Online Fabric Stores: Fabric Shopping With Trust

Buying fabric from online fabric stores is one of the smartest ways for budget-conscious home decorators to make their home decor dollars go further. But with scores of these online stores and little information available to assess them, fabric store shoppers would do well to shop with a few precautions in mind. Here are a few things to look for:

1. Fabric Stores You Can Trust - Look For "Buttons"

You get to the website and what do you see? Fancy pictures, pretty layout, enticing sales language? These make for a good sales job, not necessarily a good online fabric store. Instead of style, first look for buttons- the security buttons that tell you it's a website you can trust. Is there a Verisign, an Authorize or a "Secured By Thawte" button clearly displayed on the front page? If the store has one of those, you'll know that the shopping cart is secure. Does it carry the Hackersafe emblem? Hackersafe is a monitoring service that makes sure your personal data is protected against online theives.

2. Policies

Does that online fabric store want to help you or just help themselves to your money? Look on the front page again. Is the privacy policy clearly stated so that you know your personal information won't be abused? Many so-called fabric review websites may not even offer reviews of fabric stores, but just lists of advertised links. If they're soliciting something and want your name or email address, you'll definitely want to read their policy statements before offering up any information.

3. What's In a Name

Anyone can sell seconds or knock-off fabrics, stores do it all the time. But only authorized dealers can consistently carry top fabric names like Waverly, Covington and P. Kaufmann. These brands only sell to authorized dealers, and since dealers have to satisfactorilly represent them, those dealers must sell in part on reputation. The bottom line: Avoid fabric stores that traffic primarily in no-name fabrics. You won't know what you're getting or what the store really stands for.

4. Watch Your Email

Fabric stores like to stay in touch with their customers and email newsletters are a great way to follow sales and promotions. But as one of the better known fabric websites discovered (and subsequently warned their visitors about), criminals are more than willing to impersonate reputable businesses via email. While online fabric store shoppers are no more vulnerable to online dangers than any other kind of shopper, as a good consumer, you'll want to keep an eye on what arrives in your email's in-box.

Online fabric stores are overwhelmingly honest, trustworthy sources for purchasing fabric and fabric-related supplies. But in the world of online commerce, it's wise to be prepared. Armed with a little extra consumer savvy, you'll not only make shopping safer, but with more confidence in the process, you'll enjoy the experience that much more.

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