OfficeMax and Staples received top billing in a Consumer Reports
Online survey of e-tailers specializing in office supplies for small
The e-Ratings division of the Yonkers, N.Y.-based research firm praised both
companies for their "large selections and helpful business services." That
earned them better scores than competitors, including FedEx, the online division of United States Postal Service and Office Depot.
Although researchers found convenient features on every site, they
particularly liked the huge selection at OfficeMax, which features more than
30,000 items. They also liked the clear navigation and easy ordering process
of Staples, which resulted in an
overall "stress-free operation," according to Consumer Report's e-Ratings division.
The other sites had niggling defects that slowed down the buying process for
researchers, the report said.
For example, researchers said they had a "tough time" setting up accounts on
the FedEx site. After a harrowing session at the keyboard, they gave up and
called FedEx's toll-free customer service center.
The United States Postal Service site was easy to use to buy stamps and
costs were unclear. In addition, researchers couldn't find a return policy
for the USPS site.
"The mailing sites were a bit harder to use," said Helen Popkin, Web
associate editor of Consumer Reports Online. "All of these sites could
improve their e-Ratings evaluations by improving their policies or usability
Consumer Reports Online picked the five sites based on their popularity in
the office supply niche. In every case, researchers browsed for products,
searched for specific items and placed an order. Sites were judged on the
clarity and quality of design, content and policies, including security,
privacy, shipping and handling, returns, and customer service.