would you buy furniture on the internet?

Hi, I few hours ago a friend and I were talking about this and I would like to here your opinios and advices.

Would you buy furniture on the internet? If you are surfing the web looking for some furniture store or just “hanging around” and you find an online store with cool furniture design, not the normal but great designs and you do need some sofa or dining table for your place, or any other home product (designed by the online store brand) would you order it? I mean, you are not able to feel it, to sit on it or to prove it but it looks so cool and well the store guarantees that the furniture is 100% quality and comfort…

I´m asking you this because we were thinking that if we do not have enough money to rent a store and sell our designs there or even produce our furniture, internet is a great opportunity cause if the client likes our product and order it and pay 50% of its price we can produce it and send it and the get the other 50%. Is just an idea and we want to think about it.

Thanks for any comments! :smiley:

In theory it sounds nice, but I’m not so sure, having been burned by IKEA.

I’m not sure how most people do it, but if it is not a book, music, or some kind of media, i like to go to a store and look over a product. Esp if it is something like a digital camera. Then I might go back and buy it online.

In the case of furniture, I would be buying something I would see and use everyday over a period of years. I would definitely want at least the option to look and sit in it at a showroom. Even if it was a pure showroom and then I had to order it online.

Mancho, didn’t you have a coffee shop/ design bookstore awhile back? What about a coffee shop/ design bookstore/ showroom :wink:

Hi Yo, thanks for your comment. About the coffee shop it still in my head, is my dream and what I want to have, at the moment I dont have the money to do it, still Im thinking about it all the time and saving money and hopefully I will get the chance to open it in a few years, I want to do it right and nice so I have time. Anyway Im also trying to find someone who wants to invest with me!

I was thinking about the webpage because it doesn´t need a lot of money to get started, and me and my friend have some furniture designs, but is just an idea and I love comments like the one DEEZ wrote becuase they help you see whats wrong with your idea!


Well, it’s not MY company, but it’s who signs my checks.

Anyhow, Loftgoods (leather club chairs, Asian-inspired tables, etc.) sells exclusively on-line and with TV shopping channels like HSN and SNBC. Every once in a while we’ll get product placed on the store shelves. Target sells our leather chairs on-line. All of our product is designed to fit inside UPS OS3, so it’s easily shipped. Also, it’s crazy-compact so we can get maximum units on a container. The larger chairs actually knock-down, but have been engineered with a special knob that keeps them very sturdy.

Not plugging my company here, but it’s really nice, quality stuff. I wish we had the new designs on the website, but that will have to wait until after Fall Market (countdown, 12 days.)

Anyhow, on-line sales are completely do-able. We actually have a branch of the company that sells only on Ebay and we get nearly 40% of our total sales from that! And these are $1000 chairs!

Furniture just takes up so much real-estate on the showroom floor that it’s hard to be a brick-and-morter company like Ashley. And competition is fierce. We’re lucky to have half our company located in China, which is why I came on board in the first place. I wanted to get experience sourcing and developing product overseas.

I think it would be interesting to have strip-mall store fronts like Verizon and Cingular have, and just have the product shipped directly from a warehouse somewhere else. I suppose this is basically what Rooms To Go does.

Um, hope that helped a bit. If you have some designs, I’m sure I could get my company to produce them for you. You won’t believe the pricing, but the quality is still very, very good. None of that bi-cast, polyurethane crap. Or seaweed wood.

Dang, I really wish my new designs were up on our internet site. They’re being shown at market. Considering I was designing kayaks 6 months ago, I’ve had a baptism by fire in the furniture industry!

I bought outdoor furniture that was exlusively available to Amazon.com.
Love it.


sounds cool 6ix, look forward to seeing the new stuff

CG_ ironically, the only pieces of furniture we’ve purchased purely online where outdoor furniture. Mainly because it is just so hard to find affordable designerly outdoor stuff.

We got it from CB2

I think they only have 1 retail location, but seem to do well with online and catalog sales. Have you considered putting out a print catalog Mancho? Lots of furniture companies do a lot of business that way, and you take up physical space in someone home, they dog ear their favorites, keep it on the coffee table…

Buying online is not a huge problem, but buying online from Colombia might be (unless you plan to sell locally only). Shipping and customs direct to consumers in other countries will be a major headache for you. Also, requiring a 50% down payment just tells me that you don’t have enough money to pay for materials up front, which is another red flag. In fact, if you are accepting payment by credit card, your merchant agreement typically forbids this practice. To be perfectly honest, I don’t even need to see your stuff to say that you probably aren’t going to sell more than a few pieces a year on a website.

It would be an online store for the colombian market mainly, still of course we could ship to other countries, there are a lot of companies that help other firms to send their productos overseas and it is not that expensive.

About the 50% - 50% was just like an Idea, but i know it is not that good, we`d had to have credit card payment, at the beggining when I posted this we were thinking on a small website and no credit card payment… we were thinking of sending the furniture and then get paid cash, hehe I know it was kinda stupid, but now I think it would be better if clients could pay on the internet with their credit cards!

Yo, the catalogue is great, I didnt think about it, this is why I love posting ideas here and get advices, or %$·&)= because every word you guys have to say is good for us to grow and learn.

About the company in China is great, of course that would be when the store is kinda bigger, we`ll produce our furniture here wich is great quality, I just finish working at a furniture company in Bogotá, Colombia and they send a lot of products to USA, Panama, Venezuela and Chile… the quality is great but the price is a little high.

Thanks guys!

There’s VERY little furniture actually made in the states now. I’d like to speak with you about the South American furniture companies though, as we’ve been looking to Mexico or Latin America for production possibilities. Have to remember that no matter how cheap you may be able to get a product from China, you still have to get it here. Typically, a container is $4500 USD, and it sits on the ocean for a month. Not to mention it takes a while for the container to get to your door once it lands.

Here’s what I’d suggest. get some show-quality prototypes made of all of your designs. Then, sell it on Ebay. You’re not really going to sell it, but it’s a feeler. Our Ebay arm of my company does this to prove out new designs. You’d be surprised by the responses you get and it shows without a doubt that the product would actually sell. Also, you can try selling it at different prices to see where you get the most hits.

Does any of that help at all?

Hi 6ix, of course it helps, ebay and other web pages are really good for that, we have www.deremate.com and www.mercadolibre.com.co

Excelent idea. thanks

This is what people were all worried about … in 1996.

People will buy just about anything on the internet if they have reasonable trust associated with quality, customer service, a refund policy, their credit card or payment security, and all the other normal business concerns.

They probably will be hesitant to buy things that don’t have an established quality record, that aren’t being handled securely online, …

All the normal stuff.

Peopla are buying cars online, motorcycles, (even used vintage bikes, which are each unique and rife with potential issues) … they buy food, flowers, important gifts, plane tickets.

If you do it right, they will buy.

I did some work with a baby-furniture store in the Chicago (US) area, and they took 50% deposit on some orders. Some only ten percent, some custom jobs were all up-front.

What’s with the 50% now 50% later deal?

If you are offering a standard design that is ready to be shipped, you could charge up front, all of it. If you are doing expensive custom work, the customer might want to pay only a deposit and see that the work was acceptable. That would be HARD to sell online.

I think that is true. As long as the lead time was reasonable (a few weeks), I wouldn’t mind.

There is a showroom here in Portland ( http://www.ubhip.com/ ) that has some stuff in stock, but if you want any custom colors or materials (which they can do) it has to be made in Scandanavia somewhere and shipped into the US. I’ve waited 14 weeks for some pieces (damn you white microfiber!) and I think I did a 50% down in those cases if I remember right.

I’m not sure the only thing I ever bought furniturewise was half a chair…just the seat and back…no legs…I was supposed to add the legs myself but never got around to it…hmmm…maybe I should revisit my purchase…I bought it at IKea…in the scraps aisle…for like a buck or something. I dont think Id purchase something on the internet

We bought a sofa from this online company:

They brought it to our house, unwrapped it, set it up, and took the packaging away. White glove. The whole thing took about 15 minutes.

What made us feel comfortable about purchasing from them was the detailed info they offered about their workmanship and their money back guarantee. If you click on the “Warranty” tab you can see this info. I offer it up as an example of what I think might make other people comfortable with purchasing furniture on the web.

The 50/50 thing sounds like a hassle - I know as a customer I wouldn’t do it, and I think it would make your bookeeping a nightmare. The key is to make the purchase as easy as possible for the customer so that they aske themselves, “Why shouldn’t I buy this? What have I got to lose?” Quality product, options, reasonable price, no confusion, no risk.

My $.02.

Great! thanks for your advice and for the link!