Buying online is a terrific boon to shoppers because it lowers prices, cuts out sales tax, and offers a much more expansive selection. Purchasing retractable awnings online offers the same thing: prices are about 35% lower than buying from a brick-and-mortar store, it is easy to purchase custom widths and projections, and online stores offer more fabric colors and frame styles.
There is one big impediment to buying a retractable awning online: What is it going to look like when it comes in? Not seeing the style in person is a drawback, but not significantly different from seeing a picture on a box in the store. Good retractable awning companies have taken a few steps to offset that risk:
o Picture galleries. One easy trick is to look through the Galleries of photos for homes similar to your own, and get a sampling of how the different awning styles look. Many retractable awning companies also include visual fabric swatches and other samples that can make it easier to coordinate color and style with any home, commercial building, or trailer.
o Drafts or renderings. This is a more difficult feature to find, but is invaluable to help in finding the retractable awning you want. A few retractable awning companies may take pictures and create images of your home with the selected awning style. Some even offer online software tools that use exterior photos of your home to create 3D renderings with the selected style, and can even change the fabric selection, valance style, trim color or awning style.
o Mailed samples. Good companies will mail actual retractable awning fabric and trim (piping) samples if you request it so you can have a clear idea of the color and quality before you buy.
Know What You're Looking For
With shopping, it is rare to have a perfect idea of what you're looking for, but it can help if you know what constitutes a quality retractable awning, so you can search for the right company:
o Solution-dyed acrylic fabric, which is breathable, looks good on both sides of the awning, and does not fade, crack, or mildew.
o Aluminum frames, preferably powder-coated, because they're lightweight, rustproof, and extremely durable.
o Stainless steel assembly bolts, nuts, and other hardware, which are rustproof and will not stain the fabric.
o TÜV, Eurolab, and Istedil engineering certificates, so they're thoroughly tested.
o Options like motors, sensors, pitch adjustment, timers, and remote controls.
o Most importantly, Kevlar® straps in the arms; Kevlar® (the same material used for bullet-proof vests) is stronger than steel and, unlike steel, is rust proof.
Buying a retractable awning online is like buying anything else online; there are certain ways to make sure that you select an honest, easy to work with company:
o Take advantage of the ability to browse. Online offers huge advantages in simple browsing: you can compare manufacturers, prices, and styles, look up customer reviews, and see different features and service options between companies.
o Get their number. One pitfall of online business is online help; a company may have an email address or online live chat, but there's no way to get a live person if you have a problem. Not every company is like that, though, and a good retractable awning company will have a direct contact number available on their site.
o shop strictly. It's standard practice, but any ecommerce site should have SSL (encrypted) connections and security features to protect your personal information.
o Check the shipping. Some less than respectable companies have good prices, but they have hidden costs: exorbitant shipping, delays in order response time, or out of stock items. Make sure that the retractable awning company is actually able to fulfill your order, and that they are not padding the shipping and packaging expenses.
o Check their packaging. Any retractable awning should be shipped in pre-formed, paperboard crating, an excellent, strong alternative to cardboard and tubes, which are problematic for shipping long, narrow objects.
o Look for warranties. The company should guarantee the condition and quality of its product. A good awning company will guarantee the awning fabric for 5 years (with the thread and seams guaranteed against teething or separating for the lifetime of the fabric). The frame should be guaranteed for a minimum of 25 years.
o Listen to customer testimonials. Ask for feedback that previous customers have given. Trustworthy awning companies have records that they brag about – no returned products and high rates of returning customers and customer referrals.
Buying retractable awnings online offers shoppers a lot of benefits: prices 35% lower than traditional stores, no sales tax, wider selection of styles, fabrics, and options, and easily-obtained custom sizes. With a little foreknowledge, shopping for a retractable awning online can be a much more enjoyable, low-key, and satisfactory experience, especially compared to the limits of a local store.