Buying furniture online can be a daunting task. From furniture that looks fantastic online but doesn’t match your home’s décor to items that are just too big for your home, it’s easy to let small mistakes lead to big problems once an item arrives.
Unlike clothing, which is easy to return if it’s the wrong size or colour, furniture is big, heavy and bulky, making it far from convenient to repackage a new sofa to ship back to its retailer.
Luckily, the process of buying furniture can be made much easier by following a few simple rules. With the right plan, you can make the most of the great deals available online without dealing with any of the downsides of online shopping.
Are you searching for a new sofa, armchair, dining table, desk or bed online? Use the six tips below to ensure the furniture you buy is built to last, supported with a good return policy, styled to match your décor and perfectly sized for your home.
SEARCH FOR REVIEWS BEFORE YOU CHOOSE A MERCHANT
Buying furniture online is usually a simple process, but fulfilling an order for some items can be surprisingly time consuming. Many furniture merchants are actually just middlemen connecting you, the buyer, with a manufacturer.
As a result of this, placing an order could mean waiting for several weeks for your items to be manufactured and shipped. It could also mean having limited options if you ever need to return your furniture or exchange one item for another.
Before you choose a merchant to buy furniture from, search for review and try to learn more about their business. Are they a furniture company or just a shop that sells other companies’ products?
Searching for reviews also lets you quickly learn about a company’s policies and attitude towards customer service. This makes it easier to avoid companies that have bad business practices or take a long time to ship customer orders.
CHECK THAT YOUR RETAILER OFFERS A GOOD RETURN POLICY
Buying furniture online is not like buying DVDs or clothing – if something isn’t as you expected, the process of shipping back a heavy sofa can be quite challenging and, if the retailer has a bad return policy, surprisingly expensive.
Before you buy any large furniture online, check that the retailer offers a fair and customer-focused return policy. Can they pick up furniture you aren’t happy with from your home or will you need to repackage it and ship it yourself?
How long do you have to return items? Good retailers typically offer a reasonable amount of time for you to unpack, assemble and judge the quality of your furniture before making a decision to keep it or return it.
It’s far from uncommon for items to feel different in your living room or bedroom than you expected them to, making an honest and customer-focused return policy one of the first things you should look for in an online furniture retailer.
Bought a piece of furniture online, waited almost two months, can't get a return call, complete scam :-( the darkside of e-commerce— jimhoefflin (@jimhoefflin) 25 January 2011
How big is your living room? Can your bedroom fit a double or queen-sized bed? It’s easy to become a little too ambitious when you’re shopping online for furniture and order something that’s just too large for your home.
It’s also surprisingly easy to underestimate the amount of space you have available in your home and order furniture that, while stylish and comfortable, isn’t the right size for your spacious living room or bedroom.
Before you shop for furniture online, measure the space you’re decorating to work out which items are appropriate. You can even use tape to mark the space on your floor and get a feel for how large a sofa, armchair or table is before you buy it.
Make sure you pay attention to the height of furniture, not just the length and width of an item. This is particularly important if you’re shopping for furniture to match an existing item in your home, such as side tables for a bedframe or sofa.
CHECK THE MATERIALS USED IN TABLES, SOFAS AND OTHER ITEMS
There are lots of fantastic deals for cheap furniture available online, but many cheap retailers make a lot of sacrifices in materials and workmanship to offer products at a cheaper price than their competitors.
If you’re price shopping and comparing similar items to see which provides the best value for money, make sure you compare materials as well as things like the size of an item and its design.
Risk of buying furniture online and assuming the end table is for normal size human beings. pic.twitter.com/lMTG7LhLK0
— Hilary Sargent (@lilsarg) June 28, 2014
Many low-cost furniture retailers use cheap textiles to cut costs, as well as glued or stapled joints. Features such as dovetail joints and high quality woods are usually signs that a retailer cares more about quality than cutting production costs.
There’s no substitute for quality, and buying cheap could cost you more in the long term than it saves you today. Instead of judging products solely on their price, look at signs of quality to make sure you aren’t buying something that will break easily.
CHOOSE A MERCHANT THAT HAS A SECURE AND SAFE WEBSITE
Online security is one of the most important things to keep in mind when you shop for anything on the Internet, and furniture is no exception. It’s important that you keep your credit card and identity safe whenever you shop online.
Before you enter any of your personal information into a retailer’s website, check that their website is secure. You can confirm that a website is secure by viewing its favicon in your web browser – if it shows a padlock, the website is safe.
Note that some websites only use secure browsing on their checkout. If a website displays the padlock beside its URL on any pages that request personal details, it’s safe and secure.
Other signs of a safe website to look for are a PayPal checkout, which protects your credit card information, and certification seals from companies like Norton, McAfee and Trustpilot.
AVOID BUYING FROM RETAILERS BASED OUTSIDE YOUR COUNTRY
When you use price comparison websites, it’s easy to stumble onto great deals for furniture from overseas companies. These companies are often drop-shippers – a type of middleman business that sells furniture right from the manufacturer.
While these companies almost always offer the cheapest prices, they usually ship products directly from factories in countries like China, meaning you face serious issues returning furniture if it’s defective or unsuitable for your home.
You also face a serious risk of paying import duties on furniture, making the cheap deal you found online an expensive purchase. Many of these website also specialise in “replica” furniture – items made to look like brand name sofas and tables.
For the most part, it’s best to avoid buying furniture from retailers based outside of your country unless you’re completely confident in the brand, aware of its overseas return policy and confident that the items you’re ordering are of a high standard.
BROWSE OUR SELECTION OF HIGH QUALITY FURNITURE ONLINE
Are you searching for new living room, dining room or bedroom furniture? Browse our extensive selection of high quality items online and benefit from home delivery, one of the UK’s best return policies and our fantastic price promise.