” Sharon from Georgia wrote. “It’s easy to order online,” reported Dorothea from Missouri. Don from Ohio listed “price, ease, great customer service, speed of delivery,” as QVC’s merits.

Below, CR members can read ratings and reviews of small-appliance retailers in our survey. (For some features or attributes, CR did not collect enough responses to generate ratings.) To see how sellers fare in our appliance store ratings, see our full list of 18 small-appliance retailers.

Looking for a major appliance? Read “Best Places to Buy—and Bargain for—Large Appliances.”


Which Small Appliance Stores Are Best . . . and Worst?

Sharing very good overall satisfaction scores with QVC are online behemoth Amazon; Kohl’s, the longstanding mass merchandiser; department-store icon Macy’s; and Williams Sonoma, the high-end kitchen specialty chain. Independent retailers and individual manufacturers, rated as two separate groups, also share that distinction.

Amazon and Williams Sonoma are the only retailers other than QVC to earn excellent marks for aspects of their shopping experience. Amazon generates top marks for selection, delivery, and website usability. Williams Sonoma gleans an outstanding score for its in-store atmosphere.

Two big-box stores at the bottom of our ratings serve up an overall unfavorable shopping experience. Home Depot and Lowe’s are below par for their prices, selection, and service. Home Depot’s in-store atmosphere also has been rated as substandard, while Lowe’s is middle-of-the-road. Home Depot, though, gains a respectable score for delivery.

No retailer is terrible overall in our ratings, but all three membership warehouses—BJ’s Wholesale Club, Costco, and Sam’s Club—are dinged for a dismal small-appliance selection, as is Menard’s, the home-improvement store based in the Midwest. Walmart’s customer service receives a failing grade as well.

For our most current survey, more than 20,000 CR members reported their experiences purchasing more than 30,000 major and small appliances from the beginning of 2021 through the end of August of 2022. The results are ratings of 16 small-appliance retail chains, plus individual manufacturers and independent appliance retailers as two separate groups.

Where Can You Get the Best Price for Small Appliances?

In our most recent survey, we asked Consumer Reports members about their satisfaction with a retailer’s price, selection, service, in-store atmosphere, delivery, and website usability. We generated a score for each of those attributes. We then combined the scores of all those attributes (weighing price a bit more heavily than the others) for an overall satisfaction score for each retailer.

Here are the highlights of those individual scores.
Price: No small-appliance retailer gets our top rating, but five receive favorable marks: Macy’s, Costco, Kohl’s, Sam’s Club, and QVC.com.
Selection: Amazon is a standout.
Service: No store earns the highest available score, but QVC.com, Williams Sonoma, individual manufacturers, and independent retailers/websites earn favorable ratings for this attribute.
In-store atmosphere: Williams Sonoma alone gets the highest mark.|
Delivery: Amazon earns the only top score.
Website usability: Amazon and QVC.com are outstanding.

How Can You Haggle for the Best Small-Appliance Price?

Our survey revealed that a far lower percentage of CR members tried haggling for small appliances than for large ones. Just 3 percent tried. But those who attempted to bargain for a small appliance were successful 78 percent of the time—higher than the 63 percent of successful large-appliance shoppers.

And those small-appliance hagglers saved a median of $57.

Why did most buyers hold back? Thirty-eight percent said they were already satisfied with the price, and 29 percent said their purchase was already discounted. But more than a quarter—28 percent—didn’t know they could negotiate. And 22 percent said it didn’t occur to them.

Among those who successfully bargained for their items, 32 percent simply asked for a better price. They used other winning tactics as well, including asking for a senior, veteran, or group-membership discount; using a smart device to search for a better price while in the store; mentioning a price offered by another retailer; and mentioning deals found through price-comparison tools.

And it doesn’t hurt to try these tactics while shopping online. In the past, CR has found that online shoppers who haggled were often as successful as in-store hagglers at getting a discount. 

Best Small-Appliance Retailers

QVC.com
Overall satisfaction score: 74
CR’s take: QVC began as a shopping channel on cable TV; in addition, it now has a robust shopping website. Small-appliance sales are just part of its wide array of products, which include celebrity fashions and beauty products. Our members gave it favorable ratings for price, service, selection, and delivery, and exemplary marks for website usability.

Williams Sonoma
Overall satisfaction score: 71
CR’s take: Founded in California wine country, Williams Sonoma is the only retailer in CR’s small-appliance store ratings to get our top rating for in-store atmosphere. It performs above average in selection, service, delivery, and website usability. The high-end retailer sells everything for avid cooks and those who like to entertain. Products include tableware, glassware, silverware, and small appliances from upscale brands. Its rating on price, though, was middling.

Amazon.com
Overall satisfaction score: 70
CR’s take: Our members are happy with the wide variety of Amazon’s brands and models, earning the retailing colossus top marks for selection. Amazon, based in Seattle, also gets our top score for delivery and website usability. But members gave it middling marks for price and service.

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2023, Consumer Reports, Inc.