Home Improvements – Online Shopping Pros and Cons

by Rachel Laurendeau on November 20, 2012

When remodeling our homes, it is natural to want (or need) to save money whenever we can. Shopping around for good prices, looking for sales and even buying online has become quite normal during the renovation process. There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these shopping options. Let’s explore the online model first: what are the pros and cons of online shopping?

Advantages
• Prices are often very competitive, particularly in online stores with membership services.
• The variety of products online is incomparable; you have every store at your fingertips so you should be able to find just about anything your heart desires.
• Specialty items that you might not be able to find anywhere else can usually be found somewhere out in cyberspace.
• For those people who do not live in major urban centers with plenty of shopping options, online shopping may be one of the best options.
• If you don’t like crowds or find showroom floors and warehouses to be overwhelming, sitting at your home computer can be a much more pleasant experience.

Disadvantages
• Shipping costs can be quite high, particularly since many home improvement items are bulky or heavy.
• Shipping delays or even regular shipping times can have you and your contractor waiting for products, materials or tools while your renovation sits unfinished. Imagine if you ordered a soaker tub and it was delayed, so your entire bathroom remodeling had to be put on hold. I’m sure you wouldn’t be very pleased and your bathroom remodeler might have to move on to the next job.
• Return policies are not always clear nor are they as straightforward as they would be if you simply had to return an item to a store a short drive away. Some more reputable online stores do pay for the return shipping, if there is a problem with the product.
• Items can be damaged during shipping and there can be disputes as to when the damage occurred or who is to blame.
• If you are a bit of a home improvement rookie, the lack of a knowledgeable sales person can be a hindrance to shopping online. Some shops do have online chats available or you can typically send an email if you have a question but it isn’t quite as personal as asking an experienced professional face-to-face.
• If, like me, you are a very tactile and visual person, shopping online does not give you the opportunity to touch, sample, feel the quality of a material or match your purchases. Those tiny thumbnail photos can be quite deceiving when you finally get the item in the mail. If you have the luxury of time, depending on the product, some sellers do have samples sizes that they can send you. You’ll have to pay the shipping though.

As a seasoned home improvement junkie, I still recommend shopping in traditional stores for most items, as long as you can find what you’re looking for in your city. There are always exceptions, though, just be sure that you are dealing with a reputable online store before you make any purchases.

Come back soon, for our next installment on home improvement shopping.

 

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