Buying online is growing rapidly. I buy many things online myself, but there are some things I would never buy online, especially big ticket items like furniture. Here are several things to think about if you are considering buying office furniture online:
1) Freight. Heavy items like office furniture will almost always have to ship motor carrier ( tractor and trailer freight). Its usually too big or heavy for UPS. Most motor carriers require a loading dock and most drivers will not unload your product.
2) Damages. Most manufacturers and distributors ship FOB factory. This means you take ownership when the freight company picks it up. Any damages in transit are between you and the freight company. Good luck on filing any freight claims.
3) Assembly. Most furniture these days requires some type of assembly, some more than others. It’s not rocket science, but it’s not as easy as many think either. Besides, what is your time and back worth?
4) Quality. We’ve all heard the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, but with today’s technology, it’s easy to enhance online pictures to make something more attractive than it is in real life. Unless you are buying something you have seen and used before, you really can’t tell how well something is made without touching and seeing it.
5) Commercial Grade. Places like Ikea and Pottery Barn offer visually appealing furniture options, but it is mostly residential grade. It won’t hold up as long as commercial grade furniture. File drawers usually have plastic rollers whereas commercial grade file drawers have steel suspension arms. Once you load your file drawer , it can be quite difficult to open with cheap plastic rollers.
A common assumption from most buyers is that one will always spend less money when purchasing used office furniture. Sometimes this is true, but more often than not, it isn’t. There are many variables to consider if you are considering used office furniture for your space:
1) Used office furniture is just that…..used. Some will look better than others, but it WILL look used. There is really no such thing as new looking used office furniture. This is most apparent in upholstered goods like chairs and sofas which show wear and staining more so than desks.
2) Color selection is very limited. If you have a certain color palette in mind, used will prove to be very frustrating, as what you see is what you get. There are no color choices in used furniture.
3) Size and configuration limitations. Same deal as color….what you see is what you get. If you need left return desks, I may only have right return desks at the moment. If you want a 10ft conference table, I may only have 8 ft and 12 ft at the moment.
4) Hodgepodge. Getting 3-4 or more of anything in used that is the same style and color is a real challenge. When we do get in a large grouping that all matches, it will usually bring a higher price because it is in high demand.
5) Adding to it later. If you expand and want to outfit more space later, the odds are slim to none that you will be able to match up to your original used purchase.
6) Contemporary look. If you want your look to be current with a today’s look, then used may not work. Keep in mind that used is what the look was in years past. The open and collaborative look with low panels that allow for more open spaces is very hot now, but it has not translated to the used market yet. Used always is yesterdays look, and always will be.
7) Pricing. Used at most dealers is approximately half of what the item would have sold for new….so the higher end the item was new , the more it will usually cost used. Most dealers do not keep low end furniture in used inventory, it rarely holds up well the second time around. I have access to new product that often prices out for less dollars than some used furniture, and is still contract grade quality. If spending the least dollars is your objective, then let me show you how new can maybe be more cost effective than new.
Chairs are a lot like shoes. You have to “try them on” to make sure they are comfortable and sit well. Also, like shoes, there is a wide range in cost. One can get a designer knock off shoe at Payless for a lot less money than the real deal, but everyone knows the knock off will not hold up, as it is made of inferior materials and is mass produced and poorly constructed. Its the same thing with office chairs. One can buy the least expensive chair they see, but chances are they will be replacing it in less than 2 years, if not sooner. One of the biggest differences in a “cheap ” chair and a decent quality chair is the foam. Bargain chairs have very low quality foam that will break down to foam crumbs quickly, leaving you sitting on the frame of the chair. Another difference is how much steel, and what grade of steel is used. Try picking up a cheap chair, then pick up a decent quality chair. You will notice a huge difference in weight. I could list many other differences, but the bottom line is you truly get what you pay for.