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How Interior Designers Can Decode Shipping & Freight for Product Sourcing

August 4, 2022

Table of Contents

The following is an excerpt taken from an incredible 3-part video series, The Definitive Guide to Product Sourcing with John Adcox. If you’d like to catch the full series, you can head on over to our resources page to see it in its entirety!

Continuing on our series on Product Sourcing (read part one here, and part two here), in this installment, it’s time to talk about something you’ve probably run into a lot as a designer – the challenges that can arise with shipping and freight.

A quick Primer on Product Sourcing Shipping & Freight for Interior Designers

Shipping is by far one of the most complex and hated parts of our business, and it’s one of those subjects that we’d probably rather avoid altogether. But the reality is that it’s extremely important in our industry for the simple fact that our stuff is big –  and the big stuff is expensive to ship, making it a higher percentage of our costs.

But understanding those numbers, being aware of them, knowing how to make the right decisions along the way is the key to making more money and having a profitable business as a designer!

The Basic Types of Shipping

Typically, when we classify shipping, it’s based on the delivery location. So, is it going to a commercial address? Or is it a residential address?

If it’s commercial shipping, it’s probably going to be on an 18 Wheeler, and the expectation will be that you’re either going to have it sitting on a loading dock or warehouse, or a commercial address like a design studio.

For residential shipping, typically the item will start on a larger truck, and then ultimately end up being loaded onto a smaller truck that’s a little more nimble and easier to navigate through neighbourhoods and residential areas.

Now, we can break residential shipping further down into three subcategories.

  1. There are courier companies, like FedEx & UPS which can ship smaller items directly to a residence.
  2. Then there’s what’s called curbside deliveries, which is a company that will take the item to a house, and then offload it in the yard, or the driveway, or somewhere on the property and it’s the client’s responsibility to get it inside, unpackage it, inspect it, and get it placed.
  3. The final option is what we typically call a full white glove shipment, which is the most robust (but expensive) experience that’s pretty hands-off as the company takes care of delivery, placement, and the trash from packaging and shipping.
interior design freight

The Costs Associated with Shipping

Now, this can of course vary depending on where you are and a few other factors, but here’s a rough guideline on the level of cost you can expect with the various methods of shipping and freight.

Generally speaking, the least expensive option for shipping and freight is going to be a commercial shipment with a loading dock, with the next step up in cost being a commercial delivery without a dock. Now higher up on the cost ladder are the residential shipment options, beginning with courier companies like FedEx or UPS. The next rung up would then curbside delivery. And finally, the most expensive option is going to be your white glove delivery.

How is freight charged? How do companies come up with their rates when you request a quote? Typically it’s set up by the manufacturer, and each one has their own policy – which can make this whole shipping thing seem confusing and complex.

Typically though, there are three common ways that a manufacturer sets the rates. 

  • The first is on a percentage, which is a flat percentage on the value of the order. Depending on the manufacturer this can be anywhere from 10-25%.

  • The second is a flat fee. This method is pretty common with a manufacturer who produces one type or product (say for instance fabric, or carpet) and they’ll charge you X amount of dollars per yard.

  • And the third is an actual freight quote, meaning, they’ll actually take the weight and dimensions of all the product, and where it’s going, and base the shipping of that.

Great, I Got the Basics, Now How Do I, as an interior designer Navigate Shipping & Freight?

If you’d like to learn how to make the most money, and, how to get around some of the challenges of shipping and freight, then be sure to catch the full series on product sourcing on our resources page!

John has done an amazing job at demystifying, and breaking down how to be on your product sourcing A-game – saving you time, improving your margins on product, and ultimately keeping your clients happy!

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