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8 things you need to know before buying furniture online

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Photo: James Bombales, design by Lisa Canning Interiors

These days, most people will do anything to avoid crowded shopping centers and aggressive parking lot driving. We’re comfortable ordering many big-ticket items online, including king-size mattresses and brand name refrigerators, but some consumers simply can’t imagine purchasing a sofa without assuming the binge-watching position IRL (cradling a throw pillow, remote in hand, bowl of popcorn within reach).

But there are plenty of deals to be found online. Without the added cost of physical storefronts and salespeople, online furniture retailers are able to keep prices low and offer flexible return policies to put customers at ease.

If you’re wary of splurging on an area rug you’ve never dug your toes into or have made regrettable online purchases in the past, follow these best practices from experts Jaclyn Harper, Owner and Principal Stylist for Harper Designs, and Maureen Welton, VP of Design at Article, an online-only furniture startup with mid-century and scandinavian flair.

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1. Consider your lifestyle when choosing fabric







Photo: James Bombales

“Generally, I recommend a leather sofa for dogs and kids because leather is tough, easy to clean and puncture resistant,” says Welton. “But leather isn’t indestructible. The good news for your sofa and dog dilemma is that leather wears in, whereas fabrics wears out.”

If you can’t imagine taking an afternoon nap on a leather sofa (too sticky), but your three-year-old is prone to spilling apple juice (also sticky), opt for a synthetic or poly blend. “I personally find these fabrics to be more forgiving when it comes to stains and wrinkles,” notes Harper.

“If you are set on a fabric sofa, look for something with a high Martindale rating. This means it will stand up to wear and tear and look pristine for many playdates to come,” explains Welton. “High quality fabric sofas won’t pill and wear thin as quickly as lower quality sofas.”

2. Don’t be swayed by trends when it comes to investment pieces

“If you’re looking for investment pieces like a dining table or sofa, choose a neutral palette,” recommends Welton. “It will allow you the freedom to change styles without having to swap out all of your furniture to match.” If you can’t possibly live without green velvet or leopard print in your life, Welton has a solution. “Incorporate the trend of the moment into your design with accent pieces like a lounge chair, a coffee table or pillows that are less of an investment.”

3. Measure twice, order once







Photo: James Bombales, design by Harper Designs

Make friends with your measuring tape because you’re going to need it. “You should always measure your door frame, hallways and elevator — anywhere the piece has to travel to ensure it will fit. The last thing you want is to have your new piece arrive and not be able to fit through the front door,” says Welton, who knows this from experience.

While your dream sofa might look picture-perfect on Instagram, it can be difficult to determine whether or not it will work in your oddly-shaped living room. “Green painter’s tape can be really helpful for visualizing how furniture will fit into a space,” suggests Harper. “You can also cut butcher paper to size and move it around the room to figure out your layout.”

4. Get smart about space planning

“When it comes to spacing, you want to make sure that you measure to allow for at least 18 inches from the edge of your sofa to the edge of your coffee table, and also that you leave at least three feet for entryways into the space,” recommends Harper.

“If you’re shopping online for an area rug, try to leave at least 12 inches from the wall to the edge of your rug on all sides.” Another design mistake you’ll want to avoid is the floating, too-small-for-the-space area rug. “Either the front legs of your furniture should sit on the rug, or all of the legs should sit on the rug,” says Harper.

5. Hone in on keywords in product descriptions







Photo: James Bombales

Unless you’re a brilliant wordsmith, you may need access to a dictionary when reading product descriptions. “Look for keywords that show signs of quality like ‘full-aniline leather’ or ‘Pirelli webbing,’ which is a rubber support suspension used in sofas,” explains Welton. “Martindale rub-test results are also a good indicator of product quality. The rub test simulates the natural wear of the sofa so you’ll want to choose something that can withstand 25,000 rubs or more.”

Other terms to keep an eye out for? “Whenever possible, choose solid wood pieces and look for corner blocking, which is a piece of wood at a sofa’s joints to help improve structural stability,” adds Welton.

6. Scour reviews on multiple platforms

While product reviews on a retailer’s website may be helpful, you should take them with a grain of salt. “You should always do your own research before buying,” advises Welton. For a well-rounded perspective, search brand hashtags on Instagram, watch unsponsored product reviews on YouTube, or read press articles comparing brands and styles.

“When you see an unstaged photo of a piece of furniture, it gives you a more realistic expectation,” says Harper. Without professional lighting and a stylist, that headboard you were about to add to cart may look completely different.

7. Budget for shipping and potential returns







Photo: James Bombales, design by Harper Designs

“Furniture can be a big investment, so you need to factor in the shipping costs and return policy into your decision,” says Welton. “Ask yourself, ‘Is the size right for the space? Do I find it comfortable?’ but most importantly, make sure you keep the return time period top of mind so you don’t decide you no longer love it after the return policy has worn off.”

“This applies to online as well as in-person purchases,” adds Harper. “If you’re customizing a piece of furniture, quite often you’ll either have to pay a large restocking fee, which can be 20 to even 40 percent of the original price, or you’ll be unable to return it and have to sell or donate the item.”

Many online retailers have competitive return policies and low-cost shipping. “At Article, we offer a 30-day satisfaction guarantee so you can try out your new furniture in your home. If you’re not completely happy, we’ll pick it up and refund the product if you decide to return it for less than the original shipping fees,” says Welton.

8. When in doubt, contact the customer care team

“Don’t be shy about getting in touch with the retailer’s customer care team!” insists Welton. “Ask for their opinion about the sofas. Good customer care teams should be able to share thoughtful, detailed feedback on the sofa you have in mind.” As a designer, Harper says she purchases about half of the furniture pieces for her clients online. “I find you develop a relationship with the supplier over time, and then you feel more comfortable buying online.”

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Is getting an MBA worth it? How to make a decision

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Obtaining an MBA degree requires a significant amount of investment. You’re not only spending money but investing a large amount of time and effort into it.

While preparing for your MBA, it is important to critically access if the benefits of enrolling in a graduate business school outweigh the costs, according to experts. Your current financial capabilities and commitments are key factors to consider before determining whether applying for an MBA is the right choice for you.

According to experts, one great way to weigh the short-term financial benefits of an MBA is to research the average salary of recent graduates of business schools and compare that figure with the average number of student loan debt.

Of all the ranked business schools that provided salary figures in the U.S. News Best Business Schools ranking, the average starting salary among 2018 graduates from full-time MBA programs was $87,683.88. While for 2018 graduates of full-time MBA program at the ranked business schools, the average debt burden was $51,671.90.

For schools that provided both salary and debt figures, the average salary for MBA graduates was $86,253.72—167% higher than the average debt burden at those schools.

Mike Catania, the founder of the coupon website PromotionCode.org and a student in the executive MBA program at the University of California—Los Angeles Anderson School of Management, noted that one of the major reasons he chose to attend business school was a strong desire to expand his network.

“I got exactly what I wanted – access to brilliant classmates and faculty that I would never have encountered on my own,” he noted. “It’s difficult to ascribe a value to that, but I look at it as only temporarily intangible – the relationships forged over the next few years will positively affect my opportunities as an entrepreneur moving forward.”

According to a financial ROI report on MBA published by Quacquarelli Symonds—a higher education data, consulting and research company—within 10 years of earning an MBA degree, the average MBA graduates from either a U.S. or international business school had an estimated ROI of $390,751—even after deducting tuition and opportunity costs of attending an MBA program. The report also went further to show that the average decade-long ROI of an MBA graduate from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business is higher than $1 million.

While the financial benefit of an MBA degree is a huge factor to consider, experts also note that there are other non-financial factors to consider, such as if getting the degree would either facilitate career change or accelerate career advancement.

“Often candidates have a career progression in mind – ask whether people who have followed that path have been helped by an MBA,” said Mark W. Nelson, the dean of Cornell University’s Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management. “Also, consider your personal opportunities for growth. What do you want to work on? Consider how an MBA would help you develop those capabilities.”

For example, with the future of data analyticslooking bright for data scientists, getting an MBA might be what you need to boost your chances of landing a great job.

Another important thing to consider when deciding to pursue an MBA degree is your current lifestyle. It is a venture that requires serious commitments, said Catania.

“It’s just going to eat up so much of your time, and all of the (business) schools make it abundantly clear that this is on par with a job,” he adds.

Also, Nelson noted that an MBA is best suited for individuals who want to begin a major change in their career path. “An MBA is a good path when candidates are looking for a career switch or a significant career advancement,” he said.

However, Elissa Sangster, CEO of the Forté Foundation—a non-profit organization with a mission to increase the representation of women in business schools and corporate leadership positions—warns that an MBA is not necessary for every type of business career.

“You could trick yourself into thinking you need to go and pursue an MBA because, if you’re going to run a yoga studio or you’re going to … open up a car wash or run a food truck, those are all businesses,” she said.

“Getting an expensive MBA degree may not be a smart financial decision for someone who wants to run a small local business, while it could be a strategic move for someone who hopes to start or manage a large, influential corporation.”

According to Phil Strazzulla, an entrepreneur and the founder of two companies in the software sector – Select Software Reviews and NextWave Hire – who earned an MBA from Harvard Business School, he noted that while it is a chance worth taking, it is one that needs to be carefully analysed.

“Chances are, if you’re thinking about getting an MBA, you are an analytically rigorous person who’s done the analysis on whether it makes sense to pay now for future gains in salary,” he said. “And, if you go to a top school, it undoubtedly is. However, the other way I’d recommend thinking about your decision is how it’ll impact your overall happiness.”

Furthermore, SiqiMou, the co-founder and CEO of the tech-driven beauty company HelloAva who earned an MBA degree from Stanford, notes that one of the key advantages of attending a high-quality business school is that it provides exposure to a wide array of career opportunities.

“I would say the advantage of coming to one of these relatively prestigious business schools is that you have a lot of options that are open to you,” she said. “You can go back into finance or consulting types of jobs, or you can also start something yourself.”

Bachenheimer, a clinical professor of management at Pace University’s Lubin School of Business in New York City, added that an MBA provides project-based learning activities that allow students to practice solving real business problems.

“An MBA can be much more than the knowledge and skills acquired through coursework; it can truly expand you and your world,” he said.

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Comment se protéger des risques associés à l’utilisation des outils bancaires

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La technologie financière est en constante évolution. L’introduction continuelle de nouvelles options bancaires en est la preuve.

Fintech (abréviation de technologie financière) est un terme qui désigne tout type d’innovation technologique utilisée pour soutenir ou fournir des services financiers. Une telle innovation entraîne des changements importants dans le secteur financier, et donne naissance à une gamme de nouveaux modèles d’affaires, d’applications, de processus et de produits.

Si les applications financières vous permettent d’accéder facilement à vos finances personnelles, elles peuvent aussi comporter des risques allant du vol de vos renseignements bancaires, tels que votre numéro de carte de débit ou de crédit, votre nom d’utilisateur et votre numéro d’identification personnel.

C’est pourquoi il est important d’être très vigilent en partageant vos informations personnelles et bancaires en ligne. Saviez-vous qu’en fournissant vos informations bancaires ou de carte de crédit à une application financière, vous pourriez risquer de violer l’accord d’utilisation de votre institution financière?

Ce qui veut dire que, quelles que soient les caractéristiques de sécurité mises en place par une application financière, votre institution financière peut vous tenir responsable en cas de vol et d’utilisation de vos renseignements personnels à votre insu ou sans votre approbation.

Voici quelques conseils pour vous aider à protéger vos informations personnelles et bancaires, ou celles de votre carte de crédit lorsque vous utilisez les applications financières :

  • Vérifiez l’accord d’utilisation de votre banque avant de partager vos informations personnelles et bancaires, ou de carte de crédit à travers les applications financières.
  • Consultez la politique de protection contre la fraude de votre institution financière pour savoir qui est responsable de toute transaction non autorisée par vous-même .
  • Cherchez à comprendre quelles mesures de sécurité sont en place et comment vos renseignements personnels pourraient être utilisés.
  • Vérifiez régulièrement votre dossier de crédit pour voir s’il n’y a pas de demande de crédit que vous n’avez pas faite ou encore une transaction que vous n’avez pas effectuée.

Si vous soupçonnez que vos informations ont été compromises, changez immédiatement vos mots de passe. Examinez vos relevés de compte et de carte de crédit pour y détecter toutes anomalies, et signalez toute transaction suspecte à votre institution financière.

Vous pourriez aussi commander et vérifier votre dossier de crédit.

Visitez le site web de l’Agence de la consommation en matière financière du Canada pour de plus amples renseignements sur les risques associés au partage de renseignements bancaires sur des applications financières à canada.ca/argent.

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Comment agir efficacement en cas de fraude

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Chaque année, des milliers de Canadiens perdent des millions de dollars à cause de fraudeurs. Adolescents, aînés, gens d’affaires, tout le monde peut en être victime. Pourtant, seulement 5% des fraudes sont signalées aux autorités.

Si vous avez été victime de fraude, la meilleure chose à faire est de le signaler aux autorités concernées, et peu importe son ampleur. Ne vous sentez surtout pas honteux d’avoir été piégé car vous n’êtes pas seul à être tombé dans le panneau. En rapportant cette fraude, vous allez aider d’autres personnes à ne pas en être victime. De plus, dans la plupart des cas, l’institution financière ouvrira une enquête et vous remboursera l’argent perdu.

Gardez en tête que protéger vos renseignements personnels est essentiel pour éviter la fraude. Voici comment agir si vous suspectez une transaction inhabituelle dans vos comptes :

  • Changez immédiatement votre NIP et signalez la fraude à votre institution financière et au Centre antifraude du Canada. Informez-les également de toute correspondance suspecte que vous recevez au sujet de vos comptes.
  • Lorsque vous communiquez avec votre institution financière, assurez-vous d’utiliser le numéro de téléphone figurant sur votre relevé de compte ou au verso de votre carte de crédit ou de débit.
  • Si vous recevez des courriels trompeurs, vous pouvez envoyer une plainte au Centre de signalement des pourriels. Les escroqueries financières comprennent souvent des offres de vente ou des promotions de produits et services financiers, comme les régimes de retraite, les fonds de placement gérés, les conseils financiers, l’assurance et les comptes de crédit et de dépôt.

Le Bureau de la concurrence du Canada dispose d’un excellent guide appelé le Petit Livre noir de la fraude, et fournit beaucoup d’autres renseignements utiles par l’entremise du Centre antifraude du Canada.

Pour plus d’information, visitez le site web de l’Agence de la consommation en matière financière du Canada qui offre également une foule de renseignements et d’outils pour vous aider à vous protéger contre les fraudes et les escroqueries à canada.ca/argent.

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