I got spoiled during the pandemic. Yes, I know, we all had much to complain about ─ the cabin fever, the anxiety surrounding every cough and hot flash ─ but inconveniences aside, the online shopping was epic.

For someone who grew up when the only thing delivered to your door was the occasional pizza, the ability to order everything from groceries to glamping gear online and have it show up at your door, sometimes in a matter of hours, was positively life changing.

While the pandemic transformed shopping forever, consumers also learned that just because you can order about anything online doesn’t mean you should.

When buying something for your home, where feel, color, scent or comfort matter, you will be better off getting your duff off the sofa and into a store ─ unless you’re familiar with the product already. For example, if you like a friend’s toaster and want to order the same one online, go for it. But if the item falls into any of the following categories or can’t be returned, think twice before buying it online.

Mattresses: You really need to experience something as personal and expensive as a mattress before you buy it. I purchased my mattress after having a particularly wonderful night’s sleep in a nice hotel. I pulled up the sheets, took a picture of the label and went in search.

Pillows: Bed-pillow preferences are also personal, and you can’t rely on descriptions. One seller’s soft and fluffy may be another’s firm and dense. Feeling is believing.

Flatware: Considering that most people buy flatware only once or twice in their lives, this is not a choice to make on the fly. You need to handle it, feel its weight and balance. (Spoiler alert: Join me next week when I talk to a U.S. flatware manufacturer that sells flatware online, but only after you try samples at home.)

Large appliances: Before you plunk big money down on a big appliance — a refrigerator, washer, dryer or dishwasher — experience it in person. Open and close the door. Get a sense of how the moving parts work, and whether the surface finish shows fingerprints.

Upholstered furniture: When comfort is king, as it is with a sofa, don’t make a decision solely on a picture. When ordering my sectional, I sat on a sample of the sofa in a store and felt and sat on different kinds of fill. I ordered fabric swatches to test, and, …read more

Source:: The Mercury News


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