Stoneside.com Semi-custom Window Treatments and in-home Services; A 'Cool Window Covering Experience'?
Review and Comparison with Three Leading Competitors
Stoneside.com was founded in 2009 by principle investor and CEO Mickey A. Fain, founder of the Colorado CEO Forum in the year 2000. The 'CCF' is an organization that educates and assists business owners and top officers in the interest of promoting successful business practices. The CCF is currently concentrating especially on recovery in our current economy. Begun with only 85 participants, the event is held annually and now boasts over 500 members from across the Rocky Mountain area.
Stoneside.com is an online window treatment business which aims to meet the needs of consumers, from those with smaller budgets to those who have 'sky's the limit' budgets. The choices in window treatments at Stoneside vary widely, with more than 750 different material and fabric options. Their tagline is "A cool window covering experience", and the website and service options are designed to create just that for the consumer. Customer reviews have reflected that Stoneside is true to their slogan.
Decorative options include choices of hems, trims, rods, pulls, and decorative finials. Motorized shades, once completely out of reach to the average consumer, are still pricey here, but much less so than they have been in the past, or with many other vendors. With such a wide array of choices and simple, inexpensive, measure and install options for the consumer, Stoneside.com has made quite an impact in the e-commerce window treatment industry in it's relatively short time in business.
Stoneside.com is set up so that the prospective customer can have a local designer come to their home with samples from the available products, and work with them to create the look and feel that the client most desires. The measure and install option is extremely reasonably priced, at $149.00. It includes an accurate measure of each window, and installation of all window treatments, whether the customer buys just one, or dozens. There is an additional charge for windows that require ladders, or treatments that must be installed into masonry or other unusual circumstance. This is standard in the business, so is not viewed as 'hidden charges'. In any case, these extra costs are also quite reasonable. Only $64 is required up front, for the measure itself. At the time of installation, the additional $85 is paid.
Stoneside.com has 35 locations at time of publication, each one covering approximately a thirty to fifty mile radius. Of course, there are still many areas where personal in-home design is not yet an option, but in those cases, personal consultations are always available through the 1-877-340-0158 customer service line, or live chat. One can easily check availability of design and installation services in their area by entering their zip code in the search box provided. When there is more than one option, you can choose for yourself who to invite into your home. If no choice shows up for your area yet, call them, and they will do their best to connect you with a dependable local installer.
Each of Stoneside.com's certified installers and designers are already experienced in their field. They are interviewed, hired, and trained by Stoneside, including ongoing training in new products, designs, and trends. This is extremely important, as the terminology, options, features, and benefits of window treatment can be quite confusing. Someone who is not completely familiar with all facets of the product line and trends in the industry will be much less likely to be competent in recommending the best solutions and options for the client.
Satisfaction with both products and installation is 100% guaranteed for 30 days, to give the customer a chance to live with the products and their functionality. The guarantee on each product line is a 'limited lifetime warranty', fairly standard with most custom window treatments.
Available window treatments at Stoneside.com
- ROLLER SHADES: 186 fabric choices, from traditional to trendy
- SOLAR SHADES: 130 available material choices, and in addition to their regular selection, Stoneside also offers 'Greenguard' certified solar shades, which have lower chemical outgassing than similar products that do not have Greenguard certification
- PLEATED SHADES: 94 fabrics
- ROMAN SHADES: 150 fabrics for the traditional roman shades, and 130 for the solar type
- CELLULAR SHADES: 8 different 'families' of shades with different characteristics and tons of color and fabric choices
- TRANSITION SHADES: 20 light filtering fabrics, 10 pleated, and 10 fire retardant choices, a truly unique window shade with many layering and privacy options
- WOOD BLINDS: Quality basswood in your choice of many colors, with crown valance and trapezoid bottom standard (normally an upcharge for these features)
- FAUX WOOD BLINDS: The look of a classic wood blind, but more durable and resistant to heat and water, crown valance and trapezoid bottom rail standard (no upcharge here, either)
- VERTICAL BLINDS: 248 material options, including 'sunscreen' verticals
- COMMERCIAL BLINDS: Available in all the choices but basswood, the commercial collection generally has more fire retardant choices and 'heavy duty' mechanisms, to withstand years of use in commercial settings.
Each of the window treatments have numerous combinations of colors, features, and options. The Stoneside.com shopper can 'build' their own window treatments online using computerized tools very similar to (but much more user friendly than) those used in the brick-and-mortar shops. As the customer adds or subtracts options, or changes style or fabric, the pricing reflects the changes immediately, so it is clear how much each change affects the cost of the item.
Using the online chat feature proved to be quick and simple, even on Sunday, when 'live chat' is often unavailable. The person with whom I chatted was polite and extremely helpful. The window popped up quickly, the respondent was available immediately, and there was an 'email' option to instantly email the chat so that you can refer to it at any time.
Ground shipping from Stoneside.com is only $10 for any sized order, $20 for 2nd day air. Taxes are charged based on shipping destination, and those fortunate enough to live near the Denver, Colorado plant can pick theirs up at no charge...although ten dollars is a paltry sum to have several large items brought right to your door.
Breaking it Down; Why would a consumer choose Stoneside.com over it's online competitors?
These are just some of the numerous advantages of shopping with Stoneside.com:
- Unsurpassed customer service: They focus on customizing and personalizing the experience for the customer, with all aspects of customer service and product quality viewed as high priority.
- Support your local economy: By choosing Stoneside, you also support your local businesses who do the design and installation.
- Selection: Has an absolutely huge selection of fabrics, designs, and options.
- Price: Very competitive, the online pricing is similar to those you will find in the 'big-box' stores when placing a special order.
- Shipping: Only $10 for ground shipping for the entire order
- Military discount: An absolutely great feature, Stoneside offers an unheard of 25% off to our folks in the military.
- Convenience: The Stoneside.com 3-step process encourages the customer to 1)browse the site, 2)set up a meeting for their free design service 3) Let them take care of all the details
- Made in the U.S.A., Stoneside's very own products are manufactured in Denver Colorado and quickly shipped to the customer.
Best Available Stoneside Coupon:
Comparing Stoneside.com with two online popular window treatment competitors
Since I have gone in depth about Stoneside.com already, I will list just a few of their great attributes, and some opportunities for improvement, without again going into detail.
Following that you will find information and comparisons for two rival online window treatment companies, smithandnoble.com, and Blinds.com.
- Made in the USA, in Denver, Colorado
- Custom made to exact specs by their own company, there is no middle man to drive up costs and delay lead time
- Largest selection of window treatment choices and best installation prices
- Does not offer draperies
- Currently Stoneside's measure / install / free in-home design option, though rapidly expanding, currently leaves some geographical areas out.
- Does not yet offer 'sliding panels', a choice that has been growing in popularity recently
Smith and Noble (smithandnoble.com)
Smithandnoble.com is a serious contender in the online window treatment arena. Offering hundreds of choices, from simple roller shades to opulent draperies, they have an excellent selection of products from which to choose.
Established in 1987, smithandnoble.com is a division of Cornerstone Brands. Cornerstone is a multi-million dollar collection of brands that are generally viewed as upscale and high quality, such as Travelsmith, HSN, Frontgate, Grandin Road, Improvements, and Ballard Designs. Cornerstone Brands and their business model have won numerous awards in the past several years, including 'retailer and e-tailer of the year' awards, and 'top place to work'.
The prospective customer can have a consultation and measure done for no up-front cost, and no obligation to purchase. The measurements remain strictly the property of smithandnoble.com, not for the customers eyes. This is standard practice in the custom home furnishings industry. This 'proprietary information' policy is intended to protect the company from repeatedly squandering valuable resources on customers who may just be taking advantage of the 'free measure and consultation' offer, never intending to purchase the product from Smith and Noble. This practice indirectly protects customers as well, by helping to maintain a lower bottom line. Even though the initial consultation and measure are free for the customer, smithandnoble.com must, of course, still pay the employees who perform the services.
Though the prices here can be viewed as exhorbitant for many items, they also have some budget-priced selections. Smithandnoble.com aims to serve everyone, with every level of budget, but on average the cost of the window treatments here are higher than similar products at Stoneside.com, and many other competitors. For the consumer who is looking for a more affluent or opulent look and feel, and has the budget to comfortably do so, this may be the right choice.
Smithandnoble.com also sells and installs shutters, which are the only add-on window treatments that actually add value to the home. Sometimes viewed as 'old fashioned', shutters are becoming more popular, largely because of the investment aspect, but also for the look, light and privacy control, and versatility.
The shipping and handling charges for this company are, without a doubt, the highest among the competitors featured here. At $12.95 per item, with the exception of shutters (Extra $34.95 each), curtain rods over 72" ($50 each), any item over 105" long incurs an additional shipping charge of $25, and there are additional charges for shipment to Hawaii and Alaska, and next day, or two day shipping.
- Most upscale options, and even an additional selection for 'kids rooms'
- offers draperies, curtains, and shuttersin addition to blinds and shades
- In business for over 20 years
- Highest prices, on average, of the three competitors
- Highest shipping of the three, by far
- An less than stellar track record with customer service issues relative to their competitors
This company boasts of selling 'twice as many blinds as our closest competitor', with 4200 blinds being created online by customers each day. Their site provides access to over 12,000 reviews and videos. Unlike many business sites, they are brave enough to let the negative reviews remain. The 'surefit guarantee' helps to instill customer confidence by replacing up to four blinds per household if needed, at no charge to the customer, on all products showing the 'surefit guarantee' emblem (the majority of offerings). With more than 75 how-to videos available to watch, the average D.I.Y. customer should have no problem with either measuring, or installing, their chosen window treatment.
Live chat and detailed online measuring guidance, along with their 'online blind finder' tool make it fairly simple for the less experienced window treatment shopper to make good choices for their specific needs. The site is easy to navigate, and one can shop by brand, feature, room, or purpose in addition to treatment type.
Blinds.com carries many major manufacturers lines, such as Bali, Laura Ashley, Graber, and Levolor. They also offer their own brand, made by these same companies, but with lower prices. An offer of a 30-day price match for any identical item found at a lower price ensures that consumers get the lowest possible pricing on comparable goods.
The service here is not as personalized as Stoneside.com, or even smithandnoble.com, but the wide array of offerings, average lower prices, and online guidance make this company an excellent choice for the consumer with a tighter budget. In fact, 61% of their business is repeat customers, so it is apparent that blinds.com is good at keeping the customer, and keeping the customer satisfied.
- Has the absolutely amazing 'Window Shopper' app for iphone
- Offers shutters and draperies as well as blids and shades
- Unique alternatives section (Bali Diffusion Glass Acrylic Blinds)
- Does not offer personal, in home design service
- Does not offer installation service
- Definite lack of personal customer service as compared to the other competitors featured
Each of these three companies often feature discounts and promos on their websites. Additional Blinds.com coupon and promo codes, smithandnoble.com coupons and promo codes, and Stoneside.com coupons and promo codes can be easily found, when available, by simply doing internet searches.
Comparative pricing; Stoneside.com and two top competitors
Stoneside.com's pricing compares quite favorably, on average, with smith.noble.com, but quite a bit more, on average, than Blinds.com. The highly personalized in-home service combined with competitive pricing place Stoneside.com ahead of smithandnoble.com. in customer satisfaction ratings. Blinds.com has much lower pricing, but the comparative lack of personal service can end up costing a consumer more than expected, if the shopper does not thoroughly understand the products and options available to them.
For instance, if energy efficiency is highly important to a consumer, they may, without assistance from a knowledgeable consultant or designer, choose a fauxwood blind or roller shade, when they would be much better advised to purchase cellular or solar shades. The savings in the short term in this situation can be marked, but the energy cost savings in the longer term would be much higher with a cellular or solar window treatment. If customers are not fully informed of all the features and benefits of the various products, it is very likely that the choices they make will be be less appropriate, and possibly disappointing.
In each comparison below, the most similar and economical choices were used for examples. Basic colors were chosen, with no upgrades. You will find when shopping all the window treatments that the prices vary widely, based on many factors, and when one item is exceptionally high, or low, it may not represent the pricing throughout the company. The following are two of the most often purchased items and sizes.
Blinds.com 2" fauxwood blind
Blinds.com single-cell cellular shade
- lowest price
- 36"W X 48"H
- $36. + free shipping (always free on items less than 94" wide, excluding shutters)
- 7 colors available
- Lowest price
- 36'W X 48"H
- $71 + free shipping
- 9 colors
smithandnoble.com 2" fauxwood blind
smithandnoble.com single cell cellular shade
- higher price
- 36"W X 48"H
- $96 + $12.95 shipping (per item)
- 4 colors available
- highest price
- 36" X 48"W
- $127 + $12.95 shipping (each item)
- 45 colors
Stoneside.com 2" fauxwood blind
Stoneside.com single cell cellular shade
- highest price
- 36"W X 48"H
- $96.80 + $10 shipping (per entire order)
- 11 colors available (the most of all 3)
- 36"W X 48"H
- $108 + $10 shipping (entire order)
- 20 colors available in this economy style
Stoneside Promotion Code:
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With Denver, Colorado based Parallel Path as online marketing partner, and the business savvy of Mickey Fain, the continued success of Stoneside.com is virtually insured. The unique combination of personal design service, installation, and excellent customer service make Stoneside.com a winner. Customer reviews regarding Stoneside found on several websites were unanimously favorable.
A great experience with Stoneside
I needed new window coverings for our home and decided to give Stoneside a try. One of their designers came to my home, showed their products and help me select the right blinds and shades for our house. An installer showed up, just as promised, and measured everything to make sure we got the order exactly right. My designer then helped me place the order. Two weeks later the installer showed up and installed everything. My blinds and shades look great, we saved a bunch of money, and the whole process was easy.
Blinds arrived earlier than expected. Very well packaged in two boxes for three sets of blinds. They were easy to get out of the package and we were able to install them with two of us. We have one very wide window, so it took a person holding each end for us to do it. For the narrower windows, I was able to install them without help.They look and work great. Our room is much warmer now, and we love the up/down option so that we can see the sky and let in light, but nobody can see in. The inside color looks warm and interesting and the outside white doesn't clash with the exterior decor.The only negative thing is that they decided to be cheap about the instructions. They put all the instructions for all the different styles of blinds on one sheet with a strange "if this, then go here..." flow to it all, with poor visual cues. This is pretty confusing, and means there aren't enough diagrams and they aren't big enough. If they made one sheet just for the blinds we ordered, that would have helped a great deal.
Below, you will find links to pages that I reference in the preceding text.
Best Available Stoneside Coupon: