As someone who regularly buys furniture, both for myself and for clients, I’ve done my fair share of traipsing round the stores for hours on end – and surfing the web for hours on end too!
When some people think about furniture shopping, they immediately think of the lost afternoons spent wandering around showrooms, especially IKEA-style mazes you can’t navigate in less than 12 hours. They dread looking at one piece of furniture after another, after another, all seemingly blurring into one, over the cries of bored children and mall music. And that’s before you’ve waited in line to see if it’s even in stock or attempted to get it into the car.
Internet shopping, on the other hand, has come on leaps and bounds over the last decade. It’s now considered to be reliable enough to use for every day purchases like groceries, so it’s no surprise that many people are now turning to the net to get their large furniture items too. In 2011, online sales figures for furniture and bedding grew 5.8% to $6.8 billion, even in this recovering economic environment.
Let’s look at some of the ways in which buying furniture has been transformed thanks to the internet…
In these austere times, price is everything. Many online furniture stores know this and can offer lower-priced furniture than their high street counterparts because they don’t have to worry about the costs of running a store, and these discounts are passed onto the customer. A quick price comparison check online confirms this and thus we have another advantage; price comparison sites can, with a click of a button, give you the best deal out there, so never again will you spend $2000 on a sofa only to find it cheaper just down the road.
The thing that is off-putting for some about buying furniture online is the fact that you cannot touch or test it before you buy – you have to go by the picture and hope it’ll work in your house. All too often people complain with online purchases that they “don’t look like the picture” but online sellers are trying to address this issue with advanced technology. Many reputable online furniture sellers now offer 360° images of products for customers to scrutinize before they buy. Plus, there is always the advantage of being able to read their customer reviews beforehand.
When buying furniture especially, there is a lot of fuss that comes with the job at hand. You need to take down the measurements of the space you have to fill, load up the car, find a parking space, find the item and then pray that it fits in your trunk – or pay to hire a van. There are so many things to think about, so who doesn’t enjoy the ease of buying something online from the comfort of your own sofa? Many places offer next day delivery furniture services that are either free when you spend over a set amount, or are certainly reasonably priced for the convenience of having it delivered by professionals. Some online furniture dealers will even assemble the furniture for you for a small (but if you’re anything like my husband at DIY, necessary) fee.
Good customer service is another advantage to buying furniture from online companies. Because they expect a certain amount of returns due to the nature of the product they’re selling, online furniture dealers will almost always have a customer service line or email that you can contact with any queries. Unless it’s something bespoke or made to order, they will also often have an allotted time frame in which you can return the items for a refund, if needed. So the only thing customers have to worry about is if their purchases are safe and secure!
What experiences have you had buying furniture online or offline? Which would you recommend? Share in comments below.