Should you buy IKEA on Amazon? Depends where you live.

IKEA furniture is available on Amazon and many items are even eligible for free 2-day shipping through Amazon Prime. However, that does not mean that the furniture will be cheaper. 

Frank Augstein/AP/File
The IKEA furniture store in Duisburg, western Germany. IKEA furniture is available on Amazon, but that does not mean that the furniture will be cheaper.

Much of IKEA's inventory is available to buy on Amazon, and a lot of it is even eligible for free 2-day shipping via Amazon Prime. This seems like an incredible find at first glance, but is it actually a bargain?

The answer: It depends on whether or not you live near an IKEA store. 

That conclusion was a lot harder to arrive at than it should have been, though, and I'm going to walk you through how this all breaks down.

Who is actually selling this stuff?

The first thing to understand is that while these are genuine IKEA brand items, they are not being sold on Amazon by IKEA. Here's an actual Amazon listing for a 20-pc IKEA flatware set. I'm going to use this product listing as an example throughout this post.

In this case, you'd be buying this IKEA Flatware Set from a store called Windows 101. This is important because it explains why the pricing is so strange. Which brings me to my next point.

IKEA brand items are much priced higher at Amazon.

In fact, they're generally not even close. Let's look at our flatware set again.

A list price of $29.99 seems really high for IKEA, no? But it's only $13.99, and free shipping with Prime, and that seems a lot more reasonable.

But wait, that same flatware set sells on IKEA's website for $7.99.

Not only is that $29.99 original price that the third party seller claims on Amazon an obvious lie, but their price reduction is still higher than IKEA's actual original price of $8.99. And IKEA has even reduced the price beyond that.

So clearly going through IKEA is the better deal here. Right?

Well, not so fast.

But Amazon is still a better deal if you don't have access to an IKEA Store.

IKEA's achilles heel in ecommerce is that its shipping charges are pretty outrageous, especially in a world that increasingly expects free shipping when shopping online.

When I add that flatware set to my online shopping cart at IKEA, I'm hit with a $10 shipping fee. And that's for parcel post delivery, not even anything expedited like UPS or Fedex. That brings my total to $17.99, or $4 higher than the price on Amazon with Prime shipping.

So there you have it. If buying IKEA online is your only option, then Amazon is the better deal, even with dishonest disclosures from third party sellers with regard to original prices. But if you can drive to a store, then you're better off to skip buying online altogether.

This article first appeared on Brad's Deals.

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