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Buying furniture online

Since 2020, our lives have taken a dramatic turn, with all the lockdown measures. The global pandemic has pushed us to stay at home, safe and sound with our families. It has allowed us to capitalise on the work-from-home perks and greater savings from lesser travel. However, this also means that most of our shopping needs are being fulfilled online. With the tap of a button, we can get anything delivered to our doorstep! This power, however, comes at a cost. Often, we find ourselves thinking about the trustworthiness and quality of products bought from shopping applications. Many a time, we hear of other people’s horrifying after sales experiences. How trustworthy are these online sites and can we take the risk? Are the products as good as the seller claims them to be? The risk increases when it comes to high value products including furniture such as sofas, beds, mattresses or tables. 

In this article, we have compiled a few tips for you to ensure efficient online furniture shopping:

Online shopping

Photo by Dan Dimmock on Unsplash

1. Awareness is vital:

Before heading to na ecommerce/furniture website, it is important to have a few things at the back of your mind such as:

  • Setting a budget: Decide what you want to buy and scan the overall market to understand the price range of these products. After this, establish the budget that you can allocate to your future purchase, and stick to it!
  • Understand if it is a want or a need: You might be in dire need of a change of sofa, which qualifies it as a need. However, you might just be revamping your house,. You might have good items but it just isn’t cutting it anymore! In this case, find out how you can re-sell your old furniture products online and get a good price for it. Identify whether you need the product, or want it, and then take the next necessary steps
  • Authenticity, quality and brand awareness: What are the brands that are popular in India for sofas, dining tables, coffee tables, or beds? Although popularity plays a huge part in choosing a brand, you can also skim through the internet and find any upcoming/niche websites which might have good reviews and product offerings
  • Go through the client testimonials: Before you click on the “Pay Now” button, always (and we mean, always) read the customer reviews on other websites to assess if they have good products. Previous customers provide good feedbacks with pictures of the product, which can help you understand whether you really want to go for it
  • FAQs: If you have queries regarding the product size, material, or shipping options, you can go through the FAQs of the company website to gain more clarity. If your query still does not get resolved, consider shooting them an email and voicing out your questions there. Often, it is also reassuring to talk to a salesperson via phone or the customer care centre to get an idea of the company you are going to buy the product from

2. Shortlist the websites:

Take time and thoroughly understand the website you will be purchasing your furniture items from. Popular websites tend to be more reliable, as they have been used abundantly. This allows you to minimise any risks associated with providing your financial information (such as card and netbanking details) to them. You can conduct full-fledged research by taking the following steps:

  • Gain knowledge about the page: Identify a few websites and read about them. A couple of them can be the popular ones, and a few newer websites which might not be as well known. Newer companies often offer niche styles of furniture, which can fit into your style quotient
  • Store reviews: As mentioned earlier, store reviews can be obtained through simple google searches. There are also dedicated websites created just for customer reviews, so look out for those as well!
  • Return policy assessment: Go to the FAQs page of the websites to understand what the company’s return policy is. For aggregated marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart, return policies vary as per the seller - this would mean you would need to drill down to the particular product which suits your fancy and read about the return policy there
  • Figure out what the shipping costs are: Oftentimes, if your shopping cart exceeds a certain limit, the seller offers free shipping. However, this may not always be the case. Understand what the shipping costs are by reading about it. Companies offer exciting offers on shipping costs to boost their sales on their homepage, so it would not be hard to figure this out!
  • Select a website with a good selection: A diverse range of products can help maximise your options, allowing you to skim through several items before selecting one
Buying furniture online

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

    3.  Shortlist your furniture:

    Once you finalise a couple of websites (or maybe just one) that you will be buying from, you move onto the next step: shortlist furniture. This can be done by perusing the website, saving links of the items you like and comparing them:

    • Skim through the photos: Photos are the only indication of what will show up at your doorstep in a week or two. Zoom into these pictures and make sure the quality is good. Sellers who spend a considerable amount of time in getting good shots of their products rake in more customers. Stay aware of excessive photoshop fixes and/or render images of products. Render images are just artificially created images of furniture based on specific dimensions, using software.
    • What to look out for in furniture descriptions : Read about the product on the website. Descriptions are key in assessing whether the product can satisfy your current living needs. Some other things to look out for in descriptions
    • What is the material/fabric being used? If the product is predominantly wood based, then determine what kind of wood was used. In sofas, that are predominantly wood based, go in for hardwood like oak. In case of chairs, you can also opt for ashwood. Chair frames may sometimes use ply. As far as fabric is concerned, choose the one that requires least maintenance and is conducive to the weather where you live.
         Fabric swatches for recliner
    • Confirm the product dimensions from the site and the seller. Do note that the package dimensions could be different from the product dimesnions. This will be especially true for furniture that need assembly. For products such as desks and chairs, check the sitting height.These should be standard measurements and you can look for this in our blog:
    • Measure the space in your house that will seat the furniture. If you are looking for dining tables, make sure there will be sufficient space to navigate around the table after the product is placed.
    • Be wary of colors: Photographs can often get distorted, and might not be an accurate representation of what color the product is. For this, you can check out customer feedback and photos. Customers take it in different lighting, so you can get a fair idea of what the color of the product you are looking at would be.
    • Check product warranty: Ensure you read the fine print when it comes to product warranties. The duration of the warranty, the components that come under warranty as well as the terms and conditions of the warranty are all equally important. Also, ensure you find out how the product will be serviced in case of a repair.

    Buying sofas online

    4.  Set pricing limits/budget:

    Just because you have a budget and all of your furniture items are fitting into it, doesn’t mean you cannot amp up your savings! Look into the following things to maximise savings while purchasing furniture:

    • Price comparison: For online marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart, sellers usually sell the same products at different prices. Look out for these differences while buying your product. This would also require you to factor in the shipping charges to get the best deal overall
    • Sales/Discounts: If a mega sale is coming up in a couple of weeks, consider waiting for a bit before splurging. This can help you in effectively saving huge chunks of money which you would have otherwise spent on a normal day
    • Coupons and coupon websites: Coupon websites also promote discounts for different retailers, so look into those to maximise savings. These might or might not be directly available on the retailer’s page, so you might have to hunt down for those to get a good deal. Some of the popular coupon websites in India are CouponzGuru, Grabon, CouponDunia, HappyCheckout and CouponRaja

    5. Beware about the shipping options!

    Furniture items are bulky in nature, and come with shipping costs to cover their transport from the warehouse to your home. Keep the following pointers in mind:

    • Front door delivery: Will the retailer provide front door delivery? If you live in an apartment, this is an important question to consider. This can ease up any trouble you might have last minute if they do not provide such a service
    • Inside delivery: This is one step above front door delivery. The delivery executive also ensures the product is placed inside your house, wherever you need it
    • White Glove delivery: A full-encompassion shipping deal, white glove delivery is when the delivery executive brings in the item into your house and assembles it. Some items such as tables or shelves might require assembly, so figure out if your retailer covers this
    • Store pick up: Brick and mortar furniture places usually allow store pick up of products. If your items do not require much labour and assembly, you can opt for this. This will also allow you to check out the item at the store before bringing it home!

    Buying furniture online might be stressful, but can be fun if you know how to go about it. The main takeaway from this article: research, research, and more research! Spend time in analysing all of your options to choose low priced but good quality products. Also, once you are happy with your purchase, leave feedback for the retailers! This will help not just the retailer but also other potential buyers.