For those of us who relish the tactile experience of in-person shopping, 2020's quarantine presented quite a challenge. The inability to physically touch and see products before purchasing was indeed a hurdle. However, the circumstances of the pandemic also prompted us to explore new horizons in shopping.
From groceries to automobiles, we adapted by taking our consumer experiences online. Supermarket deliveries surged, and car dealerships brought test drives to our doorsteps. E-commerce, in ways we had never imagined, blossomed before our eyes.
While some aspects of shopping have returned to the brick-and-mortar experience, others are here to stay. One such transformation is how we shop for and purchase fireplaces, mantels, and accessories.
If you're still apprehensive about buying essential items for your home online, we have some invaluable tips to make your online fireplace shopping experience smooth sailing.
1. Seek Brick-and-Mortar Perks in Online Stores
A successful online shopping expedition should emulate the creature comforts of shopping in person. To ensure you're dealing with a reputable company offering quality products, look for:
- Personalized customer service both before and after the purchase
- Free shipping
- Product information (i.e. videos, photos content, expert help, etc)
- Learning center and resources for customer education
- Well established, trusted businesses and websites
2. Go with a Company That Fits Your Values
Respected online fireplace retailers often garner well-deserved recognition through their commitment to quality. It’s important to find high-quality products, but great services and values are icing on the cake:
- Commitment to personalized service
- Low price guarantee
- Fast, free shipping
- Expert help
- Customization capabilities
- Satisfaction guaranteed
While fireplace companies may tout their achievements on their websites, it's essential to cross-reference these accolades from independent sources such as Houzz and customer review platforms.
3. Ensure Hassle-Free Returns and Claims Processes
While you hope never to need them, understanding a company's return and claims policies beforehand can reveal a lot about their commitment to customer satisfaction. Look for:
- Clearly articulated return policies and other terms
- Straightforward claims process
- Easy-to-find policy information on their website, often located at the bottom of the homepage
- Comprehensive fireplace companies leave no stone unturned in covering these essential aspects
4. Prioritize Reliable Shipping
The best online retailers distinguish themselves in terms of shipping and delivery. Most products require weeks or even months to ship, but you should keep an eye out for:
- In stock products that ship within a week (2 weeks for made to order items)
- Ensured shipping of 100% of your order together
- Refunds in case of order delays
- Fast shipping
5. Open Lines of Communication
Effective communication with your chosen fireplace company is vital. Ensure they offer multiple avenues for contact, including:
- Easily accessible customer service through a call center and chat
- Responsive social media channels
- Timely email responses.
Don't hesitate to test their communication channels by asking questions, engaging on social media, or trying out their chat support. Some companies even provide physical locations or direct phone lines for customer inquiries.
6. Request Samples
If tactile experiences matter to you, always order samples so you can compare colors and styles. Look for samples that replicate the sensory experience you miss from in-person shopping:
- Select the product you’re interested in
- Choose the color, wood type, or materials you want to consider
- Have them shipped directly to you
Samples allow you to bring a piece of the mantel into your home environment, helping you visualize how it will fit with your existing design, lighting, and other materials like fabrics, paint, backsplash, and flooring.
Although you may have a penchant for in-store shopping, modern technology and innovative thinking have made it not only possible but often preferable to shop for your home online. Give it a try; you might be pleasantly surprised by how much you love the experience. Get started today!