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Fortify Your Online Furniture Shopping

We all reach a time where we decide hand-me downs have done their job and we deserve something nice and new.  This year many of us have skipped, or will be skipping, the vacation we budgeted for and have some funds to spoil ourselves.

Shopping online for clothes, groceries and other necessities has become a habit for many and saves precious time. Why not new furniture? The options are virtually endless, no commissioned salespeople and you can do it in your pjs!



But wait – the options are virtually endless!  How do you know if you are getting high-quality products?  How do you know if the site you are looking at is even legitimate? We have all heard stories of people ordering something and getting a doll’s chair instead of the chair for the living room they thought they were ordering.

The following tips should make the process less daunting and help you be confident in the purchases you are making.

Match Your Style

There are sites that offer every style under the sun and can be very overwhelming.  Look for a store the holds a commitment to something that you relate to.  Sorting through pages and pages of products can be time consuming and make your head spin.



Some stores may specialize in mid-century modern styles, if you are not into retro styles, save time and skip these sites. Search with terms that match what you are looking for from Antique to Shabby Chic!

See Their Selection

An online store with a good selection of furnishings gives you a better chance at finding everything you are looking for and can make co-ordinating your purchases easier.  Not only can you ensure that the styles and fabrics match but you can also have everything delivered in the same shipment.  Much better than needing to be home for each delivery or risking porch pirates!  Many stores also offer a combined shipping rate that can save you money.



Colour Cautions

Most sites do their best to provide accurate photos, the better the pictures, the better a shopper can decide. However, photos online can distort true colours, monitor settings alone make a big difference! Dark woods can look much lighter online than they will when delivered.  If you have selected a piece and want to be sure about the colour, check it out on different devices. Much like checking on the quality and customer service, check the reviews for comments about a difference in colour from when others made their purchase and what they received.



Description Deep Dive

After browsing pages and pages of furniture you may start scanning the descriptions instead of thoroughly reading them. But when you land on a piece you are actually considering purchasing make sure you read the description carefully, click all the tabs and if you still have questions most sites have customer service standing by to chat with.



Rate with Reviews

When it comes to furniture shopping, most of us don’t have a “go-to” site.  We just don’t buy furniture often enough and when we do it’s not usually the same furniture we bought last time, it’s more about finding something we like.  How do you know that you will be taken care of as customer?  How do you know if quality is worth the money you are spending? Use the reviews to rate your decision.  If a product has lots of negative reviews it could be a sign of poor workmanship and quality. If there were issues, how did the reviewer feel about the response from customer service?  Problems arise, often outside of a companies control, but if they are dealt with well that’s what matters.



Shop Securely

Before you enter your credit card and other personal information, reduce your risk of identity theft. When you begin your check out process look for indicators that the site is secure.  The URL (website address) will begin with “https” if it is secure.  If there is a lock icon you should be able click on it to read more about the sites security measures. 



Check the FAQs to see what steps the company takes to keep your information safe.  If there is a billing issue, will they email you asking for your credit card information? (Hopefully not!!)  Do they share your information with any 3rd parties?


Shipping policies are usually found under the FAQ pages. What is included in their shipping?  What are the delivery fees? Depending on your location the shipping companies and level of service may vary.  Do they deliver to your door or to a location near you that you will have to pick up from?  Is it only to your door or do they provide a White Glove Service that includes set up and removal of your old furniture?  Do the shipping policies meet your needs?



Return Policies

It happens!  Even when you have visited a retail location, checked out the couch in person, sat on it, felt the fabrics, and selected a fabric swatch… when the couch is delivered it doesn’t quite fit, you sink too far into the cushions and the upholstery doesn’t quite match the way you thought it would.  Knowing a company’s return policy is important.



Online you are able to take the time to read it and understand it before you make your purchase, unlike in store where it is usually in the fine print on page 16 of the sales agreement you are asked to sign in the middle of a showroom. They should be simple to understand.  How much time is allowed for returns?  Most stores provide a 30 day window to make sure you are happy with your purchase.  Do they provide a good warranty?  Often returns can be avoided with a warranty, a smart retailer will provide a warranty as part of strong customer service. Is a restocking fee or no refund policy? Is the customer responsible for shipping on returns? Large, heavy items do not ship cheaply! Be informed before making your purchase.  


Are you a pro at online shopping?  Do you have tips to a terrific experience?  Share them in the comments!


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