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acmnick

Would you buy your cabinets online?

acmnick
12 years ago

Hello. I am a kitchen designer attempting to stay a little ahead of the game. We are looking at current kitchen market conditions, and formulating an aggressive marketing approach for next year. I know most of the kitchenweb message posters are highly educated in the kitchen renovation process by the time you are ready to buy your kitchen.

My question is this: Would you buy from an online source? We are considering investing in a web site that will feature all of our semi-custom cabinetry online. Many times, the pricing matrix of cabinetry can be misleading to customers, and they can become highly frustrated with the kitchen buying process in general. The more information we can communicate to our customers, the better our relationship. More and more products are being sourced across the net. Would you buy online?

Comments (22)

  • jra2127
    12 years ago

    I bought ours online. We were leery at first but then went for it. I think what sold us was the website. We had a hard time with kitchen designers because they would tell us what we needed and with my husband being a DIY engineer he needed to figure out want we really needed. The website let us look at the prices of every cabinet and the prices of each upgrade. We liked that we could see the prices and determine what we could splurge on and what we could do without. Since then I have recommended the website to relatives how also purchased their cabinets online.

  • acmnick
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    jra2127,
    That is my thought exactly. Could I ask which website you purchased from? I am glad to hear it turned out ok.

  • jra2127
    12 years ago

    I think that the biggest problem with these cabinets is lack of word-of-mouth promotion. They are really good cabinets for the money, problem is you just can't google them and find any reviews.

    Good luck

    Here is a link that might be useful: woodcraft cabinets

  • bethv
    12 years ago

    I also bought my cabinets on line and would definitely do it again. But I also was able to see the cabinets live in person and I don't think I would have chosen a brand that I couldn't go see somewhere - or order a door. I really liked that everything was very transparent. We could easily see what was available and what everything cost. That way we could do our own trade offs. They had PDFs of brochures showing the different styles and how the trims worked into different designs. That was very nice.

    We chose Kabinart from MKFUSA and looked at many sites. The discount pricing was a little confusing at MFKUSA but many of the other sites were worse. Scherrs (sp?) priced by the square foot - so it would have been hard to do trading off with their system.

    Some people seem to want no design help & others want some. If you do a tiered service to include design, I'd have the costs for each very clear.

    Good luck!

  • busybme
    12 years ago

    As we are beginning our research, the web is pretty much my main source of info. It allows me to put general numbers together, educate myself on styles and options, and check out feedback and reviews on the various companies.

    When it is decision time for us, we would absolutely order from an online vendor if all indicators point to a cabinet company that provides a quality product with a proven track record of satisfied customers.

  • igloochic
    12 years ago

    Well let me give you a perspective from two sides of the coin.

    First, I'm doing a very high end kitchen in our home. I wouldn't even consider ordering major purchases over the internet. I want to see the quality in person. Little tiny details like edge details, finish issues, etc., can't really be seen correctly on the internet. I also want the support of a KD who I can find in person when it turns out that there are issues with doors, changes in the order, dents and dings, etc. I expect I'm paying for that and I expect to get that.

    Now, I'm also doing a corporate rental. It has to be a very nice home, including high end appliances etc, but for the cabinets, I'm reusing some of what we have here and adding others to fill in the new design. Would I buy those online? Sure...but the price would have to be competitive, even more than competitive, given that you have no support if you have issues.

  • beachbum
    12 years ago

    Well because I'm guessing you were looking for all types of opinions....
    I would not order online. I just don't feel that comfortable in my own abilities. If I knew the computer wouldn't let me screw up (assuming I put in correct measurements) then that would change things for me a bit.

    I would absolutely use the website, and get all the way to the "submit order" part. But then I would want to talk to a person, hand them my design and have them tell me it looked ok.

  • 2katz4me
    12 years ago

    I would not and here's why. In my opinion product and service quality in general these days is not that great. The likelihood that you'd receive flawless, problem free cabinets is slim. I purchased very high quality custom cabinets and there were still a few things that needed to be addressed; i.e. returned and redone. I personally do not have time to deal with follow up on quality problems. I value the service I pay for to have a live human being who can do that for me. If I didn't work during the business day (and didn't have that income to pay add'l for good in person service) I might feel differently.

    On the other hand I so alot of "shopping" on the internet. Inexpensive, low risk, easy to return items I buy on-line. More expensive things I research online and then go to a bricks and mortar store to purchase - where I can also return if I have a problem. An online cabinet research and selection tool I would use - as long as I could then go to a local outlet to see the product and the people that stand behind it.

  • pharaoh
    12 years ago

    Absolutely! I prefer to buy things online. Convenience, choice, information, great PRICE.

    For buying kitchen cabinets, I would first buy a full cabinet sample. Then make my decision based on that. If I like the build quality, finish, and price, I would order the entire kitchen online.

  • caryscott
    12 years ago

    I know of one company here in Canada where they are a high end custom shop who are selling knock down product under another name. I didn't go this way and I would have ordered a sample cabinet before considering it but it was a viable option. I think a really easy to operate website would be essential - one where you could look and pick your boxes and then select your face elements (doors, drawers etc.). With this particular company (Enseka - I think) I found selecting the boxes easy though I didn't think they provided very clear specs on the product (grade of flakeboard, basic construction and standard hardware were often buried or absent). Being able to go to one spot to get that info is really helpful as is not restricting what kind of cabinet construction I have to get in order to get the door style or finish I want (too many places do this). being able to mix and match would also be great - maybe I want premium drawer hardware and just regular cabs - why shouldn't I be able to order my 12x30 upper and choose the quality of the cab, door style, door material and finish per item? A pull down for each element would be great. Just a thought.

  • Buehl
    12 years ago

    I echo IglooChic & Gibby3000. I would definitely not buy cabinets online. Unlike IglooChic & Gibby3000, though, I went with semi-custom.

    Research...most definitely. Any site that had a comprehensive list of available cabinets, including all configurations and all possible accessories (like cutlery trays, bread boxes, etc.) would have a leg up on the competition...it wouldn't outweigh quality, but all other things being even, it would definitely put that site/line at the top of the list.

    I want to know all my options...not just what my KD chooses to show/tell me. There were many options that I have since found out about that if I had known about I may have chosen...which, btw, would probably have increased my cabinet cost (should be a positive for KD!) but only b/c I could see what all options are available.

    One other thing, I'm not sure all KDs really know what's available in every line they sell....e.g., I asked about Toekick drawers and my KD said my cabinet line didn't do them and that we'd have to find a carpenter willing to modify our cabinets to include them....I have since found out my cabinet line does indeed do Toekick drawers... So, I think a comprehensive online site would not only help consumers, but also KDs!

    There also would have to be a showroom within reasonable driving distance for me to see the cabinets in-person...with as many door styles/cab type/woods/finishes as possible!


    If you do go w/an online site, then think about this from the consumer's POV:

    • Make it easy to navigate & find things
      • have a good search engine and good/large set of keywords to search on
      • have good navigation...intuitive lists, etc....usually a tree hierarchy works best with these types of items

    Make it comprehensive...not just drawer bases available...show pictures of the configuration of each drawer base
    Include all types of cabinets...frameless, face frame (size of frame), inset, beaded inset, full overlay, partial overlay,...
    Include all measurements available...external and internal (e.g., clear opening size, depth, etc.)
    Include all door styles w/descriptions (raised panel, veneer, style & rail frame, etc.)
    Include all offered/available

    • wood species
    • stains
    • paints
    • glazes
    • gloss level (high, low, satin, matte, etc.)
    • wood/stain combinations
    • stain/glaze combinations

    Show all accessories...cutlery/utensil inserts, knife inserts, baskets, special pullouts (pot&pan, tray, etc.), organizers, etc.
    Do you offer filler pullouts? Sizes? Types? Base/Upper?
    Special architectural pieces...range hoods, turned legs, etc.
    Include a description of all levels of workmanship. How cabinets are built, types of joins, drawers, wood used, sizes of wood, etc. Also, if, for exmple, you offer both semi-custom & custom, what are the differences b/w them?
    Include all sizes available or, if custom, any constraints on sizes, configurations, etc....although if it's truly custom there shouldn't be any! Even...

  • ci_lantro
    12 years ago

    Yes--for all the reasons that Pharoh gave plus a couple of others. For me, it would be much less stressful--I guess that would come from having access to all the information and not have to do the make an appointment song & dance and waiting for prices to be quoted from the super secret price list. Another reason--after seeing some of the KD royal screw ups documented on this forum--I'm just not willing to pay a premium price for a design service/ inflated cabinet costs and then have to deal with their screw ups and the fight (lots more stress) to get it right. So, what I'm saying is that I'm willing to own my mistakes but that I'm not willing to pay the fees of adopting someone else's mistakes with my project.

  • ci_lantro
    12 years ago

    I neglected to mention that you don't have to look any farther than the success story of Ikea to see that a lot of cabinetry customers are not enamored with the way the (big name cabinet business) business model has evolved.

  • live_wire_oak
    12 years ago

    I am a KD who reps several semi custom lines and can't imagine ever convincing someone to buy a kitchen online. Especially custom or semi custom. There are just too many variables that exist. My Kraftmaid spec book is an inch and a half thick and my "average" kitchen orders run to a dozen pages (or more). If you count in the ways (and the reasons!)that cabinets can be modified (custom depth, custom extended stiles, prepped for glass 50 different glass choices, 5 different ways of finishing off a cabinet side, modified toekick, and dozens more!) then it would really be impossible for any non pro consumer to truly create a successful kitchen. And that assumes that they have correct measurements and a good idea of what they'd like to see. THere are just too many individual choices that only a pro knows about, or knows the "tricks" to.

    Now, for a simple stock cabinet line that doesn't offer many options at all, maybe I would buy cabinets from that for a rental or basement or the like. But for any home that I want to have a functional and quality investment in that I expect to last 10 years or more, I'd want to be able to see and feel in person, as well as be sure I'd have an experienced team measuring and designing my workroom. It's even more important in small kitchens than large ones, because those are the ones that inches are precious in and a designer who reads the spec book can create something useful, where stock cabinetry and an inexperienced homeowner would have a lot of wasted space.

  • acmnick
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    All:
    I truely appreciate the thoughts and comments posted concerning this topic. I know quite a few of you must have taken quite a bit of time to write your responses, and I appreciate it. It really has brought a large range of ideas and elements which I feel could help me build a successful site. Naturally, buying online isn't for everyone, and sometimes different budget levels will dictate where you shop.

    Your thoughts seem to match the sentiment I have towards a site like this. I know my customers feel sometimes like a deer in headlights. I believe I do a good job of listening to my customers, and communicating to them what their options are. Truth is, money is sooooo tight right now, that noone wants to make a bad investment, and EVERYONE is educated and leary of second-tier contractors and KD's who really don't know what they're doing.

    I appreciate your thoughts, and hope to see this move forward in the coming weeks.

  • kmgard
    12 years ago

    I'm a little late, but I thought I'd respond since I'm actually looking into this right now. We will probably only be in our home another two years, so our main concern with our cosmetic updates is resale. We want something that looks nice but is affordable. It doesn't need to be over-the-top custom, but there are definitely certain things I want while we're still living there and it should be a "wow" factor of the house.

    I came across an old post from this forum which led me to the MKFUSA website mentioned in an above post. I spent all weekend coming up with a design I think will really work for us, but unless I want to spend $100, MKFUSA won't look at my design and give me input. The $100 is refundable of course if I buy cabinets from them, but at this point I'm so confused on the pricing that I have no idea what they would cost or if it's worth it to send in my design.

    The bottom line for me? Yes, I think there are plenty of people out there in my position who would buy online IF:
    -Great color photos (in the form of downloadable/printable PDFs) were available to show door styles, paint/stain colors, specs, and showroom kitchen examples
    -The pricing, including shipping, was straightforward and easy to understand
    -Contact information was readily available for questions/concerns
    -Some type of design consultation/review, even at a charge so you're not constantly wasting your time, so that once my order is placed, I can feel confident I've ordered all the pieces I need
    -Door samples could be ordered and then shipped back, free of charge, for a refund of whatever you charged to send them (in other words, price should include shipping so everybody wins-- obviously you would need to limit how many could be sent at a time and work out other kinks...)
    -Ideally-- and this is something you might not do right away but could consider adding down the line-- there would be some type of simplified kitchen design sofware on the website where people could set up a room of their size, and then basically drag and drop windows, outlets, cabinets, etc... to get a 3-d view of what their design might look like. I'm decent at doing scale drawings of mine, but I have to assume I'm doing it right. Software that shows what we're drawing right from your site would be ideal!

    It's like you said-- times are tight right now, and I feel a little crazy for even spending money on a remodel right now, but we have the cash and are ready to go. In fact, I'm not sure if our budget would fit with your cabinets, but if you want a "guinea pig," just let me know! Good luck with your business!

  • annemarieko
    12 years ago

    I've been looking into this for a week and am going crazy. I love every one of kmgards suggestions, but even if they were all available, I'd still be nervous about such a large investment. I can't find any reviews of these companies by actual consumers, and suspect some of the recommendations I do see are from people getting a kickback from the cabinet company. My husband is threatening to make his own cabinets, and after waiting nearly 30 years for a kitchen remodel, I'd be rushing to buy the RTAs if I knew that I was dealing with a trustworthy company - saving 20-30 percent would be well worth it. I probably wouldn't buy the Kraftmaid Venicia that I really want because the likelihood of a smudge or paint defect with at least one door seems greater than with wood cabinets, and I wouldn't want the hassle. Many of these companies don't seem to have a BBB report. I want to know how many complaints a company has had and if most have been resolved (buycabinets.com's record seems pretty good). I don't know what the process is if there's an issue normally, but cabinets purchased online would have to be opened immediately, measured, checked for any defect, etc. I'd like 2 weeks to do that, and to see some testimonials from people both on the company's site and in forums like this to be reassured.

  • bob_cville
    12 years ago

    Anne,

    I ordered the cabinets for my kitchen remodel online from the company Scherr's Custom Cabinets in North Dakota. I was really pleased with the quality of the construction of the cabinets, and with how easy the cabinet boxes were to assemble; by the end, the cabinets were taking 15-20 minutes to assemble.

    The company was great to work with, both before they started building the cabinets as I changed the details several times, and after the cabinets were made and shipped; to answer questions, or solve a problem that I discovered.

    I received the cabinets in late March, but didn't get the rest of the remodel ready to install them until early June, at which time I discovered that the holes drilled for the drawer slides were spaced incorrectly. They were supposed to have been drilled for Blum 430E drawer slides, and were instead drilled for Accuride slides. I contacted the company explaining the problem, and received a response the same day apologizing and promising to find a solution.

    You are right to be suspect of recommendations on the internet, there's another post on the forum where someone bought a RTA cabinet based on a recommendation she found from someone presenting themself as a remodeler or a contractor, when it appears that they are actually the head of the RTA cabinet company. Which I think is kinda slimey. However I have no relationship with the company Scherr's except as a satisfied former customer.

    Good luck,
    -Bob

  • ponderosapine
    12 years ago

    Buycabinets.com laid off all of its employees 12/12.

  • empty_kitchen
    12 years ago

    only purchase using a credit card if consider this and
    do not order from thedirectcabinetsource.com.

  • James T
    5 years ago

    These cabinets are good http://www.amazon.com/

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