Choosing the Right Website
However, just as there are various online sites where you can save thousands of dollars; there are also lots of poor, scam and unreliable websites you have to be wary about.
This is why the first thing you need to know if you plan to buy your furniture online is to locate the right website selling reliable and high-quality items at an affordable price. These tips can help you make the right choice.
1. Nothing impulsive
It’s most important that you don’t do any impulsive shopping. You need to do some research to ensure you buy from a website selling reliable ware that gives minimal complaints and problems later on.
2. Do your reading
You can learn a lot about the company through its About page. It's the better and safer websites that provide company details like their history, customer service and satisfaction guarantee on the page. There should also be some contact information because it’s only the reputable companies that print their contact details on the page.
3. Go through a few store reviews
It’s better and safer to read reviews found on most websites. While it’s okay for a store to have one or two bad experiences, sites with several bad reviews or a low ranking are better avoided.
You can start your research by visiting Google Product Search where users rank and review websites. They rank merchants on a one to five stars basis and submit reviews of different merchants. While stores with one or two-star ratings are better avoided, it’s better to learn more about those with three to five-star ratings by reading reviews left by others.
You can also check with the Better Business Bureau where they have a list of all the consumer complaints against different retailers on various aspects like shopping and ordering discrepancies and more. Even though you may not find all online stores listed here, you do learn a lot through the BBB.
4. The return policy
The best websites are those offering clear and flexible return policies. Customers should have enough time to make returns, at least 30 days. Some stores even offer 45 to 60 days to make a return.
Also, check the site’s re-stocking and shipping fees where the best policies have free return shipping. It can get expensive if you have to pay the return shipping costs. So stay clear from websites charging customers a re-stocking fee, have complex return procedures or don’t even let you make returns.
5. Shipping expenses
Check the store’s shipping policy which is usually mentioned in their FAQ or About pages before buying anything. Different websites use different shipping companies like FedEx quoting different shipping and handling rates.
Some may include the costs or handling fees to your order to compensate for their cheaper rates. This is why you have to check the store’s shipping and handling fees before buying anything.
There’s also the chance of stores offering free shipping, but later adding their shipping costs to the purchase price. It’s the sites quoting ‘free shipping’ but charging $100-$200 more for their furniture that usually adds shipping costs to the prices.
6. A store that matches your style
While online retailers like Amazon may offer a huge range of products in different decorating styles, there are some sites that sell only a particular style. Some sell modern and eco-friendly furniture containing minimal design elements while others may sell traditional or classic pieces.
Buying from a website selling your preferred style products leaves you with a wider range of choices to choose from. You can easily locate sites selling your preferred style by using keywords identifying it in your online searches.
7. Look for stores with a wide range of products
It’s better and quicker buying everything you need from a single store selling all you need for your home. Besides, most stores even offer discounts if you buy multiple pieces so you end up saving more money.
And if you are ardent about buying everything in the same stain or color, then it’s better to buy everything from one store. You’ll be assured they all match instead of ending up with different products in varied shades or colors.
8. Secure websites
Always buy from secure websites for a reduced chance for any identity theft. You will be able to tell if the site is secure or not when you start the checkout process. For example, check the page’s URL.
If it’s a secure site, then the URL should start with ‘https’ and not ‘HTTP’, which means that the site is secure. The presence of a lock icon somewhere at the bottom of the web page also means it’s a safe website.
Double-clicking on it gives you information about the website’s security measures. You can also find out more about the site’s security measures on their FAQ page.
And if you receive any promotional emails (You can sign up for ours at the bottom of the page!) from the site, always first ensure the email is safe and secure before clicking on any links in the email. If and when you do click on a link, check for signs indicating that you are at a secure site before buying anything.
Now that you know how to find a safe and right website for furniture shopping, keep your eyes peeled for the next post to find out more about how to choose different furniture. It’s worth spending all this time reading and finding out about online stores. This is because they don’t usually have any brick and mortar stores, and thus don’t have to bear its overheads.
This is how and why they can afford to sell their products at such excellent prices. Choosing the right furniture website ensures you make a safe, and reliable purchase and investment.
Then again, you may want to check out a few sites before making your final decision. Compare the different brands, products and rates in different websites and check the reviews and shipping costs before you make your final decision.
Have any other tips for finding a reliable site to shop for furniture online? Questions? Feel free to ask below in the comments!
This is the second part of a three-part blog post meant to show you how to safely buy furniture online. The first post covered the important process of finding the right, safe furniture website to do your shopping.
Now that you have managed to narrow down your options to a few secure sites, it is time to find out how you should select and buy your furniture.
1. Take a look at a few photos
You first have to just scroll through their website to get an idea of its layout and the types of furniture they have to offer. Once you take a look at their variety, it is time to check each online listing carefully to make your final choice.
Most of the online furniture stores exhibit pictures of their furniture. They usually have pictures showing their furniture in a decorated room, arranged the way you want to.
You are then shown links that lead you to side angles of the furniture, and perhaps more photos without any props. All this is done to make the furniture look all the more appealing, and for you to get a better idea of how they actually look.
Do not just take a look at these photos on the websites. You can usually find additional photos in other sites just by conducting searches based on the brand and name.
Take a look at various sites and pictures to get a good idea of how a specific piece of furniture may look in your home. There are even some sites that let users post their own photos along with the reviews. This can help you choose better because you get a better idea of how the pieces look in an actual home environment.
2. Go through the product descriptions
Do not just look at photos. Also, make sure that you read the descriptions. Not just scan through them; you have to actually read them thoroughly. This is important because furniture companies are really good at using the right, manipulative words in their descriptions.
They word their descriptions perfectly so that you cannot blame them if you find some fault in the furniture’s construction or durability. For example, descriptions mentioning furniture made using veneer or composite woods are generally lower in quality than furniture made using solid wood.
This is because they are built using wood pulp or some synthetic material and not solid wood. Look for any links to read the unit’s specifications. This gives you more information about the furniture’s durability, constructions and cleaning instructions.
3. Check its measurements
You also have to carefully check the measurements and their units. This is important because photos can be deceiving to the eyes. Some chairs or sofas may not fit into the spaces you assume they will fit into.
You not only have to check the width and length of the furniture, but you also have to check the room measurements. The last thing you want to happen after spending so much time and research on your furniture are buying something too big or too small for your room.
Don’t forget to measure, and check your doorways and hallways too. Remember that you have to bring your furniture into the room, which will be possible only if it fits into them. You also do not want to end up buying furniture that does not fit into the doorway!
If you are not so sure about this, it is always better to confirm and ask for a second opinion, especially if you live on the second or third floor and there is no lift to your home. Do not worry if the site does not offer any measurements. Just call up their customer support and ask them.
4. Go through customers reviews
You will notice that most furniture websites let their customers post reviews of the furniture they had bought on the website. It is okay if there are one or two bad reviews amongst them because mistakes and problems do happen.
However stay away from websites having more negative reviews than positive ones. It is usually a sign of poor quality furniture that is not built using durable materials and may not be strong in construction.
5. Check colors
Websites obviously post colored photos of their furniture. However, you have to be careful while looking at these photos. This is because sometimes the true colors can get distorted in the photos. The chances are higher in case of darker furniture which tends to look lighter in color on the websites.
The best way to gauge the color of the furniture is by taking a look at the websites on different computers. This helps because some computers tend to alter the photographs’ colors.
Reviews can also help when it comes to colors. There will be some people who have posted reviews mentioning that the furniture they had received ended up to be darker or lighter than it was in the pictures.
6. Compare different websites
Do not forget to visit a few of the secure sites you had located. There usually is a huge difference in the variety and rates of the furniture offered in different stores. Take a look to find out which site has a bigger variety to choose from, and which is more affordably priced to suit your budget. Do not just take a look at the merchandise in one website.
You will by now have picked out a few types of probable furniture you will want to buy for your home or office in these few websites. Now is the time to compare rates. There are lots of things to consider while checking rates, which is why it will all be covered in the third and final part of this three-part series on choosing online furniture. Don’t worry, you just have to wait a short while and you will know how to finally choose and buy your desired furniture based on its rates.
This is the third part of a three-part blog post on how to safely buy furniture online. The first two posts showed you how to find a secure furniture website. It’s upon reaching a safe site that you have to start looking for affordably priced furniture for your home.
Spending a little time on your research by comparing different points and their features can help you maximize your investment, and even save money on taxes and shipping costs.
1. Check rates
You first have to take a look at all the furniture on the website. Note its rates, the shipping costs, if there are any tax charges to be paid, and if you have to pay for any return shipping or restocking.
You can save a substantial amount by not paying for shipping. In fact, sometimes after all this research, you may find out that the site you had chosen charges too much for taxes and shipping. If this is the case, you will have to repeat the entire search from the beginning once again to find a site which doesn’t charge extra taxes and rates.
It’s usually retailers having brick and mortar stores that charge 5-10% as taxes for online purchases. This adds up to a substantial amount when you buy a large piece of furniture. Most sites list out their taxes in their About page or shopping cart, so check it out before buying anything.
2. Wait for holiday and clearance sales
You will find lots of sales around the holidays. So if you can afford to wait, you may as well wait till the holidays, where you will be able to save a lot. There’s even the possibility of the website putting the piece on clearance.
This is why experts suggest going shopping in January or July, where you can get the best deals. This is when most furniture manufacturers send new shipments to stores in February and August. Online retailers need space to accommodate the new shipment and so have to put all their old stock and models on sale a month earlier.
3. Look for coupons
Giving out coupons is one of the marketing techniques websites use to get people to come to their website. You also save lots of money through the special deals and discounts the site offers if you manage to get your hands on some of them.
The best way to do this is by signing up for the site’s company mailing list. Some sites send you a coupon just for signing up to the site. You’ll then receive periodical coupons and links to sales and clearance deals.
With many sites collecting coupons and special deals from online retailers, you may be lucky enough to find some coupon and promo codes if you hunt around. This way you can still take advantage of discounts if you don’t receive any deals in your inbox.
There are also some good coupon sites worth visiting like Dealcatcher and Coupon Craze. If you are lucky, there may be a coupon that will save you money. Don’t panic or worry if some coupons don’t work because of a minimum requirement or a site error. Just keep trying and soon you’ll find a coupon that works with your shopping cart.
4. Shipping options
It’s not enough to just check the product’s price. With furniture coming in various sizes, you will have to choose the appropriate shipping option for your piece of furniture. This is especially important for bulky pieces requiring special delivery and attention.
There are usually three different shipping levels for large items where is a bit expensive but does offer great services. Stores having offline outlets offer a fourth site-to-store shipping option where you can ask them to send the furniture box to the store, and you can personally pick it up when it arrives. This may take a little longer than usual, but you won’t be charged any shipping fees.
There are also stores offering free shipping deals either as a promotional tool or through the year. Just remember that though there’s free shipping, you still have to bear state tax and furniture costs.
5. Doorstep delivery
You can have the furniture delivered to your front door or the apartment building’s first floor. While this saves money, you still have to carry the piece inside. And if it's something big, you may have to hire someone to do it for you.
6. Inside delivery
In case of an inside delivery, the furniture is carried into your home. This is more expensive than front door delivery but at least you don’t have to worry about carrying the box inside. However, the delivery personnel or driver will not help you set up the furniture.
7. White gloves or complete delivery
This is a full package delivery deal where the delivery driver carries the box inside and also unpacks and sets up your furniture. Though expensive, this is a good option if you can’t assemble the untrue on your own.
Some people charge as much as $100 for a white glove delivery. You can save a little money here by having your neighbor or friend or local movers come over to help you assemble your furniture instead of paying extra for it.
8. Store pickup
There are some offline stores that let you pick up your choose furniture from the store. This is a free service where you place an online order and your product is shipped to the store nearest to you. However, based on the size and weight of the furniture, you may need to hire a truck and helpers to shift it to your home.
All this proves that you can indeed save money buying furniture online. However, it’s possible only if you spend some time on research, and not buy from the first site you visit.
You basically have to look out for scams, find a secure site, look for good deals, choose an affordable shipping option and remember to not just depend on photos to make a purchase. Check and compare rates, reviews and also look for other photos of the same product on Google.