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The Top 9 Problems with an Online Outdoor Kitchen Company

By James King

July 22, 2022

These days, online shopping is embedded in our daily lives.

Some of us shop online more than at brick and mortar stores!

While commonplace… There’s an immense amount of trust built into the decision to purchase products online.

This is especially true when you’re buying a big-ticket item.

Outdoor kitchens are the perfect example!

While they’ve been available online for a while… Many homeowners are apprehensive about clicking “add to cart” when browsing a grill island online.


It’s understandable!

Although improving all the time… There are some problems with online outdoor kitchen companies.

Let’s discuss.

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Can't Try Before You Buy

tamara at rta outdoor kitchen with family

The most common objection we hear to purchasing an outdoor kitchen online is… You can’t see it in real life before purchasing.

We can certainly understand the hesitation.

A grill island is a huge investment for your outdoor living area! You want to be sure you’re getting the best product possible… And it’s difficult to do so if you can’t see the product in person.

For most homeowners, a showroom would be the ideal solution.

At the same time… A showroom is only presenting you with a pristine, brand new outdoor kitchen. It doesn’t give you an idea of how they will look after a few years outside.

Unfortunately, many companies don’t offer showrooms nationwide. (We don’t either!)

However, there are some ways RTA helps to bridge the gap.

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kitchen finishes

Perhaps you’re interested in one of our islands… But can’t be quite sure of the quality.

We offer sample panels that we can mail to you in your desired finish!

This will allow you to see, feel, and touch the BBQ island material. It won’t be the whole island… But it will give you a good sense of what you’re working with.

In the future… We’ll be working with existing RTA customers to provide you a “local showroom”.

This means you’ll be able to see real outdoor kitchens, in real customers’ backyards!

But of course… There’s more to buying online than just seeing the product.

Unsure of Quality

No matter what you purchase online… There’s a level of uncertainty in the process.

How can you know… With absolute certainty… That you’re going to receive what you ordered?

Unfortunately, you can’t be 100% confident!

At the end of the day… Online purchases require faith that you’ll receive the product you ordered.

Of course, the same is true of an online outdoor kitchen purchase.

Since you can’t tell if you’re ordering quality products… You’re often relying on images and reviews.

Are the pictures photoshopped? Are they real outdoor kitchens in real backyards?

Do you know how long the outdoor kitchen is going to last?

What do the reviews say? Are there any product videos or testimonials?

All of these things will either make you more confident in your purchase… Or far less.

What You See is What You Get

At RTA… What you see truly is what you get.

We have an ever-expanding library of videos and photos of real, premium outdoor kitchens.

These examples give you a direct sense of what your grill island might look like!

Not to mention… Positive reviews keep pouring in every day!

Many of these homeowners have included images in their reviews… So you can see that expectations do meet reality.

That said, you still may not feel confident enough.

In the future… There are plans to connect you directly with an existing RTA customer.

You’ll be able to ask them all your burning questions… And see what the experience is like from a trusted source!

The website you’re browsing might make you feel confident about quality. But do you know what you’re getting?

Is Everything Included?

stainless steel modular outdoor kitchen
*Grill, sink and faucet are not included.

When browsing for an outdoor kitchen online… It may be unclear on what is actually included.

Images tend to show complete grill islands. Appliances, countertops, and all!

However… Many brands don’t include appliances and/or countertops with their grill island kits.

This is important to know!

You can’t have an outdoor kitchen without a grill, after all.

So when you’re surveying your options… Read through everything carefully!

There’s nothing more frustrating than receiving less than what you were expecting.

Especially when you now have to source the remaining pieces!

The One Stop Shop

It’s already confusing enough to shop for an outdoor kitchen online.

Do you really want to be bothered with piecing together your project from multiple companies?

Probably not!

That’s why every outdoor kitchen at RTA is a complete package.

You get the island structure, appliances, and the countertops.

No need to juggle with multiple vendors. All you need to do is wait for delivery… And assemble!

Even if your selected company offers a complete outdoor kitchen package… You may find yourself disappointed by the lack of customization.

Limited Custom Options

If you’ve been shopping for an outdoor kitchen online… You’ll notice the lack of flexibility in design.

Generally, there’s only a few predesigned layouts available for purchase.

If what you’re looking for fits these designs… That’s great!

But most homeowners want to make a tweak here and there. Or, you may want a fully custom BBQ island!

Unfortunately… Most online outdoor kitchen companies are unable to accommodate these adjustments.

Even a simple appliance swap might be too much to handle!

So this puts you in a difficult position.

You can either compromise on a predesigned layout… Or go through the process of working with a contractor. (This can be great! Just understand there issues when working with a contractor, too.)

However, things are changing!

Create Your Design from Home

In the past few years… It has become much easier to create custom outdoor kitchens online.


Well, in 2020… We released our free online design tool.

This allows you to create a custom outdoor kitchen design in minutes.

Yes, minutes!

And at the end of those few minutes… You’ll be presented with a 3D rendering of your dream outdoor kitchen.

All from the comfort of your own home. You truly don’t even have to lift a finger.

Since it’s release… The RTA design tool has been used over 20,000 times.

It has truly changed the conversation about buying an outdoor kitchen online!

But even still… Being able to customize isn’t the only deciding factor.

Not finding the information you need can stop you in your tracks.

Unclear Information

In order for your outdoor kitchen project to be a success… You need to be deeply informed!

Utilities, site prep, layout, appliances, price, and size are just a few of the things you have to consider.

Point is, the outdoor kitchen planning process is quite a doozy.

So if there’s not enough information online… You can’t possibly make an informed purchasing decision.

Take materials, for example.

Your outdoor kitchen materials need to be resilient to the environment you live in.

Many online outdoor kitchen retailers are unclear on this point!

If you don’t know what materials your island is made out of… How can you know it will perform well where you live?

And that’s just one factor to consider.

Size, appliance information, and pricing is also often left unsaid. Then you have to jump into the rigmarole of slow customer service. (We’ll talk about that, too!)

What if finding the information you need didn’t have to be complicated?

Your Library of Outdoor Kitchen Knowledge

No matter what stage of the process you’re in… You should be able to find high quality information to guide your decision.

One goal we have at RTA is to become the “WebMD” of outdoor kitchens.

Through the recently launched Learning Hub… You’ll find a constantly expanding library of this exact knowledge!

New videos and blogs are released every single week. The more knowledge you have at your fingertips… The more informed your purchasing decision will be!

If you’re curious… Here are the main topics covered in the Learning Hub:

  • Project Planning

  • Built In Grills & Outdoor Appliances

  • Installation & Construction

  • Outdoor Kitchen Design Help

  • Cost & Pricing

  • Outdoor Kitchen Ideas

Whether you decide to work with RTA or not… We want to serve you.

Yes, even if that means you choose another solution!

The point of the Learning Hub is to provide you accurate information about outdoor kitchens.

So sometimes… That means the information you find will lead you to a non-RTA offering.

Even if you have all the facts… Not getting the support you need can be a turn-off when purchasing a BBQ island online.

An Easy Outdoor Kitchen Solution

Use our 3D design tool for free and design your island, pick your appliances, and countertops all in the same place!

Slow Customer Service

So you’re browsing outdoor kitchens online… And you have a question.

You’re almost ready to make a purchase. You just need this one question answered.

Who is available to provide you the answer?

Is there a live chat option? Do they have someone at the phone?

Sometimes… All you can do is send a message to the outdoor kitchen company via email.

And if that’s your only option… You’ll likely be waiting at least 24 hours for a response.

There’s no question it’s frustrating. Especially if it’s peak barbecue season and you want to get started right away.

While customer service online can be hit or miss… We take a different approach.

We're Invested in Your Success

rta employee helping move a panel for outdoor kitchen assembly

Should you decide to explore RTA as an option… You’ll be assigned a Design Expert. They will work one-on-one with you from start to finish.

Consider them your personal outdoor kitchen guru!

At RTA, we don’t have a customer service team. We have a Customer Success team.

What’s the difference?

Rather than waiting who knows how long for an email response… You receive tailored support.

Most online outdoor kitchen companies are reactionary. They’ll wait until you have a problem to solve it.

Not so with RTA. While we’re not available around the clock… You’ll be able to contact us most of the time.

You’ll get direct support (with real humans!) 6 days a week from 8AM-9PM. Our team is spread across the country, so you’ll likely reach someone no matter your time zone!

Live chat, phone support, and email forms are all available for service. You’ll have support well after your outdoor kitchen is installed!

So far so good… But the checkout process might be a hang-up for you.

Complicated Checkout Process

Although online checkouts are constantly improving… They can still be confusing!

You might be required to register an account before you checkout… Or the payment might fail… Or if you’re financing, that’s a whole other story!

Being a big-ticket item, many homeowners seek financing for their outdoor kitchen order.

Unfortunately, most online financing options are intensely tedious.

So tedious, in fact… That you abandon your cart and look for options elsewhere.

A frustrating checkout process shouldn’t make you ditch your dream grill island.

It doesn’t have to at all!

We'll Walk You Through It

We’re not going to pretend like our online checkout is perfect.

While we do utilize one of the best ecommerce platforms out there… Securing financing for your order may be a bit challenging. (We’re working on it!)

If you’re having trouble with our checkout process, don’t despair!

That’s why we have a team of Design Support Specialists and Design Experts!

They’re readily available to simplify the process for you.

If you find online checkout for your outdoor kitchen intimidating… One of our team members can send you a direct payment link or invoice.

It couldn’t be easier!

Now you may be comfortable with an online checkout… But shipping challenges bring up a whole new set of concerns.

Possible Shipping Problems

When ordering a product online… You expect it to ship and arrive quickly.

But it’s no secret that the past couple years have thrown a wrench in the shipping supply chain!

Between travel restrictions, terminal shutdowns, and a limited workforce… Quality and efficiency of the industry are at an all-time low.

The result?

Significant delays, damage, or other shipping challenges are more common than ever.

Although shipping a summer kitchen is a slightly different process than UPS or FedEx… The problems remain the same.

Outdoor kitchen deliveries are just as prone to delays, damage, or even being sent to the wrong address.

Some companies may not even provide tracking information… Leaving you completely in the dark!

With a shipment this large, you need to know how to prepare for delivery. First and foremost, you need to be home to accept the crate.

How can you do this if you’re not told ahead of time?

And even if you do get proper communication…The last thing you want to deal with is a broken outdoor kitchen upon delivery. That’s a logistical nightmare to manage!

So it’s understandable why you would be uneasy about the whole idea.

Yet, your hopes don’t need to be dashed.

Hands On Delivery Process

No matter what… Shipping issues are bound to happen.

However, precautions can be made to minimize this as much as possible.

At RTA… We have quite a few strategies at play to ensure a smooth delivery. (And make sure we have inventory to ship!)

One measure is securing appliance availability. In June, orders are already being placed for needed appliances the following year.

So when you place your order… There’s no need to worry about backordered outdoor appliances. Your outdoor kitchen will ship as a complete package.

But what about getting said package to your door?

Even with the slim pickings these days… We are constantly re-evaluating the shipping companies we work with. Only the top performers handle your delivery!

This is true even though we have to pay more for the service. (You’re worth it!)

You won’t be surprised by the delivery date, either. Every delivery to a residential address requires an appointment. That way, you’re always in the know.

Damage during transit is also minimized as much as possible.

Every shipping crate we use is handmade! By building crates specific to the needs of your outdoor kitchen… The chance of a flawless delivery jumps significantly.

And although every crate costs around $500 to produce… It’s a small price to pay to ensure your delivery is in pristine condition.

But of course… You might be concerned about what happens after your kitchen is delivered.

No Local Support After Install

Maybe the website you’re browsing looks good. So far, all of your concerns have been addressed.

But, you’re uneasy about what happens after your outdoor kitchen is installed.

If you have a problem and need service… Will you only hear crickets?

It’s a very real concern. (It’s a common worry when working with contractors, too!)

You need to know that the company will help you if issues arise. Whether that be replacement parts or repairs… You need to know you’ll be supported.

With an outdoor kitchen, this is even more complicated. There is no simple return process to get a replacement.

And if there’s something that needs to be fixed… That requires technical knowledge you may not have!

That means you’ll need a professional to help you in person.

Generally speaking… Online outdoor kitchen companies don’t offer this level of local support.

Most likely, you have to rely on a customer service agent who is hundreds (or thousands!) of miles away.

That can be intensely frustrating when something goes wrong!

However, there are companies out there breaking the mold.

We'll Help You, No Matter Where You Are

countertop installation for rta outdoor kitchen kit

As an online outdoor kitchen company… We recognize your need for local support.

And we’ll be the first to admit that our process isn’t perfect! There’s always improvements to be made.

Speaking of which…

With RTA, you have access to a rapidly growing network of highly vetted contractors.

So if something goes wrong with your project… (Hopefully not!) There’s probably a contractor nearby to take care of the issue.

However, we don’t have coverage across the entire country. If you fall into one of these areas… There are a couple scenarios that can happen.

Most likely, we will source someone local to help you with the problem.

Alternatively… 80% of the RTA team is working remotely. So odds are, there’s a team member nearby that can drive to your home and help.

Talk about personal service!

Now that you’ve seen the problems with an online outdoor kitchen company… Where do you go from here?

Wrapping Up

person using free 3d design tool software on their laptop

Ultimately… We understand the challenges you face with an online outdoor kitchen company.

It’s not a perfect solution.

That’s why we consistently strategize to minimize (or even eliminate!) these concerns.

Ordering an outdoor kitchen online is a relatively new phenomenon. So it’s always a work in process!

Between free online design… Tailored service from design experts… And streamlined delivery…

RTA makes it easy to order an outdoor kitchen online.

But don’t just take our word for it.

Explore it for yourself!

Get inspired by the design tool, browse the Learning Hub, and check our online reviews.

If you need a confidence boost… Our team is ready to answer any (and all!) of your questions.

So, what are you waiting for?

Let’s create your dream outdoor space!


Book a call with one of our outdoor kitchen design experts and get started today!


Currently, an outdoor kitchen costs around $12,000-$13,000. While you may spend a bit more or less… This is a good ballpark estimate for your budget.

Outdoor kitchen ROI relies heavily on the quality of your island. A poor quality grill island will have little to no value when selling your home.

However… A high quality BBQ island can give you anywhere from 60%-200% return on your investment.

It depends on where you live! Ask your local planning board if your project will require planning permission or not.

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