Here are a few important ones –
- Time Saving: This may be a cliché but it actually is an absolutely valid argument in favour of online shopping especially so in the case of furniture shopping. The reason for this is really simple. Furniture is, as we all know, different from our regular shopping items in an obvious way. It is a non-standardised commodity. So where you might pop into a shop and buy, say an mp3 player of a particular brand, you don’t usually do so at a whim (at least not all of us). You’d plan what we want, study the specifications, view one that probably a friend has already bought and then go ahead with the buying decision knowing fully well that whichever shop you buy it from, it will be the same product. Furniture on the other hand requires even more thought to be put into and usually differs in terms of designs and ranges from shop to shop with only a few products available generically. This being a creative industry, catering to the tastes of the multitudes scores a high rank in the furniture trade agenda. This brings us to the issue of time. It isn’t a quick job even to go through webshops that have the type of furniture you might be after. Now imagine having to roam around city high streets scouring furniture shops for the same item. Gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘shop till you drop’. Now all of us might not be so selective or even downright picky about our designs, but if we had the opportunity, most of us would like to be at least a little selective and get what suits our tastes best and at the best possible price. Enter the online shopping world. It offers wide selections from across the country at highly competitive prices. No wonder online sales are rising at a much higher rate than offline ones. It really does save time and hassle.
- Extreme Competition: Economic downturn or not, who doesn’t like a great bargain? We are always on the lookout for good deals where we can save our hard earned dosh. The online marketplace is always an ideal place to look for deals that are the outcome of cut-throat competition between the retailers. The reason for this is the transparency that the internet offers when it comes to comparing similar products and their prices. The terms ‘Going-Out-Of-Business-Sale’, ‘Overstock-Sale’, ‘Summer-Sale’, ‘Winter-Sale’, ‘For-No-Apparent-Reason-Sale’, etc. no longer lead customers astray. Online shoppers have started seeing through the tricks of dodgy retailers for quite some time now. What matters now is the ultimate price for the product and service that is desired, and a few taps on the keyboard and a click or two of the mouse are enough to reveal a lengthy list of comparative pricing for almost everything. An open and honest pricing policy goes a long way in building good, regular customer flow for an online furniture shop. Compare this to shop-hopping in the physical world collecting prices from shop to shop and you would see that what would take days could be done online in a matter of minutes. Of course, it is a bit tricky due to the aforementioned non-standardised nature of the furniture trade but ‘keyword-power’ does come in handy here.
- Smaller Shops, Greater Value: In continuation to the previous point, well-managed smaller online shops are usually able to offer much better discounts and/or service as compared to the retail giants. That is quite in contrast to the physical world shop scenario and is due to lower overheads that the internet offers to the small shop owners. For buyers of course, it’s another win-win situation.
- Online Financial Security: A major factor that kept people vary of online shopping was the matter of online financial privacy and security. It was a rational fear in the early days of the internet marketplace and the effect has been pronounced when it comes to high ticket purchasing as is normally the case in the furniture market. Needless to say, trillions of dollars and pounds worth of online trade warrants amazingly high levels of security and that is exactly what payment service providers have been offering. Well known companies such as Paypal, Worldpay, Protx, etc. have absolute state of the art systems with extremely low failure rates and secure fraud protection systems offering ultimate peace of mind for customers. Yet some online furniture retailers do provide the familiar old and trusted methods of payment such as cheque payments and bank transfers. To each his/her own I say.
- Allied Industry Growth: As the online market grows for the furniture industry, so does one of its primary allied industry – nationwide furniture delivery. New companies have been sprouting up online which cater to small to medium furniture retailers by providing them cost effective delivery services, thereby reducing the need for the shops to maintain in-house delivery vehicles’ overheads. These savings are passed on to the consumers resulting in further increase in market growth. It is a chain reaction and a mighty beneficial one at that. However, not all delivery companies are up to the mark at the moment, in terms of quality, but growth has a way of ironing out the problems and the future here can only be better.
These are but a few of the important benefits of online furniture shopping.
But all this does not mean that everything is hunky dory in online-furniture-shopping land.
There are problems and pitfalls but as the market matures, so does the consumer psyche.
Progress, as wise old folks say, shall fuel progress.