(ARA) – Sure you’ve shopped for CDs online, and even bought a book or two through a Web site. But when it comes to items you would normally test drive before buying – like cars or furniture – many people are still wary of purchasing online.
Yet the advantages of online shopping – including convenience, great prices and freedom from high-pressure showroom sales tactics – are very enticing. The good news is, you can buy furniture online by educating yourself and following a few simple guidelines.
Brad Haas, of Carrington Court Direct, a North Carolina-based manufacturer that sells its signature Parson’s and dining room chairs direct to consumers through the Web site www.CarringtonCourtDirect.com, says shoppers looking to buy furniture online should keep in mind the following:
- How long has the company you’re buying from been around? Does the company’s history predate the dawn of Internet commerce in the mid 1990s? ‘If they’re a recent start-up, they may not have enough of a track record for you to feel comfortable buying from them,’ Haas says. ‘Look for companies that have been in business more than 10 years, and that sold or made furniture before starting an online business.’
- Are you buying from a retailer or manufacturer? The answer can significantly impact the price you pay. Retailers must mark up products higher in order to profit. Buy from a manufacturer and you’ll probably be paying close to the wholesale price. Buying from a manufacturer also means that if there’s a problem with the furniture, you’ll be dealing directly with the company responsible for fixing it.
- Are the dimensions of the furniture clearly listed on the site? ‘It’s hard to judge the scale of an item by a picture on a computer screen,’ Haas says. Specific dimensions will help you ensure the piece will fit into your home décor – not to mention through the front door.
- Can you order fabric or finish samples before you place an order? A computer monitor probably won’t give you a good representation of the color of a fabric or finish. ‘At Carrington Court Direct, we will mail samples so that customers can really experience the color and texture before they buy,’ Haas says.
- A beautiful Web site does not necessarily equal beautiful furniture or good customer service. An attractive, professionally designed site may show attention to detail and quality. Or the site operator may have poured all their money into Web site design and have little left over to hire quality craftsmen and professional customer service representatives. ‘A lovely looking site may actually be used as a mask to hide poorly constructed furniture,’ Haas says.
- Is the price too good to be true? You can get good quality at a low price, especially on the Internet. However, always consider the cost of labor and materials to produce the piece you’re buying. If you’re buying an upholstered Parson’s chair, the price should sound reasonable enough to cover the frame, springs, cushion, fabric and finish.
- Don’t just pay for a big brand name. Small companies can be a great source of quality furniture at reasonable prices. Buying from a small company with a good background can save you hundreds of dollars.
- Can you get a real person on the phone if you have questions? Beware Web sites that never give a customer service phone number. You should be able to call and ask questions of a knowledgeable, courteous customer service person.
Carrington Court Direct has sold furniture for 23 years. Its Parson’s and dining room chairs can be found in dining rooms, bedrooms and living areas of homes across the country, as well as in quality hotels, designer showrooms, restaurants and offices. To learn more, or purchase furniture online, visit www.CarringtonCourtDirect.com.
Courtesy of ARAcontent