The store began in a small Logan Square location with three employees. Now, it is one of the largest single-store appliance and electronics wholesale companies in the United States. Today, the store carries tons of items and staffs over 1,100 employees. Most notably, ABT carries tens of thousands of products. The product categories include kitchen appliances and even gourmet cooking; entertainment (audio and TV), watches, and fitness. ABT regularly introduces many products that eventually gain widespread recognition. ABT has a 100,000 foot showroom, as well as its own mini-mall. They also have a 7,500-gallon aquarium that demonstrates the stores camera and camcorder selection. 

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The Good

  • Great customer service
  • Diverse item directory
  • Green program

We felt that ABT was a great company, and their great reputation as a company has its roots in their Chicago location. The company, as mentioned above, was founded in a small location in the Logan Square neighborhood. Many items have free shipping available, and if an item is purchased and delivered in Chicagoland, the cost of shipping is always free. The customer support nexus of the website is robust and complete. The sales team all has bios on the website, and each of these sales specialists are experts on a particular product category with ABT.

Also, ABT has a wide array of products available in a diverse and eclectic item directory. We found more than 40 Apple computers available, some of which were customized from the description on the Apple Store's website.

We liked the extensive array of buyer's guides available for each product. This was something we yearned for when reviewing other online electronics stores, such as Newegg and Tiger Direct. The laptop-buying guide was particularly useful. We liked how it provided tech specs for each type of computer user, describing the needed processor, RAM, and storage for students, the general computer user, and the gamer. The guides contained a video that demonstrated the concepts presented in the buying guide.

ABT also does a pretty good job of providing gift categories for different types of situations. The "Gifts for Him" and "Gifts for Her" areas of the product directory took some of the site's most popular products and provided helpful gift giving ideas.

We also liked the extensive number of home products that were available. We saw everything from kitchen appliances, to power tools, and HVAC products. We found power generators for emergencies and sump pumps for basements.

ABT also has an extensive "green program," aimed at keeping energy usage efficient. There are solutions at all level of business. Customers that frequent store locations in Chicago will notice that if they drive and electric car, they can charge at the store with a system called Charge Point. All in all, ABT offers quality products, robust support, and a great customer experience, both online and at its stores.

While many customers shop online for the convenience, there are some benefits to having a storefront. There are several classes that ABT offers on the products that they sell. The classes that ABT offers include the following:

  • How to Use Your Mac
  • How to Use Your iPad
  • How to Use Your Digital Camera (Basic and Advanced).

The Bad

  • Free delivery to limited location
  • Tracking tool

ABT offers free deliveries to the Chicagoland area for all its products. However, we found that the delivery time map was somewhat problematic. Generally, a customer on the West Coast can get an item within 5 days, with the lowest tier shipping service selected. However, with other companies, we found that customers could upgrade to a faster shipping service level affordably. Faster shipping procedures might help customers on the West Coast get the products and services that they need quicker.
One small issue that we found with shipping fell under the appliance categories. Certain items, such as washing machines, dryers, and other household appliances, may be shipped directly from the manufacturer. This makes the tracking tool on the website not very useful. A customer will have to read an email regarding the approximate time that their large appliance is supposed to be shipped directly from the manufacturer.

The Bottom Line

Here is what we liked about ABT that led us to recommend them as the premiere electronics and appliances store:

  • Their extensive customer service base, staffed with experts, and the "how to buy" guides that are offered on their website. They also offer classes on some products.
  • The high number of models, such as the 40 different versions of MacBooks, offered on their website.
  • The number of awards that they receive consistently every year for customer service and business practices.
  • Their green program and electric car charging outlets in their store locations.

The negatives of ABT include their slower shipping times to states on the West Coast and the bulk of their complaint volume under the "products/service" complaint category.

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