Often, our clients ask if they can purchase some of their home products, such as light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, and even appliances, online. While the short answer is yes, we encourage our clients to consider the pros and cons of buying home products online.
The Pros of Buying Home Products Online
Advantage #1: Selection
As anyone who has shopped online knows, the selection of products available on the internet seems endless. I mean, a quick Amazon search of light fixtures results in over 60,000 items! For those who want to make sure they research all possible options, online definitely allows that.
Advantage #2: Convenience of Shopping
The second advantage to buying online is convenience of shopping. After all, online stores are open 24/7. Plus, you can shop from the comfort of your sofa while wearing your PJs!
Advantage #3: Save Money
Because staying within budget while building a custom home is a top priority, saving money is often the biggest reason our clients want to purchase home products online.
While we agree that saving several hundred dollars on light fixtures or a few thousand dollars on appliances helps the bottom-line while building, we want to make sure it is the best decision long-term.
What do we mean? Well, keep reading…
The Cons of Buying Home Products Online
Disadvantage #1: Issues with Quality
Though you can see photos and read reviews, when you buy home products online, you are essentially purchasing them sight unseen. In other words, you don’t really know the true quality of the product. For example, is the light fixture substantial or will it bend if accidentally knocked into? Do the handles on the plumbing fixtures work smoothly? What about the appliances? What do the inside components of the dishwasher really look like? The only way to be able to touch and feel products before you purchase them is to buy at a brick and mortar store.
Because the features and finishes you put in your home will be used for years, we want you to choose quality products that will withstand the normal wear and tear of everyday use.
Disadvantage #2: Lack of Customer Service
Though there are online companies who provide quality customer service, there are things you should consider before buying home products online. For example…
What if you need to return the item purchased? Is this allowed? (Some online stores, especially closeout and discounted sites, do not allow returns.) How much will it cost to return the item? Is shipping free? (Shipping bulky items can be quite expensive.)
What if the product is delivered broken or doesn’t function properly? Who will you call to receive a new one or get replacement parts? How long will it take to receive these items? Remember that, not only is staying on budget important, but building on time is also a significant consideration. If a product from a local store arrives broken or missing parts, you or your builder can drive over to them and request necessary pieces. This isn’t the case with online stores.
What if something needs to be repaired or serviced in the future? Again, you will have to call an online store to request a repair person rather than having a local vendor to ask for assistance.
Disadvantage #3: Lack of Relationship
Home builders develop professional working relationships with their vendors. Because of this, they have specific people they can call to help with problems—people who know their name and want to continue working with them in the future.
On the other hand, neither you nor your builder has any type of relationship with an online store. You are simply one of many faceless customers.
Should you buy home products online?
We’re not saying that you should never buy home products online. We are encouraging you, however, to consider more than money when making your choice. After all, picking the right home features and finishes is an important decision.
Please realize, just because your builder suggests you spend a bit more, encouraging you to purchase products through a local vendor, does not mean he is trying to weasel you out of money. On the contrary! A professional, reputable builder may suggest this because he knows that returning and/or maintaining that online product could potentially cost you much more in the long run than a few hundred dollars. Allow your home builder to share his/her expertise about which products will offer the most bang for your buck!