Buying online for everything is becoming the norm for many people in the UK. With furniture, it’s a little different because it’s larger and heavier, and in some ways a more personal item because you’ll live with it and use it every day. One of the advantages of shopping online for furniture is that it expands beyond what your local home furnishing shop has to offer and provides access to independent furniture producers across the UK.

Here is our short guide to buying furniture successfully online and being happy with your purchase.

Ask for a Sample Swatch

Just like when shopping for a new sofa, it’s possible to ask for see a sample of the wood or fabric that will be used in the furniture. Most reputable companies will be only too willing to send out a sample before you place an order, explains Daniel from Verty Furniture. Given that most monitors, flat-panels, and mobile screens are not 100% Adobe RGB colour accurate, the colours you see on a computer screen won’t match what they look like with the naked eye. The only way to resolve that discrepancy is to request a free swatch.

Get Real Clear on the Return Policy

The fine print certainly matters with furniture purchases because it’s large enough that you won’t want to be stuck with a large piece of unwanted furniture should you be dissatisfied and you may not be permitted to return it either. It depends on the online seller whether they will pay for packing and return shipping or expect the customer to pay for that. The cost to ship out such a large, heavy item is surprisingly high, so this is no small point.

Bear in mind that some products that are either custom designed or were produced in limited edition design choices are usually not returnable and fall outside of any standard return policy. There are some distant selling rules in the UK that may help should a problem arise, as buyers usually are permitted a cooling off period to return items undamaged within a reasonable period of time.

Check Online Review for the Website/Manufacturer

You should check the recent reviews on the website or manufacturer. Google has their own review system now for sites and companies. There are also independent review sites to help consumers in the UK make better choices when shopping online.

Given the typical expense of furniture that’s usually in the hundreds or thousands of pounds, it’s certainly worth taking a few minutes to investigate the site you’re planning to buy from and whether the furniture manufacturer has positive past reviews about the durability and overall quality of their products.

Consider the Shipping Charges

The shipping charges that a UK company charges to dispatch your furniture order is shown in the help section, the FAQ or a special shipping page. It’s possible that the website says they offer free shipping above a certain order value. That’s fine but bear in mind that they’ve probably bundled a proportion of the shipping costs into the price of every item. As such, the “free shipping” is more of a sales technique than it is a real thing.

There could also be a handling fee that’s added to the invoice price. The handing fee is separate to any shipping charge. When the product being sold is retailed on other online sites, then compare the total cost of the purchase on more than one shop to see which site is the cheapest.

Buying furniture online isn’t much different to buying anything else over the internet. It is certainly more difficult and costly to return any items you’ve received that didn’t meet your expectations, so this is something to be especially careful about to ensure you have the option to return without getting into a prolonged dispute.