I’m a avid online shopper and prefer it over in-store shopping for most items because of its convenience and ability to quickly look at several items and easily compare while sitting on the couch in my leggings. It’s easy to search exactly what I’m looking for and I don’t have to fight crowds or check out lines.
However, when it comes to shopping for furniture online, it can get a little tricky. How are you supposed to buy something, like a couch or dining chair, online without ever sitting on it to test it out? You can’t, obviously...That’s one of the tradeoffs of online shopping in the comfort of your own home.
So, to make shopping for furniture online a little less scary, there are a few things I’ve learned over my extensive online shopping experiences over the years that I ALWAYS look for before ordering online to ensure I don’t totally regret my decision when the piece arrives.
How to Shop for Furniture Online
Anytime I’m looking at something online no matter what it is, I always read reviews to see what other people are saying. You do have to take reviews with a grain of salt, as you never truly know how truthful they are, but reviewers usually point out things like color or quality or size that you wouldn’t be able to get a true sense of online, so they are definitely helpful to at least read. When there are several bad comments or if it has under 3 stars, I usually pass on the item and keep looking for something else. If the site you’re on doesn’t have any reviews, try Googling the name of your product and seeing if you can find any other retailers online that sell the same product that might have reviews or if someone else has written an article about the product.
Free Shipping AND Returns
This one is major. I almost exclusively only buy from sites that offer free shipping and returns. Free shipping is especially important when buying furniture online, because the bigger the item, the higher shipping cost. Sometimes it can cost hundreds of dollars and who wants to spend that on shipping? A lot of retailers are offering free shipping now luckily, so I hardly even look at retailers if they don’t offer any kind of free shipping or returns, or if there isn’t a store located near me that I can return there if needed. I just don’t want to pay extra to ship an item if there are other options out there that do it for free.
Furniture can sometimes look different online than what you expected, so it’s important to be able to return pieces for a full refund without having to pay an arm and a leg to ship it back. I always check if the retailer offers free return shipping before ordering something so I know that if for some reason I don’t like the piece and need to return, I can.
I’ve returned or exchanged a few items I bought online because it wasn’t exactly what I wanted after seeing it in person, including a patio table and kitchen chairs, and the free returns have been a life-saver.
Great Customer Service
This goes along with free shipping, but a company with amazing customer service turns me into a loyal customer and I keep coming back. I want the peace of mind that if I buy something and it’s just not working out or arrives damaged, I can return it easily without jumping through a million hoops. Some companies like Nordstrom are known for glowing customer service and I’ll choose them over a retailer offering the same item for slightly cheaper every time. Great customer service just makes the buying experience that much better and you feel good about your purchase.
A few of my personal favorite online stores that I’ve had great online experiences with are Target, Joss and Main, Wayfair, Article, Minted, West Elm, Pottery Barn, William Sonoma, and PBTeen. When I’m looking for furniture or decor, I always check these stores first and see if I can find what I need there. I’ve ordered from all of them online and each company was great and happily refunded me and sent a replacement if needed (there were a few instances).
I got our couch from Article online and we absolutely love it. I wrote all about our couch here, including the buying process. It seems crazy to buy a couch online without ever having sat on it, but Article offers free returns so if you don’t like, you can send it right back. I wasn’t finding what I wanted in store in our area, so it’s nice to have options online.
Related post: Ultimate Guide to Buying a Couch that Lasts
Double Check Size and Color
Computer screens makes it difficult to gauge the actual size of something, and the color isn’t necessarily a true depiction of what it looks like in-person. When it comes to size, always always ALWAYS get out your tape measure and measure your space in your home to makes sure the item is the correct size you need and that it will fit the space appropriately. I mis-measured when we were couch shopping the first time around a few years ago and forgot to allow room for a walkway (kind of important ha), so when the couch was delivered, it turned out to be way too big for the space and we were left with a TINY walkway. Definitely not ideal.
As far as color, if you’re ordering something upholstered, if possible, order fabric samples first. Usually companies offer them for free so you can see colors and textures in-person and compare it to the rest of the stuff in your home to make sure it matches. But if they don’t offer free samples, that’s why you want great customer service and free returns so you can return it if needed.
Is It Pre-Assembled
It’s nice to know if the furniture is pre-assembled or if you’ll have to put it together yourself. Let’s be honest, not everyone is up to the challenge of spending hours matching pieces and hammering nails. I don’t know about you, but I need to mentally prepare myself if it requires hours of assembly. Send all the wine and turn up T-swift, please.
Look at Materials
Since you can’t touch and feel the item through the computer screen, check what materials it’s made with. The materials tell a lot about the quality of the piece and if it will last. For wood furniture, solid wood is much more sturdy and usually more expensive than wood composite or particle board. Which is why IKEA furniture is so affordable. If you’re buying a table or couch or chair that will be used a lot, you probably want something that’s study and well-made so it can hold up to the heavy use. For night stands or entryway console tables, I’m ok with getting a piece that’s made with not as high of quality materials because they don’t get used like a couch.
Every time I’m shopping online for furniture, or really anything, I always look for these 5 essentials. I’ve definitely had times when an item arrived damaged, or the color was off, or it just wasn't the right size, but I’ve never been stuck with it or lost money because I did my research ahead of time to make sure I’d be able to return or exchange.
What are your favorite online stores or where have you shopped and had a great experience with ordering online? I’d love to hear!