The lockdowns of the last years forced Americans to spend more time at home, and this sudden domesticity inspired everything from a cooking renaissance to pet adoptions. There was an uptick in DIY renovation projects to accommodate home offices, gyms, and classrooms or revive tired interiors, and homeowners ordered supplies online to maintain social distancing.
That trend is still going strong—ordering furniture and fixtures online is a significant element of decor planning and styling, but it differs in a number of ways from brick-and-mortar shopping. Following some basic tips will better ensure you get what you expected.
Customers leave reviews when they feel strongly about a product. As a prospective buyer, both positive and negative feedback can tell you whether a product will meet your needs. Keep an eye out for any that have photos of the item the reviewer received.
Although not as common as it used to be, be wary of astroturfing or fake reviews.
This mistake is one that many online shopping rookies make, whether they're ordering furniture or wellness supplements. Retailers put up product images that make items appear larger and thus more appealing. Some buyers are too lazy to return incorrectly sized items, so it works out for the seller. They can't be accused of deceptive marketing because the product information is listed clearly below the photographs.
Be sure to read through all the info to get an idea of scale. Check the height, width, length, and weight of items and use a measuring tape to confirm what you need for your space — you'll save yourself a lot of time and frustration. If you're getting something really big, measure your stairs and doorways to ensure pieces will be able to pass through.
Employ the services of a professional decorator, if possible. Many have experience ordering accessories online and know reputable suppliers. They can also give you tailored tips for your space, such as pieces that might work together.
As a layperson, it may be hard for you to envision virtual items and whether they will work optimally in your space when combined.
Big-ticket items such as expensive sofas should be comfortable, especially in less formal rooms. Since you can't sit in it before you buy it, look for some specific measurements. The seating depth and armrests must work for those who'll most often plonk their behinds down (in other words, if you have a tall household, you don't want a short seat depth).
You'll also want to pay attention to cushion padding. Down-filled upholstery is soft but doesn't have longevity on its side. High-density foams fill superior sofas.
You can get high quality on a budget if you know what to look for in product descriptions and shop during sales. For example, dovetailed joints are durable, as are sofa frames made with kiln-dried hardwood. Furniture pieces comprising wooden dowels, metal screws, and brackets suggest solid construction, but you may want to steer clear of glue, plywood, and staples.
Stores are often happy to send potential customers fabric samples. Eyeballing a swatch can provide much-needed peace of mind because you can get a sense of color, texture, and finish.
Words matter here, too. Full-grain and top-grain leather are longer-lasting than bonded and split leather. And cotton blends are more impressive than 100% polyester.
With online demand increasing, furniture retailers have sought to make the e-commerce shopping experience more user-friendly by offering visualization tools. There are also apps like Wayfair that work with smartphone cameras and allow you to place 3D product images in your rooms to see what various pieces might look like in your space.
In recent years, with demand exceeding supply, delays have become par for the course. A retailer may list a product as available without it being in their warehouse. If you need your tables, chairs, and ottomans as soon as possible, look for products with ready-to-ship labels. These items should indicate a maximum ETA.
Are you struggling with out-of-stock labels on product listings? When you see back-order requests but need furniture pronto, it's worth scouring Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or your local equivalent. You can find treasure among the online classifieds, including antiques and brand-new items. Online auctions and estate sales are a bargain hunter's paradise.
The advice of an e-designer can come in handy here, too, to allow you to avoid red flags and get true value. Listen to your intuition if a deal from a private citizen sounds too good to be true.
Get acquainted with an online retailer's return and exchange policy. Reputable retailers simplify furniture returns, making the process less stressful. Compare prices, not just between stores, but over time so you know whether a product is really on sale or not. Inspect products on arrival. Do they meet promised descriptions?