Buying Furniture Online: 5 Things to Consider
In recent years the shift towards buying furniture online has been nothing short of incredible. There are an array of companies offering everything from high end bespoke furniture to budget items delivered the very next day.
Buying furniture online is now so easy that we almost take for granted the ability to hunt for the perfect piece. Just think you can be sat, stood or squashed on the train and buy your perfect dining table, click and you’re done!
Now this all sounds great, and it is pretty amazing and you should definitely be taking advantage of this revolutionary shift. However if this is your first time ordering furniture online, then there are a few things to consider.
1. Will your furniture fit?
First things first, measure the space where your furniture will be placed, the very basics are Width, Height and Depth or Length depending on the item.
For items fitting into a gap, for example, a bookcase, make sure you measure the narrowest part of your space, considering skirting boards, wall rails and coving. Then measure the widest part of the furniture, if it has a plinth or cornice double check that this is included in the measurements you have been supplied.
Draw a plan. It does not have to be complicated but this can be a very worthwhile exercise. A simple and fun way is to draw out your room to scale on some squared paper (yep, the type you had in your maths book at school), then from another piece of paper cut out the basic size and shapes of your furniture (again to scale). Once you have done this you can slide things around on the paper and see how they work in the room.
If you want to get a better feel, you could make up real size templates from newspaper (stick a few sheets together for large items) which you can place on the floor in your room. This way you will understand the space and how your new furniture will fit.
Ask yourself honestly if you have enough room to walk around or will you forever be squeezing between your dining table and sideboard? If you are buying an extending dining table does it fit when you extend it? Can you open the doors of your cupboards on your sideboard? All these are example of things we can forget in the excitement of ordering our dream furniture.
Other important points to consider are access to your property and the room you plan to put your furniture in.
Will your furniture fit through the door? Most items will fit through a standard door way, but some large items like a Kitchen Island may need a wider opening or to be delivered in sections to fit. For example most large dressers will come in 2 separate parts, the top and the base. If this information is not readily available when ordering it is well worth sending an email to double check.
Will your furniture fit into your room or upstairs? This part is not always obvious, take a look at the route your furniture will have to travel to get to the room it is meant for. As an example some homes have very narrow hallways with stairs right by the living room door, this is likely to cause a problem if you were having a longer than average sofa delivered.
Again it is worth speaking with someone to check if there are options for items to be delivered in sections as this can normally solve the problem of delivering your furniture through a tight space.
2. Colours – Get a sample!
This is a nice simple one, you have found the perfect piece of furniture and it is EXACTLY the colour you want, it arrives, you open the champagne, ok, ok prosecco! You unpack it and yes, it’s EXACTLY NOT the colour you wanted. You run to your computer open your pinterest ‘dream home’ board, and the colours do not match!
Now we must be careful here because we sell ranges which come in different colours, but we will be the first to admit that colours are very hard to represent on a computer screen.
The reason is that every screen maybe set up slightly differently, even if you are a high end designer and your screen is colour calibrated the colour could still look different in real life.
The solution, request a sample of the colours you would like to chose from. Most good online furniture retailers will have this covered and be able to send out a sample of the material, paint colour or fabric you are interested in. Yes it will take a few more days before you can order, but it is worth the wait.
3. Quality (Cost vs Price)
Cheap things are seldom good and good things are seldom cheap. In other words you get what you pay for. There are some excellent manufacturers and suppliers who have helped to bring down the cost of home furnishing, however in my experience there is a limit. When you are doing your research it can be worth asking a few questions around build quality and materials used.
A great deal of retailers will rely on the customer’s lack of knowledge to help them sell a lesser quality item, the classic is the use of ‘Solid Wood’ in a product description on a website whose name suggests they sell Oak Furniture. They are doing nothing wrong but does the descriptions say Solid Oak or Solid Wood?
A good retailer will be explicit in their descriptions of materials as they are proud of what they sell. If an item of furniture you like does not have great description then drop the company a line and ask what you need to know.
Lastly, Be realistic about the price you are paying when you are buying furniture online, if you are shopping the lower end of the market the quality will be different to mid to high end.
4. Delivery – How will your furniture be delivered?
Hopefully your furniture will arrive in some sort of vehicle, beyond this though there can be big differences in the type of service you can expect.
Pallet Service, some medium sized / bulky items will be delivered on a pallet, before you gasp in horror there can often be a good reasons, here are a couple. Damage, the most common cause of damage for furniture is during transport. Delivering on a pallet helps avoid this as the item will often be secured to the pallet, stopping it from moving around in the back of a van. Fast Delivery, most companies will offer there next day deliveries using a pallet service as it can be booked and dispatched within 24 hours.
The downside is most pallet deliveries are to the kerb side only, so you’ll need a friend to help you lift it inside. Most drivers are on a timed route so like to be on there way once the drop is made.
One Man Service, great for smaller less bulky items. The delivery driver will often help you in to your property with the furniture, but often they will not have time to unpack or set up the the item for you.
Two Man Service, as above but for larger items, were an extra person is needed to lift the furniture into the property. Most two man services will deliver the item into the room of choice.
Depending on the company some will offer to unpack and set up your furniture whilst others will not have this time built into their day. If you know setting up your new furniture will be a problem for you, then ask if a special arrangement can be made. Companies will have their reasons for offering the level of service they do, however just because the service is not offered as standard does not mean they cannot accommodate you. Often it will be the case of a few phone calls and a little extra planning.
Flats a quick note, the rules can vary when it comes to delivering into flats. Depending on the delivery company and often they are not explained until you have 5 boxes at the bottom of your stairway.
Some companies will only deliver to the ground or first floor unless there is lift with sufficient space to take the item to your floor. This is definitely worth checking before you arrange delivery. If the delivery company only deliver to the first floor but you love the item, don’t panic, call in a favour from a friend to help you the rest of the way. This is about planning if you know what to expect you can plan for it.
5. Customer Service
Good customer service can make all the difference. Talking or emailing someone who knows their products is a god send when you are buying furniture online.
Larger companies will have amazing offers, with tens of thousands of items for you to choose from, unfortunately if you need specific info on a product the customer service ‘specialist’ is unlikely to have the knowledge to answer you.
An easy way to test would be to ask some questions before buying, this way you can get a gauge of the company and staff you will be dealing with throughout your purchase. Lets remember purchasing furniture online is not quite as immediate as ordering other items.
So now you have asked…. Did you get a reply quickly? Did they provide the information requested clearly? Was it a personal reply? If yes, then these are good signs, it means you are likely to be dealing with a good team who understand the products and are able to help before and after the delivery of your furniture.
One last thing to consider, can you speak to the company on the telephone? Yes they have a phone number but how long do you need to wait on hold for it to be answered? Try giving them a call before placing your order, you need to know you can contact them outside of an email.
Well, I think that just about rounds it up, It can be hard to think of everything before you make a purchase. Hopefully this list gives you a start on things to consider when buying your next item of furniture online.
Thank you for reading, there are tons of points we could cover and we will in more specific posts.