You have been shopping online for years now, purchasing clothing, books, software, music, etc. Today, you are looking for a computer desk for your home office. You type in your search to your favorite search engine and voila, a million or more results. Sweet! You choose the first selection and look around and see a few things you like at a price you are willing to pay. You click the buy button, enter your credit card details and you are set. Right? Not necessarily.
Ordering furniture online is different than ordering a book. It is not easily returned, has a greater potential for damage, and quality is not always easily determined. Before you hit the 'Buy Now' tab, take the time to follow these tips and possibly save yourself a lot of trouble.
Learning to Recognize Quality
Quality is not as easily determined when shopping online. You cannot see how well the joints are connected, test the file drawer for smoothness, feel the finish, etc. The work around is to become knowledgeable about furniture construction so that when reading the descriptions you will understand the terms used allowing you to recognize quality from the sellers product description.
Becoming knowledgeable about the brands and manufacturers is also a good practice. If you have purchased a particular brand before, then consider sticking with it. Otherwise, some research is in order. You can start by reading the reviews of the brand you have chosen at more than one online furniture store to get a broad sampling of opinions. You should also shop retail stores to get a feel of which brands meet your criteria for quality.
If you are shopping for home office furniture online then you may ask "Why would I go to a store? I might as well just buy there." We buy online for one of two reasons: convenience and / or price. First, you have to know what local retailers are charging to find out if you are indeed getting the best price online. Secondly, what could be more inconvenient than purchasing a computer desk online, having it delivered and having to send it back and wait for your refund? Take the time to learn what brands will satisfy your requirements and compare pricing.
Understand Shipping and Return Policies
Obviously the difference between shipping a desk and a pair of jeans is huge. Large furniture items have to be transported by freight and require special handling. Even a small computer desk can weigh 50lbs to 70lbs. You need to understand the shipping process from beginning to end. Some online furniture stores offer complete delivery and setup. Others would set it just inside the door and leave it to you for setup. Know what the service includes and be sure you have it in writing, either from the website or an online chat with a website customer service representative.
Another key point is to completely understand the return policy. Some specific considerations are: Do the contents have to be inspected with the delivery personnel present? Do you have to pay return shipping if you have to return due to damage? If you are sent the wrong item (it happens more often than you may think) can you refuse it and get a full refund? Think of every possible scenario that could go wrong and try to get an answer to how the situation would be corrected.
If you purchase Ready To Assemble (RTA) furniture know that you will have to assemble it. Some items like filing cabinets are quite a challenge. Large items like a desk or hutch require a second set of hands.
If you purchase pre-assembled office furniture you will want to know exactly what the delivery persons will do. At a minimum, make sure they are to haul off packing materials. For nicer furniture, paying a few more dollars to have the items setup in your home office, including the minor assembly performed such as setting a hutch or attaching a return, is a smart choice.
There are some good deals at online office furniture stores. However, as in any shopping experience "Buyer beware!"