By Simone Pucci
No lines, no pushy people and no time constraints are just a few of the advantages of buying online. Internet shopping has been revolutionised with more than 6.7 million Australians purchasing goods via the World Wide Web. In 2011, NAB’s Online Retail Sales Index recorded a 29 per cent growth in online spending, with 75 per cent of those sales coming from domestic retailers.
The affordability and speed of online shopping has made certain that nowadays consumers are willing to purchase anything and everything - even furniture! As this can be a daunting process, we have put together a hip-pocket friendly guide to purchasing online so that you avoid disappointment.
Research the seller
Only buy items from sellers with impeccable reputations. If you are perusing eBay, before clicking that ‘Buy it now’ link check the customer feedback section. Found just to the left of the page, this will give you an idea of how other consumers feel about the seller’s shipping costs, their speed and efficiency, as well as the quality of items. Try to avoid purchasing products from sellers with a substantial amount of negative feedback.
For other sites, have a quick browse and search for their ‘Customer Reviews’ or ‘Testimonials’ page. Online stores love to show that they have a long record of satisfied customers. In addition to giving you peace of mind, you may also find helpful tips from consumers just like yourself!
If you still have concerns, don’t be afraid to call the seller and speak to them directly. Ask them to email you more images of the product so that you can check for any imperfections and ascertain the quality of the item. If the seller is also located driving distance from you, be sure to ask if you can stop by and have a look at the product in person.
Additional shipping costs can also raise the cost of an item. You may find yourself spending an extra $200 just for shipping – making you pay the same amount as if you were to buy in store. Shipping fees are calculated by the taking into account the size and weight of an item as well as the distance that the product will travel.
It is because of all these circumstances that it is sometimes better for you to organise shipping the item. Companies such as TNT Express and AirRoad Direct Freight offer a wide range of domestic, special and international services. Contact the seller directly and discuss whether this is a viable option.
What to do when the wrong item is sent
Not only is it annoying when you receive an incorrect item, but it can cost you an arm and a leg to send the item back. Know your rights before purchasing and ensure that any mistake made by the seller that involves costs is the seller’s responsibility. It is best to get all the specifics in writing just in case you have any future issues with the product.
ALWAYS read the fine print
Just like any other contract or online transaction, it is important to thoroughly read all the terms and conditions. Make sure you understand everything before going ahead with the purchase to ensure that you are covered if anything goes wrong.
Our top online furniture shopping sites
Laura Ashley: www.laura-ashley.com.au
Interiors Online: www.interiorsonline.com.au
Timeless Interiors: www.artdecofurnituredesigners.com.au
Dalani Home and Living: www.dalani.com.au
Image source: http://www.soybiobased.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/FurnitureLeechair.JPG
Do you have any online shopping tips? Post your comments below.