According to projections from the E-Commerce: United States report, furniture and furnishings are expected to be the fastest-growing segment of e-commerce sales through 2022. This shows how often more and more people are buying furniture online.
If you want to buy furniture online, chances are that you have many questions about how to do it properly. You might be asking yourself:
“How can I be sure that the furniture will fit in with the rest of my decor?”
“What if the furniture arrives and I don’t like it? Can I get my money back?’
“How do I know if the furniture I’m looking at is high quality?”
It can be a confusing process—and an incredibly stressful one, too, if you’re going to end up spending a lot of money on your new furniture. That’s why we’ve put together this guide for you.
By learning about the benefits of buying furniture online, and all the right tips to follow, you can buy a great piece of furniture at a great price. Read on to learn more.
Why You Should Buy Furniture Online
There are some great reasons why you should buy furniture online. From saving you time and energy, to allowing you to select furniture that caters to your tastes and not those of the masses, buying furniture online is a great way to buy furniture.
You Save Time and Money
When you’re buying furniture online, you don’t have to leave your house or office. If you’re always busy as a restaurant owner, then we know how important your time is to you; you don’t want to spend all day at a furniture store when you need to be at your restaurant.
With online furniture buying, you can see what appeals to you during work breaks, and when you’re back home after a long day. You’ll also save money because there will be far more options online to choose from than in a brick-and-mortar store.
You Won’t Have to Deal With Sales Pitches
One of the worst things about going into a furniture store is all the sales pitches you get from the staff. Because they get commission on what they sell, they’re pushy. In addition to being annoyed, you might end up buying something you didn’t even want to buy in the first place.
Online furniture shopping, on the other hand, allows you to shop how you please. You’ll still get customer service, usually in the form of a chat window, email, or a quick call made by you to the company.
The Style Is up To You
Before e-commerce was a big thing, consumers were mostly stuck with whatever was in fashion at the time—whether they liked it or not. Now, with e-commerce, the individual has way more power.
So when you’re buying furniture without a showroom, it’s up to you how you want the furniture to look, whether you’re going for a classic, retro, or modern feel.
Budget for What You Can Afford
If you’re wondering how to buy furniture online, the first step is the same as it would be when making any purchase for your restaurant. Think about how much you can really afford. Like many restaurant owners, you have to think about how much you need to break even.
Once you’ve done this, think about how much you spend and make monthly. If you’ve been negatively affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic, include this in your budgeting. If you’re making changes because of it—for example, building a patio out back—include them too.
If you think renovating your restaurant and buying new furniture will bring in quite a lot of money, include those projections—but remember that you shouldn’t be too optimistic while budgeting.
By now, you should have an idea of what you can afford when it comes to the furniture you’re buying online.
Ask for a Color Swatch
It’s also a great idea to ask for a color swatch. This is what to ask for when buying furniture online because sometimes, the color that you see on the screen is totally different from the one that you get once the furniture arrives at your door.
In addition to this computer monitor issue, you might want to see how the light hits the material at different times of the day. You should also hold it up to your walls, drapes, and other furniture that’s already there to ensure it goes with your decor.
Color swatches are free to get, so given that there are benefits to asking for one, just go for it. If the company you’re considering buying furniture from doesn’t have them available, then it’s worth going with another company—since this is a sign they might not know what they’re doing.
Double-Check the Dimensions
Before you buy any furniture online, you’ll want to measure the area where you’re planning to put that booth seat, couch, or table. Otherwise, you might end up with a beautiful piece of furniture that doesn’t fit where you thought it would.
Then, once you’re online, double-check and triple-check the dimensions of the furniture piece to ensure that it’s the right size. And don’t forget to be sure that you can get it through your restaurant door!
See How It Looks
Obviously, you can’t see how the piece of furniture literally looks in your restaurant until you’ve ordered it and it’s sitting in front of you. However, some furniture retailers make it possible for you to digitally upload a piece of furniture into your space.
Anthropologie and West Elm allow you to do this. Another idea is to Google Image search the piece of furniture you’re thinking of buying, to see how other people have placed it in their homes. Take a look at Flickr and Pinterest, too.
Take a Look at the About Page
When you’re buying furniture alone, the company’s website can tell you a lot. If you go to their About Page and there isn’t much information there, or it isn’t designed well, then this is a red flag that they probably don’t care much about selling great furniture.
After all, if they don’t care about making their website the best it can be, why would they care about making their furniture the best it can be?
When looking at their About Page, look for a mission statement about their company, where they go into their values, and what their history is.
There should also be information there about how much they value their customers, and how they can serve you better than others.
Additionally, there should be contact information on their About page—or they should have a Contact Us page that makes it easy to get in touch with them. If they’re not easy to get in touch with, this is a sign that they aren’t a reputable company.
Keep in mind, however, that many online stores don’t have brick-and-mortar stores. So if there isn’t an address but there are an email and phone number, there’s nothing for you to worry about.
Review Customer Reviews
Another way to find out whether the company you’re buying furniture from is a good company is by reading customer reviews. Read as many as you can, and collect information on what people say about:
- Furniture quality
- Issues with shipping
- Customer service
- The returns policy
- If they got what they were expecting from their order
By doing this, you’ll have a pretty good idea about what you can expect from the company—and if their furniture is worth buying.
But Take Reviews With a Pinch of Salt
At the same time, however, you’ll want to take reviews with a pinch of salt. If there’s one extremely negative review, but the rest are positive, then chances are that person was simply having a bad day.
Additionally, take a look at how the company replies to reviews. Are they helpful? Do they offer discounts or refunds when a customer complains about something, or are they defensive? This will also tell you a lot about how a company treats its customers.
Create a Mock-Up
When you think you’ve chosen the right piece of furniture for your restaurant, create a mock-up. Clear the space where it’s going to go and use masking tape to mark exactly where it would go. Put masking tape on the wall too, so that you can take height into consideration.
Then, put other pieces of furniture around where your new piece would be to see how it will look in its element.
You might find that it’s actually not the best place for it, in which case you might end up choosing another area that requires you to change dimensions entirely.
Think About the Store’s Style
When you start searching for furniture online, it’s a good idea to start off by thinking about what your style is. Take a look at your restaurant space, and ask yourself what vibe you’re going for. And who do you appeal to? Families, people on dates, sports fans, 9 to 5ers?
Once you’ve done this, leaf through a few furniture magazines and circle the pieces that speak to you—and that seem like they’d fit into your restaurant. Once you’ve done this with a few magazines, cut out the pieces you like.
If you’ve done your research online, print them off.
Then, take all the furniture pieces you like and put them up on a piece of butcher paper or corkboard. You now have an idea of the kind of aesthetic you prefer—and that will work with your restaurant’s aesthetic.
Going online furniture shopping, don’t only look at the pieces that interest you, but at the overall style of what the business is selling. If it doesn’t go with your aesthetic you’ve created, then their furniture might not be the best fit for you.
Get a Deal
It’s also smart to shop for furniture at the right time. If you know when sales are, then you can save a lot of money on your furniture.
Traditionally, furniture stores have sales in the summer. However, look out for holiday sales too, like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas sales.
Be Aware of Assembly Challenges
Remember that when you order furniture online, it might be delivered not assembled. If this is the case, you’ll need the right tools—and maybe a good friend who’s good at home improvement—to get the job done.
If you think this might be an issue for you, ask online furniture stores if they’ll do assembly upon delivery, or if they can assemble the furniture before it arrives to you.
Go in-Store if You Can
If you’re buying furniture online from a business that also has brick-and-mortar stores, it’s worth going into their stores to take a look at the furniture you’re thinking of buying. Seeing the piece of furniture in person makes a huge difference.
This might make you ask yourself, “If I’m going to the store, then why should I even consider shopping online?”
Well, when you’re choosing between online options, you’re more likely to make the right choice with consideration instead of buying something because a pushy sales rep tells you to.
Additionally, there might be sales online you can take advantage of that aren’t available at the brick-and-mortar store.
Need More Tips?
Need more tips so you can buy furniture online that works for your restaurant? Or do you need more help figuring out what your restaurant’s aesthetic is? Maybe you’re looking for tips on how to choose a specific piece of furniture?
Whatever you need, we’re to help. Here at Richardson Seating, we’re experts on everything related to restaurant furniture. Check out our contact us page to learn more.