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June 16, 2010 | Posted By: Jonathan Bentz
Anyone who's ever set out on a home improvement task knows that shopping for the stuff needed online is NEVER easy.
Blame overwhelming online stores, or sites that offer free products in exchange for subscriptions to 13 crappy magazines, or eBay bidders who have faster internet browsers that beat your "winning" bid with 30 seconds to go. It seems no matter where you shop online for home improvement products, nothing is as easy online as strolling into a store, asking the clerk who knows as much about the product you need as YOU do for help, aimlessly wandering about the store for 30 minutes and then...
buying it yourself.
Have no fear, however, faithful online home improvement web shoppers - things are starting to get better for you. For starters, many online stores are now submitting their product feeds to places like Google Shopping, wikis like ShopWiki, and shopping social networks like The Find. These networks and sites make shopping online for products much easier for online shoppers.
Massive network sites like these aren't the only things making it easier for shoppers. In addition to having trusted networks to submit their products to, online stores are getting much better about maintaining stock of products they sell very well thanks to improved analytics programs.
Below are five things many people were once afraid to buy online, for a variety of reasons, during a home improvement project. But now, thanks to technology improvements, quality online resources, niche stores with low prices and availability, and access to tons of consumer reviews, home improvement DIYers you can now shop and buy these products with confidence on the tubes.
Cupolas are great to add to the roof of a house, barn, garage, or shed because they improve air ventilation and add to the visual appeal of a building at the same time. However, because of the knowledge most people need to purchase a cupola (building size, roof pitch, etc.), it hasn't been a very popular product to buy on the internet. Now, with sizing diagrams, roof pitch calculators, and wholesale prices available online, buying cupolas can be an easy and rewarding process.
2. Luxury Appliances
Buying luxury appliances online has always been a risky proposition online. Some luxury appliance dealers offered serious disounts online that seemed "too good to be true"... and they were. Also, many banner ads promising free luxury appliances were misleading, forcing consumers looking for discounted appliances to fill out forms for tons of other products to get access to their product of interest. Thanks to consumer education and increased access to luxury appliances, products like Sub-Zero refrigerators can now be researched and purchased online with legitimate rebate programs. Plus, if there is a company scamming consumers, there are plenty of watchdog websites out there to call out the fake special.
3. Repair Guide
Without the right repair guide, first time home improvers are often at a disadvantage. Consumer product reviews and bloggers who review products have made buying repair guides online easier because potential buyers can read about a guide and get honest feedback BEFORE they buy it. Before web 2.0 tools were added to many shopping websites, too many people had to buy repair guides online by simply judging the book "by its cover." Not the case anymore.
Browsing different flooring options was once tough online because every thumbnail image was presented in something like 160 pixels! Also, the lack of interactive online space planners made it really tough to buy the exact square footage consumers with custom floor spaces required. Thanks to the development of web 2.0 tools like interactive interior space planners and the improvement of web speed and image hosting - finding the right flooring for a home in the convenience of a home has bever been easier.
5. Green Home Products
Once a niche market both online and off, the green market has grown extensively over the last several years due to increased public interest in the environment. In addition to the increased interest, an influx of websites into the online marketplace for green products continues to drive the price of these products down. Because of the abundance of green online stores, there has likely never been a better time to buy green online.
Guest Blogger Jonathan Bentz is a marketing consultant who works with several companies in the home improvement sector. As a first time homeowner, he is quickly learning the value in finding the best things to buy online... and what to buy offline instead. Some of the companies he works with include a New England luxury appliance showroom and a Pennsylvania-based home decor retailer.
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