Buying furniture online is challenging, to say the least. Obviously, it would be preferable to go to a storefront – check out the fabrics, colors, and textures; bounce on the mattress; sit on the sofa, and so on. Unfortunately, we don’t always have a brick-and-mortar storefront accessible. Even if we do, there’s no guarantee they have every item in stock. It’s also hard to find to find the time to shop, in between work, school, relationships, and the millions of other tiny tasks that take up our free time. Most furniture stores offer high-quality photos and product descriptions, detailing physical dimensions, materials, and instructions. To truly determine if IKEA Vs. Crate&Barrel is superior, we’ll have to dig a little deeper.
Assessing The Websites
IKEA Vs. Crate&Barrel: Homepages
Crate&Barrel offers a lot more than just furniture, making the front page a little messy, and harder to navigate. There’s clearly defined menus, to be sure, but the submenus can be a little cluttered and hard to read. IKEA’s front page is subdivided by room, as well, but without the pull-down submenus, making for a slightly cleaner, easier-to-navigate interface.
IKEA Vs. Crate&Barrel: Site Organization
Crate&Barrel’s website offers slick, clean, minimalist modern design, with each item having a thumbnail image, price, and brief description. Thumbnails are clickable, to reveal further information, including multi-angle photography, fabric details, and the ability to see furniture in multiple different colors and fabrics.
IKEA’s subsections serve as more of a homepage, with feature articles focusing on select merchandise and special deals. The sub-categories are subdivided further, like Living Room Storage items, for instance, or textiles and rugs. This makes for a more efficient browsing experience but, again, you’ll have to know what you’re looking for.
IKEA Vs. Crate&Barrel: Site Inspiration
Crate&Barrel has a section called Ideas & Advice, chock full of interior design tips, tricks, and trends. There’s tons of great content to get your inner designer inspired but, like the rest of Crate&Barrel, you’ll have to scroll through the rest of the lifestyle content to find ideas on how to decorate your first apartment.
IKEA’s Ideas section offers a similar array of interior design inspiration, in the form of useful articles and tutorials, often by big name designers. Many of IKEA’s ideas seem geared towards how to make your interior design Instagram or Pinterest-worthy, which might be a bit of a reach, for those of us in our first apartments.
IKEA Vs. Crate&Barrel: Ask The Help
Like most online retailers, Crate&Barrel has an on-site customer service representative, just waiting to field your questions or whatever concerns you might have. Crate&Barrel’s help feature is a simple text box which connects to the next available service rep. You might have to wait a moment, but at least it’s better than being put on hold – you can browse the site while you wait, and there’s no elevator muzak.
IKEA used to feature a virtual assistant, Ask Anna, an early AI character that would answer your style questions and concerns. That service seems to have stopped, however, as IKEA seems to have moved back towards a regular old FAQ to answer your questions. A bit behind the times, but still effective.
IKEA Vs. Crate&Barrel: Price And Selection
As some of the largest online furniture retailers on Earth, it’s not surprising that both IKEA and Crate&Barrel have extensive selections, where you’ll be 99.9% likely to find something you’ll fall in love with.
IKEA is well-known for having a reliable selection of old faithfuls. If you picked up a futon or a picture frame off of IKEA years ago, odds are good that it’s still in stock from the Scandinavian furniture megalith.
Crate&Barrel, on the contrary, can be a little bit better for fresher styles, as well as unique and distinctive one-offs. If you’re looking for something to make your apartment decor stand out, you might want to go with Crate&Barrel.
You’ll be paying more at Crate&Barrel than at IKEA, which isn’t entirely surprising considering how trendy and stylish they are. This means IKEA’s going to be your best bet, if you’re looking to furnish your first apartment on a budget. At the same time, Crate&Barrel a slightly better choice when quality matters, as in the case of plates, silverware, glassware. That being said, IKEA’s known for providing great quality at a budget, especially on cookware and utensils, so IKEA might be a good place to score your pots, pans, skillets, and the like.
As some of the largest and most established furniture stores in the country – both online and in real life – both IKEA and Crate&Barrel are great choices to furnish your first apartment or take on an apartment makeover. Both offer great value in their own way. Crate&Barrel tends to be a bit more expensive, offering higher quality, so if you are looking to invest in more permanent furnishings, check them out. IKEA is your best bet for furnishing on a budget, but what you get may not hold up much past your first apartment.
What other online stores do you favor? Any ordering hacks you want to share?