The WWW has opened a world of opportunity for everyone to sell online. Anyone can set up a website and enter into the e-commerce world with no qualifications required. In the first instance you have no idea if you are choosing “a Man and Van” operating out of their spare room. That’s not to say that is bad way to trade– some of the best retailer services come from, or even started life in a front room or garage. The point is it is very difficult to tell if you are dealing with Mr Big or Mr Small.
Easy of navigation
Easy of use is the single most important feature for online sources for interior window shutter sites. A web site that is poorly designed or difficult to navigate is of little help to the user. A good shutter web site should display the main choices available including construction material, shutter styles, and shutter finishes. The site should be quick to load without to much of the bells and whistles.
Education about shutters is the second most important feature on any site. A good interior shutter web site should anticipate the questions you have and supply you with the information in an easy to find manner. That same site should describe all of the information about their window shutters, including exact type of material, components used in installation, fasteners and so on. . The site should not be too technical and confuse you with science but, should answer the basics and have facilities to allow you contact them and follow up your enquiry if you so wish. Use caution with shutter companies that generalize - for example advertise "hardwood shutters" but do not specify the exact type of wood. Look for quality wood such as Bass Wood. Be aware of sites that specify faux wood or economy wood as these are not as hardwearing as traditional hardwood. Look for quality wood such as Bass Wood. The site should have a reasonable gallery of pictures showing you applications similar to your own allowing you to form an idea of how shutters will look in your own home
Main concerns about buying interior window shutters online:
Loss of Human Contact.
It is all fine and well starting the purchase on line but there has to come a time when the human touch comes into play. The website should only be used to gain information, you need to meet the people behind the site. The staff who measure your windows are the face of the company – these are the people who you build trust in. There is a greater risk with a company that will not visit you – and of course the risk is then with your own measurements.
Price and add-ons
A dedicated online shutter web site should indicate what is included in the purchase without the fear of add-ons and additional costs. Some companies will start with a low SQM price to hook the interest of the client and then inflate it with extras such as – Measuring costs, Installation costs, Rail Systems, Additional Trims Required, Hinges, Locks and catches, Small Louver Sizes, Traveling costs and Colour matches. The pricing structure should be clear, simple and concise. Some of the best packages come in all inclusive offers – Guaranteeing no hidden costs and no surprises when it comes to settling your account.
Ease of installation
The windows should be measured by the companies fully trained staff and not left to chance by DIY enthusiasts. Please remember that shutters are made to measure and almost impossible to alter once made. Once measure by trained staff the shutters should then be built to make installation as easy as possible. The shutter should be completely assembled into units with all of the hardware. Each job differs in its degree of complications but the level of difficulty should be explained at the time and realistic timescales given for installation.
Quality of shutters
Several online companies make sample shutters available to potential customers to examine the construction and finish quality. This allows that person to hold a panel in the window to visualize how a complete shutter would look. This is the best way to view both the construction and finish quality. These should be full or half size panels (minimal 1 meter tall) – not something that fits in a small case and gives you no real idea of how the finished panel will look in your window. Go outside your home and look how it changes the look of your home from the outside – this is impossible with small samples.
Manufacture time and delivery
Production for custom interior window shutters is generally about 40 – 60 working days (8 – 12 weeks) depending on styles, finishes, frames, and special components requested. Quality shutters do take time to manufacture and the last thing you want to do is rush it. The company should be able to give you a general time line when you place your order. Some companies will offer or promise shutters quicker but you either pay extra unnecessary costs or the timescales are unrealistic. Compare it to ordering a new sofa or kitchen – these are also made to measure and take time.
Integrity of the shutter company
The Company should demonstrate the ability to communicate all of the necessary information to you about purchasing your interior shutters. This starts with the first telephone contact, to the engineers that come to measure your job. They should also be able to supply a list of customer comments and/or references if requested.
A quality company should supply a local phone number to allow customers to speak with a knowledgeable, experienced, friendly person who is able to answer technical questions and advise you on shutters. They should also promptly respond to all e-mail communication within a specified timescale, 24 - 48 hours is more that time enough. Remember the first contact is the start of the buying process - If they can not get this right and answer in time it will reflect on how the rest of the job will materialise.
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