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Online Stores vs. In-Store Shopping: Pros and Cons

March 16, 2023

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In a world where constant change is inevitable, we often lose track of how much change has happened. Since change happens so gradually, we may sometimes forget that society evolves through time.

Take a look at the way we shop, for example. If you were to ask someone not even 20 years ago how they shop for furniture, they would have answered in-store shopping. But the answer might be different if you were to ask someone now, especially after the pandemic.

With the emergence and popularity of furniture online shopping sites in Canada, the question of which shopping method is better comes to mind. While some may have a preference for one furniture shopping scenario, both types have their own respective pros and cons.

So, what are the pros and cons of online stores vs in-store shopping, and what does this mean for your future shopping experiences? Keep on reading to find out what to look out for when shopping one way or the other.

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In This Article…

  1. Furniture Selection is Different
  2. No Salespeople or Assistance
  3. Feeling the Furniture
  4. Viewing Furniture Prices
  5. Shopping Locations
  6. Exclusive Deals
  7. Supporting Local Businesses
  8. Avoiding Sickness


1. Furniture Selection is Different

You might wonder if I shop online or in-store at the same furniture store, won’t they have the same items? Well, not necessarily.

If you were to go in person and shop for furniture, you would have access to the furniture currently on display in their showrooms. However, when shopping online, the selection can differ depending on which store you shop at.

If it were a furniture store like Mobilia, for example, it would have more selections online. Because of the rapid growth of online users shopping for items like furniture, some furniture stores have adapted and kept certain items to just their online sites. 

This allows them to showcase exclusive pieces to broaden their consumers and does not limit them to the four walls that a physical showroom has. 


2. No Salespeople for Assistance

While the selection of furniture can vary greatly online vs in-store, there are a couple of disadvantages to online furniture shopping.

Online shopping may give you the option to see reviews from past buyers. This can benefit customers because you get to see what other costumes who have purchased the product feel about it and if they recommend it. 

However, this does not replace a salesperson's physical interaction and expert advice. Talking with someone face-to-face helps clarify what each party is looking for.

Although some furniture websites offer online service chats to enhance the user's experience, there may be a communication barrier due to the lack of paralanguage. This means you lose intonations, hesitations and facial expressions that you would normally get in a regular conversation.

This can create miscommunication, and it is harder to target what salespeople or customers are trying to convey.

If you’re worried about miscommunications, perhaps shopping in person might be the best way.

Some people, however, feel as though salespeople put too much pressure on customers to purchase something they probably didn’t really need. If you feel as though you do not need the help of a salesperson, shopping online helps you shop at your own pace.


3. Feeling the Furniture

Shopping in PersonYou might also benefit from shopping in person if you need to feel how comfortable a furniture piece is before purchasing it.

When shopping for furniture in a showroom, some stores require salespeople to have customers take a sit test. This involves sitting on a furniture piece to see if it's the right fit.

Sit tests ensure that the customer will enjoy their furniture for a long period of time without worrying if the furniture is too small or too big for their body type.

When online shopping, you lose that sense of direction since you, once again, do not have a salesperson to help fit you in the right furniture size. This may not matter for individuals looking for something aesthetically pleasing to put in their house. But, it does become a bigger factor to consider if you’re looking for a good quality furniture item that will last you a long time.


4. Viewing Furniture Pieces

The furniture price can sometimes make a difference in persuading someone to buy a desired furniture piece. When shopping online, some websites can let shoppers view the prices however they want.

You can view them from high-low prices, low-high, popular items, new furniture items, and much more. 

When shopping in-store, you don’t get that same sense of organization. Sometimes showrooms can feel like a maze for some customers–with so many furniture setups scattered across a large floor asymmetrically, you might have missed pieces that would have caught your eye

Moreover, it is also more difficult to compare in-store pricing to online since the prices are visually not next to each other.  

Furniture Shopping


5. Shopping Locations

shopping onlineThis one is definitely a no-brainer, but if you’re someone who does not have easy access to a car, ride-sharing areas or public transit, you might find yourself struggling to get from one place to the next.

If that’s the case, the stress of physically going out to a furniture store can dissipate by looking at online furniture stores. 

Thanks to the internet, you can shop for furniture from the comfort of your home or virtually anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection, making it easy to explore and compare different furniture options from various online retailers.

Some furniture stores might even have exclusive deals for online buyers, allowing them to save some extra coins. 

But, it may be argued that online shopping has given users too many options. In 2018, a study from the Global Newswire showed that 42% of online shoppers abandoned their planned purchase because they couldn’t make a decision. 

This has caused something called decision paralysis, which can occur when there is too much choice and not enough persuasion.



6. Exclusive Deals

As mentioned before, some sites may give online shoppers access to exclusive furniture deals. This usually incentivizes customers to shop online, skipping the commute and physical experience altogether.

Exclusive deals aren't limited to online shopping. Brick-and-mortar stores can also offer promotions like in-store discounts and half-price deals on select items.

In-stock exclusive deals for furniture have been a strategic sale incentive for quite a while and have become increasingly more important for furniture stores since the rise of online shopping.

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7. Supporting Local Businesses

Sounds familiar, right? Perhaps you’ve heard this saying take a storm from when everyone was encouraging others to “support local businesses” during the height of the pandemic. 

This was initially used back then to help local businesses stay afloat and not lose what they had worked so hard to achieve.

Currently, supporting local businesses is still an important part of everyday life. While some may not have as strong of an online presence as bigger furniture companies. These local furniture stores mostly showcase locally handcrafted or locally sourced furniture. 

This not only helps with supporting your local business, but it also means that you’re making a more environmentally friendly choice, reducing transportation emissions and using less energy as a whole.

Some local furniture businesses in Ottawa & Kingston include Polanco, Cadieux, Ormes Furniture and Bennett’s.


8. Avoiding Sickness

While the pandemic has become less of an issue for some individuals, some people are still worried about catching COVID-19

Due to the ongoing pandemic, furniture stores and other public areas remain potential exposure sites for individuals who are immunocompromised and vulnerable to viral infections.

If you’re worried about getting sick, it might be beneficial to shop online. However, some furniture stores, like La-Z-Boy, offer scheduled appointments before store hours for people to come in while there are no other customers present.

In addition to allowing customers to experience in-store shopping, this approach also prioritizes the safety and peace of mind of more vulnerable individuals.

What's Next?

Compared to in-store shopping, online shopping is becoming a more debated subject as the years go by. While the future of shopping, in general, is building more of an online presence, do not let this stop you from choosing which shopping method is right for you.

If you’re wondering about our physical or online presence, keep browsing through our Ottawa & Kingston website, or visit us at any of our local showroom locations.

Our design consultants are always eager to lend a helping hand, so do not hesitate to ask them any questions while in-store. You may also take advantage of our complimentary interior design services to help put together your next home project professionally.

If you’re interested in our best-selling furniture, get started by checking out these articles:

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