So we all know that sourcing online is our new reality, whether it is driven by stay at home orders, looking to become more efficient or distance from a brick and mortar showroom. The reasons are as diverse as the designers who do it, but just as there are techniques and strategies to shopping at a furniture market like High Point, there are strategies and pitfalls to be aware of when selecting and specifying online. Here are five tips to making online specification and shopping a success.

  1. Check Dimensions- This is probably the most basic, and surprisingly overlooked element. It can be a shock when your item arrives and it is much smaller (or larger) than what you imagined it would be. So pay attention to the dimensions that the vendor gives, it’s a good rule of thumb to measure it against something you have in your studio, so that you have an accurate idea of the size.
  2. Ask about freight when you get a quote- Many online bargains are spoiled when you find out that freight may be equal or higher than the cost of the product you are buying. So when you are asking for a quote be sure to enquire about shipping to your area too, it will avoid some tense client phone calls later.
  3. Always check lead time. At the moment lead time can be a project killer. So if you are on a short timeline, one of your first questions should be how long will it take to get it to me. Often the time estimate is till the vendor has it in hand, if that’s on the other side of the country to where you are, you need to add another couple of weeks to that.
  4. Have someone check when delivery arrives. For many of us, we may be ordering for a project that is several months away from install, so it is super important that the delivery is open and inspected when it arrives. Most vendors have a very specific window for you to make claims of damage. If the box sits for 3 months in your warehouse without being opened you are unlikely to get a sympathetic ear if you claim damage.
  5. Using DesignerInc can cut your specification time in half. Going straight to various vendor websites can be a maddening experience. Trying to remember not just their web address, but your password, etc, etc, can make it laborious. Using DesignerInc not only streamlines that process but allows you to search by color, price and even availability, these are not features on a lot of vendor sites. Also the ability to shop so many vendors at once allows you to streamline your online specification time by as much as 50%, who doesn’t want that?

As much as I love to see things IRL, having the ability to shop, source and purchase online can create a new freedom for designers and the ability to once again offer unique products to our clients that are both well designed and priced competitively.