Online Shopping Tips

By Adriele Graham

July 31, 2020


It’s ideal to see and feel the items you would like to purchase but there is no denying that online shopping is very convenient. As a mother of a soon to be toddler (her 1 year birthday is in a week and a half!) there is no time in my schedule to spare and especially not during an ongoing pandemic. There’s also the fact that there are undeniably more options online. If you are looking for something that is very particular, you’re more likely to find it online than in a showroom or store.

At the end of the day, no matter what purchase you are making, we all just want to find good quality items for a fair price. Here are a few tips for you to utilize while online shopping so that you aren’t stuck with something that is just not what you had in mind.

The most obvious tip is to read the reviews and see what people are saying about the products. Keep in mind that a good product may still have a few bad reviews so it’s important to read those too. I’ve often been able to recognize when people had ridiculous expectations for products by reading their one-star feedback. This is also where common flaws are found but it’s up to you which ones are deal breakers.

Look through the pictures provided by the manufacturer and pay special attention to close-ups.  Also see if any of the reviews have customer images attached. The review pictures are great because they give you real life examples of the product rather than the very staged pictures from the manufacturer with perfect lighting. Many manufacturers aren’t even photographing their products in vignettes or in action anymore but are instead choosing to photoshop them into pictures (some of these are more obvious than others).

Seems like a no brainer but pay attention to the listed dimensions. The pictures can be misleading. Don’t assume it will fit in it’s intended location, measure the actual space and make sure the proportions are good. Pay special attention to the height as well. I can’t tell you how many friends have confessed to me that they thought all curtains came at the same height or that they didn’t realize there is a difference between barstools and counter-stools. End tables that are higher than your sofa arms and console tables that are taller than the sofa’s back are also some common ones to watch out for and avoid. For large furniture pieces, mark out where they will go with painter’s tape or newspaper if possible. Nothing beats a template that’s to scale. If you are purchasing furniture for an entire room or home make sure to start with a floor plan. Here is our guide to get you started with measuring a room.

Usually the materials are listed under the project specifications. If you are looking for actual finishes like real marble or wood you should confirm that is in fact what you are getting. Some laminates and other faux finishes are very convincing if all you are referencing is the product images alone.  There may be a material that also just looked like something else to you. Avoid the surprise and read the specs.

Samples are the next best thing to seeing and feeling the item in person. Although they are not offered for every manufacturer or every product, when they are, it usually pays off to get them. If possible, get a few samples in different ranges. You would be surprised how your opinion can change once you have them in hand.

This is one of the less obvious things to look at, but it really helps especially when you are narrowing down between items. Once, while comparing the weight of two coffee tables that came in similar finishes, I was able to recognize that one had a weaker hallow frame.

The saying goes “you pay for what you get” so don’t think that your Ikea priced end table is going to be made of walnut and have dovetail joints. Be realistic with your expectations. High quality furniture uses more expensive materials and has higher craftmanship while inexpensive furniture utilizes budget materials and is often machine made, all to keep the price as low as possible. There is nothing wrong with having a mixture of both, especially if you do your part to extend the life of your furniture.

When you’re ready to check out with your online shopping purchases make sure you do a quick search for the manufacturer and coupon codes. Its fast, easy, and saves you money….does it get much better than that?! If there aren’t any coupon codes at least you checked and know you didn’t lose out on anything.

These are some of the many things we consider at House Meraki while searching for products for our clients and ourselves. I hope this was helpful and please let us know if you have any other useful tips to share. Happy shopping; may the force be with you!

Live your fullest!