Buying online is a part of the modern day lifestyle when speed and time are of essence along with safety of self and family becoming a key priority. Everything is now available online with a plethora of e-commerce websites offering a wide range of products ranging from electronic gadgets, home appliances, groceries, apparel, books, and sports accessories; to furniture, home furnishings, etc. Furthermore these e-commerce websites provide attractive deals, discounts, a variety of brands to choose from, and many other offers and facilities.
Sometimes, attractive deals on e-commerce furniture websites can be extremely tempting, if you are setting up a new house or renovating your existing space or buying furniture.
Should We Buy Furniture Online?
We generally opt for online purchases of those products with regards to whose quality we are not worried due to the brand say – books, mobile instruments, electronic equipment et al. But nowadays everyone is living a major chunk of their life on the internet. Let alone products … in today’s era even life partners are found online! There are umpteen numbers of people living in homes that are curated and designed with the use of online platforms, but the authenticity and the entire idea of purchasing furniture online is still challenged by a certain segment.
Well it’s just a mind-set – If you can trust the right sort of apples to be delivered to your door step … then why not a nice looking chair that comes from a portal of prestige and integrity at a great price when purchased online? But yes as house furniture consists of many items and is available in a vast range of brands, do think carefully and take your time before you buy furniture online.
So for window-shoppers, people who have time at their disposal and buyers who like to touch and feel something prior to purchasing the same –physical purchase i.e. buying furniture directly from shops is perhaps a better option.
However, if time is a major constraint or if you/someone in the family is immuno-comprised and you are a tad hesitant of stepping out of your house then you can explore the option of buying furniture online so long as you are sure about the reputation of the portal and the brands it hosts.
So let’s take a quick look at some of the pluses of picking up furniture online –
Advantages of Buying Furniture Online
- Your time is saved as you do not have to physically go to the store
- Available 24X7 … no restriction of space or time
- No geographical restrictions thereby opening up a vista of furniture options
- Safe shopping as it’s contactless
- Saves on commuting cost
- Conserves labour as you are not limited by geography while selecting the furniture i.e. your choice does not get restricted to few showrooms in your town/city.
- The furniture is delivered to you, so you do not have to worry about carting that heavy bed on your own!
- Relatively cheaper rates vis-à-vis showroom purchases as it cuts down on dealer’s commission
However, there is still a stratum of buyers who would prefer to abstain from buying furniture online, as they view it as a bit risky. Buying furniture is a substantial and long term investment, and hence can be tricky if you are buying it online.
Disadvantages of Buying Furniture Online
- You cannot judge or assess the quality of the furniture (as the touch and feel element is missing) which is being delivered to you.
- Payment terms are not as flexible as compared to those offered when you buy from a shop. In the sense that most portals insist on full payment prior to delivery of furniture.
- Chances of fraud are upped if the transaction is not on a well-established and secure website.
- You cannot negotiate as normally done in a retail shop.
- You need to check in detail as e-commerce portals display those brands first which provide maximum discounts – so you need to take the trouble to scroll down and check other available options in the same segment.
Gharpedia tries to ease your online furniture purchase odyssey by providing you with some crucial tips for buying furniture online.
Tips for Buying Furniture Online
01. Selecting a Secure/Reputed Website for Buying Furniture Online
There are numerous e-commerce websites and internet retailers, which offer furniture online. You should buy furniture online only from popular, branded, reputed and secure websites. Do remember to research different websites, their history, customer reviews, et al before buying online. Always make it a point to read the “About Us” page of the website. This will help you to access useful information like owners, their purpose, their core business headquarters, etc. There is a “Contact Us” page on all websites, on which telephone numbers also are available. You may contact and gauge the response of the company personnel, and then take the decision whether to buy furniture from them or not. Beware of those portals that conceal their names, telephone numbers, postal address, grievance redressal process etc. and leave you at the mercy of a mere e-mail address.
A detailed recce will reveal that alongside many ecommerce websites which provide a platform to various manufacturers to sell their furniture; there are also many manufacturers who sell both online and offline and hence have their own websites also. It would be advisable to shop for furniture directly from the website of the manufacturer rather than via the online platform as it would be a time saver and the product varieties would also be more.
With cyber-crimes on the rise, do ensure that the website is secure so as to alleviate the risk of identity theft. You can confirm if the website is secure, by checking its URL. If the URL of the website starts with https instead of http, then it is a secure website. Avoid buying furniture from unsecured websites. Also verify whether the ecommerce portal follows a system of scrutinising the background credentials of the dealers or sellers before listing or recommending them.
Remember when you buy online; you are moving in an “online store” and it is important that you check the credibility of the store just the way you do in case of physical stores. And, some small scale companies use a virtual terminal as a mode of payment which is quite reliable and trustful.
02. Measure the Area for the Furniture Before You Buy Furniture Online
Measurements are the most crucial element when it comes to buying furniture. As you are buying online, you are not able to physically view the furniture. Hence, you cannot judge whether, it will fit in the space available with you or not. You should carefully read the dimensions of the furniture and then using a measuring tape, build a layout of the space that it will occupy in your home. In case you are opting for readily assembled furniture, then you need to also check whether proper space in doorways or stairways is available for its easy transition into your house and in the room through doors or stairs.
03. View Images from all Sides and Read the Description on the E-commerce Website
A picture provides you with a visual image of how the furniture will look like. As the websites provide rendered images, do not forget to view the alternative images of the product. The alternative images will provide the view from different angles. These images do not contain any props and hence will help you to visualize the furniture aptly. However be careful not to take a decision simply based on the images. Also do not get attracted by the images as the colour and texture may drastically differ in reality. Look for images uploaded by various customers who have already bought it. Also study the weight if given. Study materials, specifications etc. in detail and compare with those of other competitive brands.
Every website provides a short description/specification of the furniture you are viewing. It is important to read the description carefully as it provides many details about the product. If you are buying a small storage drawer for shoes, the description will provide details of whether it is made of particle board or MDF. The description should not be overlooked, because when you want to buy furniture online, you cannot and you should not just rely only on the images or the website.
04. Check the Dimensions of Your Room and Furniture
Study dimensions i.e. L, B, D (both out-to-out and waste areas) v/s dimension of your room. Check the dimensions of the furniture carefully. Don’t just blindly assume that the piece would suit the space where you want it to go; photographs can be deceptive. Make sure that you double check the dimensions for the length and width of the furniture when you measure the room.
In case the e-commerce website does not provide the measurements online then you can give a call on the customer service toll-free number and ask them to provide you with the actual measurements.
And in case you are buying work-from-home furniture say a desk/table or a chair then ascertain that you abide by the ergonomics.
05. Read Furniture Reviews Prior To Buying Online
Many reputed websites provide reviews of other customers, who have bought the furniture. Before buying furniture online, it is important to go through the reviews, as they will provide you with genuine user feedback. It can save you from a bad product or a bad service or from a bad e-commerce site. Also, do not get swayed by just one or two bad/good reviews; make a balanced decision based on multiple reviews.
06. Compare Prices before Buying Furniture Online
Very few retailers on the internet sell one-of-a-kind products. Most furniture, particularly the kind you assemble for yourself, can be found on dozens of websites. Before buying, invest time in research by searching on the portals of three to five stores that offer the piece of furniture you want. Note the cost of the product, shipping costs, taxes, and whether the shop charges for shipping or returns.
Do this to make sure that you buy from the online site with the best deal … agreed that this calls for investment of time, but trust us this diligence ultimately pays off in the long run.
07. Explore the Return Policy Prior To Buying Furniture Online
Before you buy furniture online, do check the return policy of the website. If due to some reason like – the piece of furniture does not fulfil its purpose or does not fit into your space or turns out to aesthetically different from what you’d anticipated it to be – then your money and time could get wasted in case of there not being a customer-supportive exchange or return policy. Always purchase from portals which have in place a water-tight flexible return/exchange policy; non-existent, complex or tedious exchange/return policies are a nightmare for the customer!
08. Check the Shipping Charges… If Any!
Transporting heavy furniture can be costly and most portals will not do it for free. They levy shipping charges on the furniture. Many companies may claim to provide free shipping, but a good thing to remember here would be that the price of the furniture would include those charges. Hence, compare the total price of the furniture on various websites before buying.
09. Check for Shipping Options Before Placing an Order of Your Furniture!
Check for the shipping options, the company offers. Most companies offer, three types of shipping options –
- Front Door Delivery: The product is delivered at your front door, and this is the cheapest shipping option. The onus to carry the piece of furniture inside and install it rests on you.
- Inside Delivery: The furniture is delivered and placed at the place, where you require it. Needless to say, this is more expensive than front door delivery.
- White Glove Delivery: This option includes unpacking and installing the furniture by the company personnel. It is expensive but for people who are not familiar with the installation procedure, it is the best option.
10. Ensure Adherence to COVID-19 Protocol
Ascertain that the delivery personnel abide to the SMS Protocol (maintain social distancing, wear a mask and sanitize their hands)
Additional Points to Remember…
01. Ensure that the furniture brand is an established one and that the price is reasonable.
02. Also check if there is dynamic pricing – like those of airlines and hotels where the price fluctuates with our increased search.
03. Remember in this mode of purchase you will be deprived of the opportunity to gauge the strength and sturdiness of the furniture piece.
04. Think twice before buying furniture online for your entire house.
05. Consider buying small pieces online as you may get better options and save on precious time.With these tips, buying furniture online can become a cakewalk! Not only can your time and money be saved but in the times of the pandemic it would also provide you with the comfort of shopping from the safety of your house. What is required from your end is some basic research to ensure that you clinch the best deals and discounts. However, do remember to watch out for scams and frauds. Do not rely only on the photos provided on the website. Read the description, customer reviews, return policy, etc. and think properly alongside discussing with your family members prior to taking a decision to buy the piece of furniture online.
Image Courtesy: Image 4, Image 9, Image 11, Image 12, Image 13