As you can guess, online shopping sales have hit record numbers over the last few months, but how are you feeling about the idea of buying furniture without seeing it in the flesh first?
Buying groceries online is one thing but shopping for furniture is a whole other animal. Personally, I’m a touchy, feely kind of person so I’ve been stepping outside my comfort zone a lot lately!
I recently made the plunge to purchase patio furniture and decor for our deck and for the first time in my career of sourcing and buying furniture, in particular seating, the process was 100% online. The good news is we ended up with a beautiful set that was just the quality and design I was looking for, but the selection process took more reading, research and planning skills than I think I’ve ever used! I wanted to share the story in hopes it can help make your purchasing a little easier and give you more confidence to hit that ‘Place Order’ button!
Here Are Our Top 5 Tips For Online Furniture Shopping With Ease:
Comfy clothes, snacks, calming music, extreme patience, and a lot of laptop battery life are needed to carry out the next 5 tips! 🙂
1. CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
It might sound like a pretty obvious suggestion but reading the reviews, on both the company and the product itself or asking a friend or family member if they’ve shopped there before, is such a key factor in the decision making process. In cases where the reviews are a mixed bag of 3 to 5 stars, but you’ve found the perfect piece, we say take the risk. Chances are the lower reviews are personal preference.
2. CONSTRUCTION & ASSEMBLY
Look for items with ‘little or no assembly required’ (where the budgets allows) and it usually comes with ‘White Glove Delivery Service’. When items arrive fully assembled, the construction and longevity of the product is a higher standard as they’ve been glued/screwed/welded together by skilled trades.
Seating is probably the hardest item to buy online, as you can’t physically sit in it to make sure it suits your preference of comfort. Some like firm, soft or somewhere in the middle. Always download the specification sheet to check the seat cushion filling and frame construction and whenever possible order fabric samples before purchasing.
The filling, frame and grade of fabric depict the price point. Typically the higher priced chairs and sofas will have a better quality wood frame construction and goose down cushion fill. The base of any seat cushion is a foam core and it’s the quality of the foam and the thin wrapping around the foam core, that changes the comfort and longevity of the cushion. Similar to a regular mattress vs. mattress with a pillow top. For sofas and chairs that will get a lot of use, always try to look for a high-resillicency foam core.
A few questions to ask yourself to help you choose are:
- How long do I expect to have this sofa/chair? 1-3 years – lower price point or 8 + years – invest in good quality
- Do I like firm – foam core only or with a fibre wrap or soft – foam core with a fibre, feather and down wrap
- Is this for a formal or relaxed setting? The more feather fill, the softer the seat and the more ‘sagging’ you will see in the fabric over time (i.e. bottom imprints), but they make for a comfortable seat so would suit a relaxed setting.
For wood furniture, again, double check the specifications to make sure that the wood type is what you’re looking for. Sometimes the photo can be misleading. Check if it’s a solid wood or wood veneer (particle board centre with a plastic coated wood effect). They both have their positives and negatives. To help you decide, consider the amount of daily use the piece will get and style preference for the overall look you’re trying to create.
4. VIRTUAL SPACE PLANNING
Augmented Realty Apps are on the rise for both Android and iOS. The Apple ARKit can be installed on your iOS device and some stores such as Wayfair, Pottery Barn, Urban Barn, Anthropologie are using this technology too to help buyers select the perfect pieces. Another way to make double sure a piece will fit nicely in your space, is to tape it out on the floor or wall to double check the measurements and help you visualize the scale in the room. If you have any green painters tape at home, I recommend using this as it won’t damage your floor or wall.
5. SUPPORT LOCAL & RETURNS
Stay local where possible or where furniture companies have a physical store front location. Not only will you support businesses in your community but it can make returns easier and less costly. Look for a minimum 15 day return policy to give you a chance to decide and always read the fine print of the terms for restocking and return shipping fees.