Fireplace and Hearth Shoppers Jump into the 21st Century Thanks to Online Retailers Like eFireplaceStore.com
Shopping online is an idea that’s here to stay. There are still plenty of businesses that most people don’t associate with internet retail, but fireplace and hearth shoppers are taking notice as shopping for essential home appliances like gas logs, fireplaces, and heaters gets simpler and more refined via the web.
Memphis, TN (PRWEB) December 7, 2010
Most people thinking about buying a fireplace or other hearth products couldn’t even tell you where their local fireplace store is located. What most of them feel confident about, though, is their ability to spend two minutes on the internet and find a number of websites devoted exclusively to the sale of fireplaces, gas logs, and related items. The ability to save the time, fuel expense, and general hassle of locating a reputable home heating store is one of the factors that’s really driving fireplace and hearth customers to the web. Throw in the huge selection a fireplace website can offer when compared to the local specialty store or even a “big box” retailer, and it starts to become clear why more and more people are at least considering shopping for home appliances online.
Selection is meaningless, though, if buyers aren’t sure that they can successfully find and purchase exactly what they need in a virtual setting. That’s where technology is catching up with the fireplace industry. The best modern fireplace websites have really stepped up the precision and accuracy of choosing the right fireplace from home. Filters based on venting needs, space considerations, style preferences, and particular brands make sifting through fireplaces and stoves pretty simple. Some sites even have tools that totally take the guesswork out of this potentially tricky process (check out the picture to the right or click this gas log calculator to try the process yourself). All the homeowner has to do is input basic fireplace requirements like size, fuel type, and venting requirements and the website automatically responds with every compatible size and style of gas log, which can then be filtered according to customer preferences.
Top performing fireplace websites like eFireplaceStore.com even employ certified fireplace specialists and have customer service personnel trained to provide assistance that, in many cases, is superior to service provided in a physical store. eFireplaceStore.com’s fireplace specialist George Grady recently made the switch from face-to-face customer service to answering fireplace consumer questions online. It’s a steadily growing trend and, in Grady’s opinion, online shopping is the only way to go. “You can find everything you want online,” he states, “and at a great price. From the comfort of home you can find the products you’re looking for, research them, and have everything sent right to you without running all over town looking for one item.”
“Saving time and money is on nearly everyone’s mind these days,” Grady continues, “and people shopping for fireplaces are no different. Our customers tell us all the time that the selection is more comprehensive, side-by-side comparison is easier, and prices are consistently lower online. Shoppers aren’t limited to what their local stores happen to have in stock, and we [chimney and fireplace professionals] are now able to answer customer questions or make recommendations on our website without adding pressure to buy. We’ll even talk directly to their contractor about any issues or concerns they may have about a product or installation. I think people who haven’t shopped for fireplaces online would be shocked how easy it is. I’d be surprised if the internet isn’t the place most customers prefer to shop for heating appliances in the near future.”
Aside from available professional guidance and easier purchasing, the simple act of having a bulky appliance delivered to their door is another factor influencing buyers’ behavior in the fireplace industry. Some fireplace stores deliver and some don’t, but in almost every case an internet fireplace retailer takes on the responsibility of getting the product safely to its destination. Not only that, but the majority of fireplace websites include the cost of shipping an appliance in its advertised price, creating an even greater value. For fireplace and hearth customers who don’t live near a fireplace store or who don’t have the means to transport something like a stove or heater, shopping online can be the ideal solution.
The book on the fireplace industry in recent years has been that value for time and money spent is on internet retailers’ side of the business. What has changed recently is that top-to-bottom customer service and a crystal-clear shopping and purchasing process have been added to those expected financial rewards. The inevitable result is that, like many other businesses-turned-websites, online fireplace sellers are attracting more customers than ever. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t any room for brick-and-mortar fireplace businesses, but it does indicate a real shift in consumer thinking that sends an increasing number of fireplace and hearth customers to internet retailers every day.
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