how to shop for furniture online photo by dttsp

Whether you are shopping for your own home or shopping for a client's home, online shopping is necessary.  Many vendors that once had brick and mortar stores are now only available online.  Unless you plan on bringing a container of furniture back from your European shopping trip, online shopping is becoming unavoidable. During one of my Ask Me Anything offers*,  I received this question from Cheryl:

"With so many websites and online retailers selling furniture and home goods, how do designers know which ones are good quality without wasting money and getting stuck with poor quality stuff?"

A certain amount of risk (and reward) is involved when you shop online.  You have to be aware of it and expect it.  You will have disappointments, there is a lot of crap out there.  The more expensive the piece the more cautious you should be.

Here are some tips to a good online shopping experience:

  • Know your vendors, have you ever heard of the manufacturer that your are buying from?  Do a little research, read reviews and make sure that you are buying from a reputable dealer.  I like rewarding vendors that have quality product and good customer service.
  • Visit markets and shows so that you can examine the product in person.  Even if the vendors don't have all the pieces, you can still get an idea of the quality.
  • Read the warranty and return information.  If it is too strict and/or the company does not stand behind its product - beware!
  • Set up realistic expectations - here is where you should listen to the old adages you get what you pay for and if it's too good to be true.  
  • If you can, ask for more photos of the exact piece you are buying so you can examine the quality closer.
  • Check and see where the piece is made.  Sometimes, though not always, you can get an idea of quality from the country of manufacture.  Unfortunately, many designer pieces are getting copied for cheap overseas.

By being cautious and informed you can improve your online furniture shopping experience.

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