By Patrick Avenell

Harvey Norman yesterday took its long-awaited e-plunge, launching online sales after years of mumbling and grumbling about multichannel retailing. Today on, we look at all the major (and some of the smaller) retailers to find out what they are offering online.

Harvey Norman
Online selling since November 2011
Model: Delivery and in-store pick-up
Delivery Cost: Major Centres $49; Up to $199 for remote areas.

For appliances and consumer electronics, Harvey Norman quotes prices at or lower than RRP. It’s currently offering the 64GB iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G for $783, considerably cheaper than Apple’s $949. In floorcare, the Dyson DC29 is $598 at Harvey Norman, much less than Dyson’s $679 price tag.

Other categories are less distinct, with Harvey Norman not pricing all of its furniture range, instead asking consumers to contact them for a price. To do this one needs to fill out an online form, which a determined online customer would most likely skip in favour of another website.

Betta Electrical
Online selling since June 2011
Model: Delivery and in-store pick-up
Delivery Cost: Prices vary based on location, with customers contacted post-sale to learn cost. Set prices within 200km of store. Betta is currently offering free delivery to qualifying customers.

One of the clunkiest check-out ordeals in this survey, it takes a lot of clicks to find out how much delivery will cost — even to find out that it’s free. The post-purchase delivery cost system is very bizarre, with the need to actually speak to a salesperson defeating the purpose of buying online.

Once you’ve set your local store on the website, you then receive special deals only available at that store. For example, at the North Sydney Betta Electrical, you can get the Omega Altise Airpod (APOD10) for $699. Its RRP is $699.

The Good Guys
Online selling since November 2010
Model: Originally just click/collect, delivery was added in April 2011.
Delivery Cost: $10 for very smalls; $20 for smalls; $40 for TVs; $50 for large appliances.

The definitive delivery cost structure is a massive bonus, with consumers knowing exactly how much to pay. The original click/collect was a bit of revelation, and is one feature that has been adopted almost industry-wide.

Rather than purchasing from a centralised entity, users have to select which individual franchise will process their purchase, with prices fluctuating between stores. For example the Dyson Air Multiplier AM02 was $498 at Artarmon in Sydney and $554 at Darwin. The RRP is $599 so both still represent a decent saving.

JB Hi-Fi
Online selling since 2005
Grey importing since November 2011
Model: Delivery and in-store pick-up
Delivery Cost: Free on all products we surveyed

JB has been a real pioneer in Clicks and Mortar retailing, being one of the first to sell online and one of the first to grey import products to undercut rivals. Although its website looks like one of the internet’s first, it is packed with products and offers (just like a JB store), and also includes some handy tips for how to choose the best product for your needs.

Free delivery is a massive bonus, though not all products are available for purchase online. For pick-up in-store, JB has a handy widget that allows users to see which stores currently have the requested product in stock.

Appliances Online & BigBrownBox (Winning Appliances)
URL: &
Online selling since October 2005 (Appliances Online) & November 2008 (BBB, launched by The Thorn Group)
Model: Delivery and pick-up from warehouse.
Delivery Cost: Free to 99 per cent of Australia. Cash on delivery is offered for consumers not wanting to pay online.

John Winning the Younger has done an amazing job transferring the premium brand proposition of Winning Appliances’ showrooms into Appliances Online. Online savings range from $10 on a Haier Front Load Washing Machine (HWM1070KFL) to $652 on a Bosch Front Loader (WAS32440AU).

Free delivery and cash on delivery are fantastic options. Also excellent is the clear publishing of how much the consumer is saving (by dollar amount and percentage) on products compared to the RRP.

BigBrownBox was picked up as a sister site from The Thorn Group (owners of Radio Rentals) in late 2010, giving Appliances Online a foothold into the consumer electronics categories. Together, these two sites are the Manchester United of clicks and mortar.

Bing Lee
Online selling since mid-2010
Model: Delivery and in-store pick-up
Delivery Cost: Two options are available: regular and express. Price varies depending on product and location. For the same digital camera: central Sydney was $9.23 and $12.98, while central Hobart was $21.89 and $70.68.

Bing Lee offers a wide variety of products and nationwide service, but its focus is clearly on Sydney, with non-NSW delivery costs making the online exercise virtually pointless. At Bing Lee retail stores, everything is negotiable, and the same goes with online, with browsers invited to call a phone number or engage in a web chat to haggle down the go price.

All the listed prices carry an abstraction to encourage buying, such as “Scoop Purchase”, “Hot Price” and “Super Deal”, though RRPs are not furnished, so you have to do a lot of research to validate these promises. One such Hot Price is the Omega Altise Portable Air Conditioner (OAPC16), which Bing Lee is offering for $699, a considerably hot saving off the RRP of $899.

WOW Sight & Sound
Model: Delivery only
Delivery Cost: Price varies depending on product and location. For the same LCD TV: central Brisbane (WOW’s hometown) was $16.90: central Sydney was $21.20 and central Hobart was $42.

One of the least optimised sites in the survey, WOW Sight & Sound suffers from not having the retail store’s name as the URL. One of its plusses, however, is the option of purchasing CDs, Blu-ray and DVD titles and drastically reduced prices.

The choice of products isn’t particularly wide, though there are some savings to be had. For example, the Canon Powershot A1200 is $94 at WOW, compared with $109 at Canon’s own online shop.

Dick Smith
Model: Delivery and in-store pick-up
Delivery Cost: Many items are marked “Free Delivery”, while for others prices vary based on location and product. For the same DSLR camera: central Sydney was $4.95, central Hobart was $4.95 and central Darwin was $9.95.

Dick Smith has quite a formidable online presence, with blogs, videos, Facebook and Twitter all directing customers to purchase. A wide range of free delivery offers and otherwise competitive delivery pricing is attractive, as are the daily and online deals.

There’s a huge range of SKUs available for online purchase, with buying and usage guides available for all. In terms of product pricing, there are some amazing offers on Dick Smith’s home brand (such as $99 for an LED TV), and also on name brand products. For example, Dick Smith is offering a Samsung 40-inch Full HD LED TV (UA40D6000) for $899. Dick Smith advertises this as a modest $100 saving, though Samsung’s website lists the RRP as $1,599.

Online selling due to commence in early 2012
Model: As yet unknown

Retravision has not yet added the ‘Buy Now’ button to its website, instead asking browsers to “Call for $” and then “SAVE MORE IN STORE [their caps]”. When online selling does commence, it is expected that the model will be a mixture of The Good Guys’ and Betta’s, with users buying from an individual business and having delivery organised at a micro level.

All prices and details were correct at the time of writing. Please leave a comment below if you would like clarification on how certain details were determined.