There are a lot of advantages when buying products online and in-store, but as with anything, there are some disadvantages too, especially when it comes to buying furniture from an online retailer that doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar location. Are you looking to make some upgrades around the house but don’t know if you should order your new digs online or buy in-store? No worries!

Here’s a list of pros and cons to help you determine how you should shop online and when you should just saddle up and go to the store.

The Pros of Shopping Online

  • PRO: Time saver. Going to purchase something in-store requires that you get up, get ready and drive to the store. There’s the amount of driving time it takes to get to the store, the amount of time it takes to find parking, and if you have kids, the amount of time it takes to corral them and get them decent for a shopping trip. And doesn’t it seem that when you’re in hurry, the line to check out is a mile long?!
  • PRO: You’ll know what’s in stock. When you shop online, retail companies like clothing, furniture and lighting stores will tell you on the item’s specific page if it’s in stock. You won’t know if the wall mirror you’re planning on buying in the store is in stock until you ask a clerk who checks the back and tells you (after what seems like hours) that they’re out of stock.
  • PRO: No closing time. You can shop online for your favorite things 24/7. Seller websites don’t have a “closing time,” and you can shop anytime, from anywhere and on any device.

The Cons of Shopping Online

  • CON: Paying shipping fees. Despite saving on gas money when you shop online, you still end up paying extra to get what you’ve ordered delivered to you. What’s more, shipping costs are often estimated on the size and weight of the product and this can make what should have been a fairly inexpensive accessory cost more than it is worth.
  • CON: Don’t touch this! As an online buyer, you can’t hold, smell or test out the product before purchase. This can mean that the $700 sofa you ordered from West Elm looks more like a $200 futon from IKEA. And guess what, if you want to return the order, you could be the one responsible for the return shipping costs. To be safe, read the specific site’s return policy before buying anything online.
  • CON: The wait time. While the one-time click-to-order feature has proven to be pretty awesome, it’s not gratifying. Picking up a new shirt or chair from the store gives you INSTANT gratification, and that feels wonderful!

The Pros of Shopping In-Store

  • PRO: Instant gratification. This first one is probably obvious given the last con of online shopping. When you buy a product in-store, you get to leave the store with the product in hand; there are no delivery estimates or wait times!
  • PRO: No-hassle returns. If you end up not liking what you’ve purchased, it breaks or isn’t what was promised, you can return it for back for a refund the same day.
  • PRO: Gets you out and about. Human beings are social creatures by nature and need mental stimulation to live a positive life. Visiting a mall or shopping center puts you in the thick of it all and challenges your social and behavioral interactions for the better.

The Cons of Shopping In-Store

  • CON: Item isn’t in stock. How many times have you gone to grab a size medium only to find the rack empty? How many times have you asked a sales associate if there were any in the back and without looking told you there wasn’t any? When you shop online you will be told immediately if the item you are looking for is out of stock and can usually place a backorder to have the item shipped when it’s back in stock.
  • CON: Inexperienced sales team. If you have ever worked retail, you know that the training provided is paltry at best. Unseasoned sales staff become easily flustered and shy away from helping customers they’re worried might be a little too extreme. When you can’t find help in-store, it makes for a poor shopping experience.
  • CON: Running into people you know. As terrible as this might sound, sometimes you just want to get in and out of the store without having to do a whole stop and chat. Going shopping in-store on the weekends increases your chances of running into acquaintances and work colleagues full force.

Want to find a way to get the best of both worlds? Shop at stores that offer online and in-store product purchases. Order something online you didn’t like, return it in-store. Do they not have the item you wanted? Order it online. A store that does both offers the best of both worlds.

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