Add to cart, cautiously: tips for buying furniture online on Black Friday

Follow this handy guide to ensure you make a wise buy

24 November 2020 - 07:30 By Leana Schoeman
Investing in a new piece of furniture is exciting, but make sure that you pay attention to the fine print when buying online.
Investing in a new piece of furniture is exciting, but make sure that you pay attention to the fine print when buying online.
Image: 123RF/Milkos

Investing in furniture can be a daunting task at the best of times, and even more when there's a time crunch to score a great deal on Black Friday.

While shopping for furniture online can be fun, easy and convenient, it's not without its pitfalls, so follow these tips before you click “add to cart”: 

1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK

There are a multitude of online furniture stores these days and making sure that you buy from a reputable retailer is vital. If you’re uncertain about which ones you can trust, ask friends and family for recommendations.

It's also well worth reading the reviews on each store's website, and checking out their social media pages — the comments on their posts should give you a good indication of whether they've got happy customers.

Try to buy furniture from local brands whenever possible. Not only is this often the more eco-conscious choice, but you'll be supporting the economy and investing in world-class craftsmanship and design. You'll find a great selection of products by some of the country's best designers at these online stores: designstore.co.za; esque.co.za; iconomyonline.co.za;  knus.co.za; and biellebellingham.com

You could also check out the online directory on the SA Decor & Design website; this brand releases a trusted annual Buyer's Guide of local décor- and design-related products and services.

2. DON'T RUSH INTO ANYTHING

Taking your time to shop around and go through the motions of deciding — and often reconsidering — what you need and what your budget allows for is possibly one of the most important steps in buying furniture, or anything for that matter.

Visiting Pinterest and paging through décor magazines can be a great way to help you visualise things, so take your time and enjoy the experience.

Don't let the special offers on Black Friday tempt you into making an impulse buy. Remember you'll have to live with the furniture you purchase for years to come, and this isn't the chance you'll have to buy something on sale.

3. MEASURE AND REMEASURE

Choosing what you need and like is one of the easiest steps in the process, but don’t let that cloud your judgment: furniture can look great online but whether it will fit into the space you'd like to place it — or even through the door — is another story.

To avoid buying something that ends up being too small or large, make sure to carefully measure the space you intend to put it, and then remeasure to make absolutely sure. You could even make a paper template of the piece to help you visualise what it'll look like in the room.

Another tip is to ensure the measurements provided by the supplier on their website are accurate; it might be worth confirming this with a sales consultant.

4. SEE IT IN REAL LIFE IF POSSIBLE

It's an extremely good idea to try to see the furniture you've chosen in real life before clicking “add to cart”. Things don't always look exactly like they do online and it can be beneficial to feel the finish first hand, especially when it comes to upholstery.

Use the days leading up to Black Friday to visit retailers which stock the pieces you've had your eye on so you can check them out in person.

If that's not an option, request as much information from the retailer as possible — extra images, additional measurements and anything else that could help you determine that you're making the right choice.

Some websites allow customers to upload photos of their purchases in the product review section of their website. Comparing these casual happy snaps with the retailer's professionally styled photos can be eye-opening.

5. READ THE SMALL PRINT

Investing in a new piece of furniture is exciting, but make sure that you pay attention to that last bit of super important information: how much is delivery, and will they charge extra to professionally assemble the piece once it arrives? The fees will add to your overall costs so it's important to factor them in if you're on a tight budget.

Then there's always the chance that furniture you bought doesn't work in the intended space or isn't what you'd visualise so always make sure you are clear on the retailer's return policy and whether there are any added costs associated with this.