When it comes to furniture there are innumerable options out there. It’s understandable that when facing hundreds of potential suppliers, resellers bombarded with those choices might go on price or choose the company that is most familiar to them.

However, office furniture is a big decision. Unlike paper, pens or toner, a replacement or upgrade isn’t always easy to do after an installation is completed. Unless the customer has the budget for it, another refurbishment or interior design project is unlikely to be affordable if it hasn’t met expectations.

Problems could also mean long term damage to the reseller-customer relationship. If there are quality or damage issues or the product doesn’t meet the end user’s needs, the strengths of the reseller’s supply base will be laid bare and the relationship tested.

Although price may seem like the tempting option, we advise resellers to use this as just one factor in their decision making and to look at all the variables that can make or break their end user relationships.

Here are ten ways to weigh up furniture suppliers:

  1.  Expertise

Furniture is an important, long lasting decision and help from industry experts will make all the difference. The advice you’re given on quality, design, installation and price should come from someone who knows the office furniture sector inside out.

Find out about the team you’re directly dealing with. Have they got a background in the industry or is their experience more general?

  1. Depth of stock

Have they got the depth of ranges and products to give your customers genuine choice and the chance to consider all options? Ask about the depth of their stock holding, fill rate and if they can truly meet your expectations.

  1. Damage rate

Delivering damaged stock to customers will cause frustration, project delays and undermine your credibility. Ask for evidence of your supplier’s damage rate and ensure you are confident that they can meet your customer’s expectations.

  1. Product quality

Faulty products are another issue that can crop up when furniture is ordered without enough research into the supplier. Good product quality should not only cover stocked ranges, but also extend to a “specials” service. This can involve anything from a full special service with a large range of seating to an unlimited fabric service. The latter will enable seating to be upholstered in any fabric of the customer’s choice and branding, depending on their budget.

  1. Quantity price breaks/large order price discounts

There should be room for manoeuvre depending on order size. If you have a major order to place your shortlisted suppliers should be open to reasonable negotiations.

  1. No minimum order value

Conversely, suppliers’ operations and stock holdings should be flexible and responsive enough to deliver lower value orders and not just the big deals.

  1. No minimum order quantity

There are times when end users need one or two of a given product, so even if the majority of your orders are larger ones, find out how the supplier is likely to respond if you suddenly need one desk or chair.

  1. Free next day delivery

Can your supplier deliver next day, free of charge, if you need them to? Not every order is planned months in advance and there will be customers making last minute purchases, so knowing the response you will get, before you need it, is key.

  1. Third party delivery

Will the supplier deliver direct to your end users or to you? Is their delivery white labelled?

  1. Delivery and installation

Furniture isn’t just a select, click and deliver relationship. There are many end users around who need more support and you’ll build a stronger relationship if you can offer in-house design and installation.

For more tips and ideas follow us on Twitter or speak to your VOW account manager about the service and support offered by VOW Interiors.