Five tips and tricks for buying home decor online

Many traditional bricks-and-mortar stores are expanding their internet platforms to encourage online shopping, from small homeware products to bigger-ticket items.

Shopping online for your decor can be a great way to research pricing and product specifications, compare retailers and ultimately browse in your own time – something that can be difficult to do in the flesh between family and work commitments.


But, of course, not all retailers are created equal – product can be misrepresented, and there are a few common pitfalls to avoid when purchasing homeware online.

Tip 1: The first step is to find an online store that matches both your aesthetic style and your budget.

A store might carry the perfect sofa, but it may be out of your price range – so look for a similar product on websites within your price range. Although remember that price often can dictate quality.

Avoid costly mistakes by researching the product, then emailing or calling the store to ask any questions. Knowing that there is a professional and competent human being to deal with can create consumer confidence.

And when dealing with soft furnishings such as bedding, rugs, curtains or furniture, ask for samples to be sent to check the quality, texture and colour, as these can be misleading on a screen.

Tip 2: Before you rush and click ‘buy’, make sure you have checked the store’s warranties and return policies.

This is especially important for overseas sites, as they are not governed by New Zealand consumer laws, and it may be cost prohibitive to return items.

Even if you have shopped with the company in the past, check their onsite policies as these can change without notice, and can sometimes be different from their physical stores.

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Tip 3: Taking the time to measure your space, and understand the context in which your purchases will be placed, can save costly and time-consuming mistakes.

The scale of items is difficult to measure visually on a screen, and drawing a quick floor plan or sketch to show the item in situ can be a quick way to avoid a wrong decision.

If you have trouble visualising a completed room or mentally incorporating an item into your existing home, create a simple moodboard with an online site such as Olioboard, which allows you to upload your products and images.

Tip 4: Hidden costs and shipping fees can quickly add up, making online shopping a pricey exercise.

And things might get more expensive going forward, with the Government proposing a lowering of the GST threshold on overseas purchases.

When comparing shops and products, make sure you have done your homework on each online store’s hidden, or not so hidden costs, such as taxes, duties and shipping.

Tip 5: Online shopping can be a great tool for pre-empting traditional shopping.

Finding retailers that also have physical stores, and planning your shopping trips around styles and location, can help you avoid aimlessly wandering around furniture stores. This is particularly important when you have a limited time frame,or are travelling to an unfamiliar city .

Arm yourself with pricing, images and questions to ask in-store retailers, or set up consultation times with in-house design consultants to get expert advice and service.

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