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Making the most of your online furnishings shopping

When online shopping, you’ll need your imagination to visualize scale and proportion, which is critical especially when shopping for items that will be used in a grouping or setting.

During the past two years, we’ve experienced the rapid growth of the digital economy and the proliferation of online shops catering to home furnishings. As the waning pandemic prompts businesses to transition into hybrid arrangements, working at home continues for many, and we find ourselves incessantly finding ways to improve the quality of our lives in our private spaces.

While online shopping has become familiar, there are still instances of hit-or-miss due to the difficulty of discerning the merchandise we see onscreen. Many online retailers have improved their sales and marketing skills on the e-commerce platform, and their way of styling a product may show its best aspects. But the intent sometimes blur into unintended visual impressions.

Textures are best observed with proper lighting. Feel the material with your eyes.

While sellers would want their products to shine, some cross over unknowingly or knowingly into representing their products the wrong way, with its less desirable aspects downplayed, diffused or simply hidden, while its more attractive characteristics highlighted in a best-foot-forward approach.

So how do you improve the online shopping experience? Have a clear understanding of what you are looking for and looking at. Here are a few tips.

Feel the material with your eyes.

Do a background check. Look for customer reviews and ratings, check comment sections, and send a random note to previous buyers to ask for endorsements or opinions. Yes, scammers still exist, and it is always best to do a check.

When choosing merchandise, size and proportions come first. Nothing could be worse than purchasing something that does not fit properly into its space, whether physically or visually. Size is not the only determinant. The mass or volume of the item plays a role on whether it appears too large or too small and inadequate for the area.

Seating is tricky to buy online. One’s affinity to chairs are hard to gauge two-dimensionally.

While you may be able to get the sizes or dimensions online, you will need to tap into your imagination to approximate the proportion of the item in relation to the rest of your space.

Validate colors. Remember those Instagram or FB images where they ask you to guess whether the shoe in the photo is blue or pink? And it could have really been both! Cameras can never be a hundred percent accurate in color rendering.

Some sellers go through the painstaking effort of color-correcting their images, but if you are doubtful, you should request for additional photos, taken in artificial lighting and in natural daylight, photographed at different angles, so you can see how light plays on the tones and hues.

Feel the material. With your eyes, that is. While touching and feeling surfaces may not be possible, observe textures through lighting. Lighting doesn’t just alter color—it can also alter texture on photos or two-dimensional images.

The devil is in the details. Check the little components of your purchase, that they are well-designed, manufactured and set in place.

Strong and intense light defines textures sharply, while diffused lighting softens textures, making them more difficult to appreciate. High-definition images are always desired, and multiple pages showing different angles help one appreciate the quality of a surface.

Don’t disregard the tiny details. These include small fixing hardware, screws, hinges and other small hardware accessories. These small details are often overlooked, as they seem insignificant in the larger scheme of things. When badly finished, odd in size or sloppily installed, they can ruin what could have been a perfectly good piece.

Check if there is an exchange policy for your online purchase. Sometimes, you’ll get the unexpected: fabric that looks soft but feels stiff, a beautiful chair that seats badly, a flashy décor piece that could never be depicted accurately in a photograph, a sofa whose seats have not been ergonomically constructed, and a few other unforeseen issues.

There are items you may need to try and test physically, so try to negotiate with the sellers on exchanges if it doesn’t work well for you. Especially when buying chairs and sofas, stability and comfort need to be validated as they function on intimate terms with your body.

Sofas should always be tested for bodily comfort and longevity.

Online shopping can become a familiar and enjoyable experience when you know what you need, know what you are looking for, and most of all, when you know how to find it!

In all its imperfections, online furnishing shopping not only saves you travel time and transport money but gives you the opportunity to efficiently browse through a multitude of options. The challenge will be to stay focused.

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The article was originally published in Inquirer.NET and written by Isabel Berenguer Asuncion.

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