Five tips when buying outdoor furniture online

Buying furniture online need not be a scary proposition. Armed with a few tips for a successful search, anyone can make an informed, comfortable decision when it comes to finding outdoor furniture. In most cases, local stores will not offer the same selection, pricing or quality that a quality outdoor furniture online retailer will, making an online purchase a smart decision. Here are ten things you should keep in mind when shopping for outdoor furniture online.

1. Look for the Warranty Statements

Any Outdoor furniture retailer or discounter worth considering will have a clear, well written and definitive statement of warranty OR clearly state there is no warranty on their products. It is recommended, however, that you strongly consider patronizing online sellers that will back their products with a warranty on manufacturing defects for a certain period of time. These statements should be easy for you to find, and make sense without having a law degree. Many online outdoor furniture websites will warranty the furniture they sell for a certain period of days after the furniture is received. Others worth considering highly will warranty their furniture for 5 years, 10 years, or longer.

2. Read Guarantee Policies and Return Policies

When considering an online purchase for smaller, less expensive items, these policies are still important, but not nearly as important as when you’re spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on outdoor furniture. An online furniture shop worth its weight in gold will clearly state its guarantee and return policies, and those policies will more favor the customer, and not the shop’s interests. What happens if you receive shipment and are not comfortable in your furniture or it is clearly not what you had expected? Look for a money back guarantee to help with peace of mind. Most good outdoor furniture websites will guarantee your satisfaction within the first few weeks or longer.

If you DO need to return the furniture, be sure you understand the return policies BEFORE you buy. The standard practice for online outdoor furniture companies is to require the purchaser to pay return postage and a restocking fee of anywhere from 10% to 20%. So be prepared, just in case. However, some retailers will pick-up the tab for return shipping and charge no fee. Of course, if you do your homework on a site you’re interested in (keep reading), you should be a satisfied and happy customer!

3. Take Note of Shipping Policies and Charges

Shipping outdoor furniture can be expensive. Shippers are now charging businesses by box volume and not by actual weight. Some companies will offer very low prices to snag you early on, only to surprise you with higher than expected shipping charges. Stay away from these outfits. The best online retailers will be up front with their shipping charges or even offer free shipping (while still offering good and fair pricing.)

Most outdoor furniture sellers will offer one standard shipping service through a major national carrier. Don’t fret if you find this to be the case with your chosen retailer. Most customers will receive their shipment within 10-14 business days depending on the online seller, although sooner is becoming more common. If one shipping method is offered and you need your furniture sooner, don’t hesitate to email or call the online store (they’ll have their contact information clearly posted if they’re reputable (see below)) and ask for a quote on faster delivery. Be warned, though. Expedited shipping service can be very expensive.

4. Look for Quality Pictures and Thorough, Descriptive and Grammatically Correct Descriptions.

When you read the product descriptions and look at the pictures, do you get the impression that the online business understands what they’re selling? Is it clear that the business has taken time to present it’s products in the best way possible to its potential customers? You as the customer should have a clear idea of what the outdoor furniture product is, how it looks, and how it may look in your home setting. A business that makes it difficult for you to view and understand the products may not be worth your time. This could be an indication of potential future customer service snags.

5. Read Customer Testimonials

Probably the best way to gage your potential future relationship with an outdoor furniture business, customer testimonials are your window into business practices and product quality. Look for happy customers satisfied with their outdoor furniture purchases. Even more, however, look for those testimonials that may mention a hitch or snag in the purchase process and how that customer is now satisfied with their purchase – perhaps even to the point of recommending that business to their friends and family. This kind of testimonial should carry almost more weight than a whole string of gushing customer comments.

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