You have to admit we’re lucky. Our kids will never know what life is like without the internet.
I love online shopping. Our family orders a ton of stuff online. It’s so much easier than driving to some mall or store battling crowds and wandering up and down aisles.
Moreover, while Amazon is the biggest online retailer in the world, it’s not the be all and end all for home and garden goods. There are a good number of other online stores that have incredible selection and prices. Two of my favorites are Wayfair and Overstock.
Both of these sites offer a huge number of products for the home. The number of sofas alone is mindboggling. The question is: which online store is better?
Of course it boils down to personal opinion, but there are differences. We compare both below.
I spent a lot of time comparing furniture prices among Wayfair, Overstock, Amazon Furniture, Houzz, IKEA and Hayneedle.
First off, IKEA is a furniture company unto its own. They design and make their own lines so it’s impossible to compare apples to apples. That said, I own a good amount of IKEA furniture and can say it’s not bad overall for the money. The stuff doesn’t cost that much, looks good and sometimes it lasts; other times it doesn’t. You get what you pay for.
As for the other sites prices fluctuate daily. They really do. One day Houzz may have the best deal, the next day Wayfair or Hayneedle has the best deal. They all offer sales, deals, blowouts etc. so you never know which website has a particular item at the lowest price.
What should you do to get the lowest price? When you’ve settled on a home decor item or piece of furniture (or any sizeable purchase for that matter), search on all sites to see which is offering the best deal and buy it that way.
Now, let’s go into the specifics for each company including my opinion as to their website usability.
Year founded: 2002
Founders names: Niraj Shah and Steve Conine
How it started: Niraj Shah and Steve Conine launched Wayfair as a two-person business in August 2002 right at Conine’s nursery located in Boston. Originally, the name of the store was CSN Stores, from the initials of the two founders. They first sold storage furniture and media stands before becoming suppliers of garden and patio goods a year later.
- Current CEO: Niraj Shah
- Headquarters location: 4 Copley Place, Boston, Massachusetts, US
- Countries it services: United States, Canada, Ireland, United Kingdom, and Germany
- Year went public: 2002
- Stock symbol: W
- Product lines: Furniture for kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms, outdoor, and baby and kids, Rugs, Home Appliances, Décor and Pillows, Storage, and Lighting,
- Pricing: Affordable with discounts and deals daily
- Shipping policy: The company offers free shipping for all orders that go over $49, which is applicable in the continental United States. For shipping to other places and orders below $49, the flat rate is $4.99. Look for items with the free shipping label to take advantage of the offer. To keep the charges down, Wayfair will ship an item for free or charge the shipping fee for every single product. All costs will be displayed on the shopping cart page and will include ground shipping (applicable only for orders within the contiguous US). The store promises not to have handling fees and any hidden charges.
- Website quality for finding stuff: Easy searching with the help of search bars on the home page. Products are grouped according to their departments, such as kitchen and tabletop, appliances, and storage and organization
- Return policy: Refund within 30 days of delivery except for clearance items if they are not defective or damaged. Credit cards cannot be returned as well as personalized and bundled items. Some are marked as non-returnable, which means customers cannot return and get a refund. Customers can get a refund in store credit form or through the original payment used.
- Warranties: Most furniture pieces and other products have at least one year warranty. All details regarding the warranty of an item are available on the page.
- Level of product detail provided on website: Detailed with a few photos and description, along with the pricing, promotions, and shipping information.
- Approximate number of products for sale: More than seven million products.
- Approximate number of brands available: More than 8,000 suppliers.
- Other online stores it owns: Joss & Main, DwellStudio, Birch Lane, and AllModern.
- Approximate number of monthly searches for “Wayfair” in the USA: 4,370,000 | Global: 6,000,000
Pros: Thousands of brand-name furniture items to choose from, with seasonal sales and daily sales that can give up to 70% discount, free shipping, offers a rewards program and advice.
Cons: Some customers complain the items do not match the pictures in the product page, refunds do not include shipping fees, buying furniture requires the customer to assemble it on their own.
Wayfair Website experience
Wayfair is my favorite furniture and home goods website from a navigation and research perspective. I love the design, speed and how everything is organized. I also like the individual product pages with the scrolling details on the site and all the filter options to hone my searches. The Wayfair website is a big reason it’s so successful.
Year founded: 1997
Founder name: Patrick M. Byrne
How it started: Patrick M. Byrne founded Overstock.com and launched it two years later. Initially, the online site sold returned and surplus merchandise from other online businesses for a fraction of the original price. It grew and now sells furniture, home décor, and other new and close-out items.
- Current CEO: Jonathan Johnson
- Headquarters location: Midvale, Utah, United States
- Countries it services: United States, European countries, including France, Germany, Portugal, and Norway, Asia Pacific countries such as Australia, Georgia, Pakistan, and Japan, Middle East and African countries
- Year went public: 2002
- Stock symbol: OSTK
- Product lines: Furniture, Rugs, Bed and Bath, Décor, Kitchen, Jewelry, Outdoor, Apparel, Kids and Babies, and More
- Pricing: Some items have best price guarantees. Sales and promos are widely available.
- Shipping policy: Standard free shipping is for US orders that go over $45. Exceptions apply to Hawaii and Alaska. Canada shipping is free for orders beyond CAD 59. Expedited shipping on almost all items is offered. The store provides international shipping to more than 200 countries in the world. Standard free shipping is provided on all orders that cost more than $45 to the US except Hawaii and Alaska. International orders are not included in this promotion. Items are typically shipped within one to two days.
- Website quality for finding stuff: Keyword search is easy on the home page where customers can also find a categorized view of the products available on the site.
- Return policy: New and unopened items will be given a full refund if returned within 30 days upon delivery. Some items are marked non-returnable and products returned after 30 days will only receive partial refunds.
- Warranties: Jewelry comes with a lifetime warranty if found with manufacturer defects. Others have warranties ranging from one to five years depending on the product. The details are supplied within the product page.
- Level of product detail provided on website: Detailed with helpful information and translation of the specifications of the items. Also features available colors, promos, and the ability to share the product to social media sites.
- Approximate number of products for sale: Over 63,000 non-BMMG and more than 720,000 BMMG (Books, Music, Movies, and Interactive Games) items.
- Approximate number of brands available: More than 220 brands, along with independent or private name organizations.
- Approximate number of monthly searches for “Overstock” in the USA: 1,970,000 | Global: 2,000,000
Pros: Affordable pricing on most items, with discounts and sales, allows Bitcoin, ships to several other countries in the world.
Cons: Poor customer service based on some customer reviews, international shipping issues, changes in prices stated in the description.
Overstock Website Experience
Actually, the Overstock website is very good. It is well organized, loads fast and offers all kinds of filters to hone my search. While the product details are below the image, it’s easy to find. While I don’t like the design quite as much as Wayfair, it’s a good site overall.
Year founded: 1943
Founder name: Ingvar Kamprad
How it started: IKEA was first a mail-order sales company and the first store was in Småland, Sweden. After five years since its inception, IKEA started to sell furniture. The company was a huge success, and it expanded to other parts of Europe in the early 1970s.
- Current CEO: Jesper Brodin
- Headquarters location: Leiden, Netherlands
- Countries it services: US, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Austria, Singapore, Netherlands, Spain, Iceland, France, Saudi Arabia, Belgium, Kuwait, United Kingdom, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, UAE, Slovakia, Taiwan, Finland, Malaysia, China, Russia, Israel, Greece, Portugal, Turkey, Romania, Cyprus, Ireland, Dominican Republic, Bulgaria, Thailand, Macau, Lithuania, Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, Croatia, Indonesia, South Korea, Morocco, Serbia, India, Latvia, and Bahrain
- Year went public: IKEA is a private company.
- Stock symbol: N/A
- Product lines: Homeware and ready to assemble fixtures
- Pricing: IKEA prices their products with nine as the last number ($3.99, $199, $2,599.99, etc.). The idea behind it is that the price, such as $14.99 is more attractive than $15. People tend to read from left to right, and they typically put more thought or emphasis on the left numbers than the ones on the right. It means that when the customers see, for instance, $4.99, it is just $4 and not $5. There are also regular price discounts on the website.
- Shipping policy: A flat rate of $9 is applied to all small item deliveries for homes and businesses, while $39 shipping fee is for large items. In-store deliveries cost $59 and up.
- Website quality for finding stuff: Easy and fast search at the top right corner of the homepage. Just type the product on the search bar and hit ENTER or click the magnifying glass. If the item is not found, suggestions will appear.
- Return policy: Returns are honored even if it is because the customer changed his/her mind. Products should be returned within 365 days, along with the proof of purchase to get a full refund.
- Warranties: Most products come with a limited warranty that lasts for a few years and begins from the day of the purchase.
- Level of product detail provided on the website: Product pages are quite detailed and come with a description, size, quantity, a few images, store locations, package details, and ratings of other buyers
- Approximate number of products for sale: 12,000
- Approximate number of brands available: IKEA only
- Approximate number of monthly searches for “IKEA” in the USA: 5,500,000 | Global: 39,000,000
Pros: Affordable and easy to build furniture pieces, with minimalist style
Cons: Some shoppers think the IKEA items have short lifespan and assembly is always needed for every product.
IKEA Website Experience
First off, the IKEA stores are not my favorite places to go. I know they’re designed to suck visitors into a never ending maze of products and showrooms, but that prolongs visits unnecessarily.
Second, the website needs updating. It’s very cluttered and busy. Yes, there is much to display, but it could use some work.
On the plus side, and this is the most important aspect of IKEA, and that is they offer great value for the money. They sell stylish home furnishings and decor for not much money. Yes, some items aren’t terribly durable, but some of their stuff is excellent. Moreover, it all looks good – the design is amazing at all price points.
4. Amazon Home & Garden
Website: Amazon Home & Garden
Year founded: 1994
Founder name: Jeff Bezos
How it started: Jeff Bezos left his vice-president post and moved to Seattle in 1994 where he worked on an online business. Initially, it was called Cadabra, Inc., but he later changed it to Amazon.com, Inc. During that time, Bezos could already see the growth of internet commerce, and he listed five products that he thought would become bestsellers online. In 1995, Amazon.com worked as an online bookstore and began printing books as well in 1999. The same year, Amazon ventured into selling other items and popularized online shopping.
- Current CEO: Jeff Bezos
- Headquarters location: Seattle, Washington, US
- Countries it services: Worldwide
- Year went public: 1995
- Stock symbol: AMZN
- Product lines: Amazon Echo, Amazon Appstore, Amazon Prime, Amazon Kindle, ComiXology, Amazon Video
- Pricing: Affordable with great deals, some furniture pieces may differ in prices than others posted on the website depending on the seller
- Shipping policy: Furniture is under the category “Large and Bulky,” so the pieces sold will not qualify for the Amazon Prime free two-day shipping. However, shipping is still free of charge. Rates vary based on the country where the item will be shipped. The seller may also add a fee for the delivery. All costs will be displayed on the checkout page.
- Website quality for finding stuff: Easy navigating and searching with important categories to look for the right items. The user can enter a keyword, brand name, or browse through the collections on the homepage.
- Return policy: Most items qualify for a return and refund as long as they are in unused and unopened. They should also be returned within 30 days of delivery. Refunds are generally awarded within two to three weeks.
- Warranties: Items received as defective or damaged will get a replacement of the same item. Customers who want to exchange the product into another can trade it for another color, size, or another thing.
- Level of product detail provided on the website: Some items include plenty of useful information while others have missing descriptions.
- Approximate number of products for sale: Over 562,000,000 as of January 2018
- Approximate number of brands available: Over 688,000
- Other online stores it owns: A9.com, Lab126, Shelfari, Whole Foods Market, Brilliance Audio, CreateSpace, Goodreads, ComiXology, Audible.com, Twitch, and Junglee.
- Approximate number of monthly searches for “Amazon” in the USA: 99,000,000 | Global: 280,000,000
Pros: Prime membership offers second-day free delivery, pickup delivery in some countries, package returns, and a vast selection of products.
Cons: clumsy website UI, international distribution is based on the courier, sometimes search results are messy and unrelated to what you are searching for.
Amazon Website Experience
We’re Prime members. It’s hard to beat Amazon’s convenience for buying a lot of things. However, there is so much there and some of it is badly categorized that I end up having to spend more time than I like looking for the right products sometimes. Often the search results are not very good.
Another problem is some of the merchants aren’t very reliable. Shipping delays are our biggest problem and as Prime members, we count on items to ship when promised.
On the balance, we’re not dropping our Prime membership because it really is a good deal given we buy a lot of stuff from Amazon every month.
With respect to furniture, I prefer Wayfair overall for both research and website experience.
5. Houzz Shop
Website: Houzz Shop
Year founded: 2009
Founders names: Adi Tatarko and Alon Cohen
How it started: Adi Tatarko and Alon Cohen were working on a remodeling project when they decided to launch Houzz in February 2009. The two were having a hard time communicating their plans to professionals regarding what they wanted their home to look like. It was when they created Houzz as a side project, which later resulted in other homeowners requesting for more categories on the website. Soon enough, it officially became a company in 2010.
- Current CEO: Adi Tatarko
- Headquarters location: Palo Alto, California, USA
- Countries it services: Worldwide
- Year went public: Houzz is a private company.
- Stock symbol: N/A
- Product lines: Home décor, bath, kitchen and dining, bedroom, living room furniture
- Pricing: Local and independent sellers can put up their products on Houzz, but the website reserves the right to approve or decline the price offer. The Sale badge appears on some products, which means that its original cost is cut to benefit the customers for a limited time. Some products may have their prices marked “At Other Retailer” and “Was.”
- Shipping policy: Sellers source, fulfill, and ship the products that the customers order on Houzz. The website itself uses flat-rate shipping that can either be per order or item. Some products are shipped for free, but most cost a small fee depending on the seller. If an item is marked Sold by Houzz and the order is more than $49 in total, the shipping fee is waived.
- Website quality for finding stuff: Easy, fast, and convenient for new and old users
- Return policy: Customers who are unhappy with their purchase can return the package within 30 days after delivery to get a refund. It is, however, required that the product remains in its original condition and should be returned in the same packaging.
- Warranties: All items purchased at Houzz come with a warranty. Most items can be returned within 30 days to get a full refund. If the goods are damaged or defective, they can be returned, and the customer will not have to pay for the shipping costs. It is also required to return it within 30 days after the item has been delivered.
- Level of product detail provided on the website: All products have descriptions, but some lack few pieces of information
- Approximate number of products for sale: Over nine million
- Approximate number of brands available: 1.5 million local businesses
- Other online stores it owns: N/A
- Approximate number of monthly searches for “Houzz” in the USA: 911,000 | Global: 1,000,000
Pros: Helpful guides so homeowners can get ideas on how to design their houses, buy furniture and other items directly from Houzz, free browsing on contractor profiles, has idea boards and lots of pictures for inspiration.
Cons: Difficulty in returning most products, leaving an honest review is restricted and based on a few rules since Houzz often disapproves negative ratings.
Houzz Website Experience:
I love Houzz. Always have. It started as a content only site and only in the last couple of years launched it’s online store. It’s a huge store and as far as I can tell is doing well.
It’s product search features is second-to-none. The site loads fast. The product selection is amazing. It’s right up there with Wayfair. In fact, I’ve found things on Houzz not found elsewhere.
Overall, Houzz is a must-check site for any furniture and decor purchases.
Year founded: 2002
Founder name: Doug Nielsen, Mark Hasebroock, Julie Mahloch
How it started: The three founders purchased Hammocks.com, which was an online store owned by a llama farmer. After a few years, the company expanded with more online stores in which they had one specific type of product. In 2005, the company changed its name to NetShops, and a year later, more properties were added. It was in 2009 when it was rebranded as Hayneedle and focused on selling items for kitchens, pets, lighting, and home improvement.
- Current CEO: Scott Doughman
- Headquarters location: Omaha, Nebraska, US
- Countries it services: The United States and Canada, ships internationally
- Year went public: N/A
- Stock symbol: N/A
- Product lines: Furniture, décor, kitchen, bed and bath, lighting, pet supplies, electronics
- Pricing: Hayneedle aims to provide affordable products. Customers are encouraged to compare the company’s prices to other retail stores, such as Wayfair, Pottery Barn, and Overstock and they will match the cost of the item if it is lower than the one offered at Hayneedle.
- Shipping policy: Free shipping on all orders exceeding $49; otherwise, a flat rate is applied, which is $4.99. The company ships to Canada but not all items are applicable. For international shipping, the delivery dates will be provided directly at the product page.
- Website quality for finding stuff: Searches are easy right at the top of the homepage. Typing on the search bar will give the user suggestions to finish the keywords. Search terms can be anything from the exact name of the product to something as descriptive as “bar stool with arms” or “pink braided oval area rug.” When the search results are shown, the user can filter them by customer reviews, brand name, and price.
- Return policy: Returning a product you do not like should be easy. Talk to their customer service hotline first to understand the process. Most items are eligible for return provided that you send them back within 30 days from the delivery date. To view if the product is returnable, go to your account and order page. If there is a link for Return/Exchange next to the order, you may be able to return it for a refund. Check the details on the same page to determine what you can do to get your money back.
- Warranties: Most items have warranties and are eligible for a refund. The company may pay for the shipping costs, depending on the reason why the customer is returning the product. Refunds are not allowed because the buyer changed his or her mind.
- Level of product detail provided on the website: Product details are thorough with an often lengthy description, list of inclusions (if any), information about the brand, reviews, and technical facts
- Approximate number of products for sale: More than 2,200 product categories and over one million products
- Approximate number of brands available: Over 3,000 brands
- Approximate number of monthly searches for “Hayneedle” in the USA: 354,000 | Global: 358,000
Pros: Gives good deals, with several product lines, offers guides and inspirations, rewards for loyal customers. The biggest pro is product selection – they offer some fabulous items not found elsewhere.
Cons: Website looks boring, complaints about the quality of the products and customer support.
Hayneedle Website Experience
I don’t like how I get bombarded with sign boxes. The site is slower than Wayfair and Houzz. However, and this is big, Hayneedle offers some really nice furniture not found elsewhere. When I have a bigger budget and want something nice, I check out Hayneedle because they have some amazing items.