We know, we know - this isn't the exciting part of the design process. BUT the work and people behind this part of the process have so much of my respect that I had to dedicate an entire post to explaining how important they are in a seamless install and furniture storing period. We will cover a few questions we get frequently at the start of the design process and explain each step as we prepare for an install!
Why isn't my shipping free like everything else I see?
Amazon Prime and "free" 2 day shipping has ruined this for all of us, and we can easily forget that nothing is actually "free." There are tens of thousands of human hands across this country doing a lot of heavy lifting behind the scenes, and there is a cost for this level of attention.
All designers can decide on this individually for their businesses, but we at Madison Nicole Design pass along hefty discounts for goods purchased through us. We do not charge retail pricing, which means we don't hide the costs and fees related to shipping, freight, and receiving. In order to maintain these discounts for you, we cannot cover shipping and delivery costs, but we also pass those costs on to you with no upcharges included. Being transparent about these costs keeps the process honest, and we believe in letting you know exactly where your investment is going.
So what does the shipping process look like and what am I paying for?
When we place a furniture order from a vendor, that furniture ships out via freight service (a very large semi truck that drives cross country) and freight shipping is calculated at a much lower rate than UPS or Fed Ex, for example. Freight carriers (big semi trucks) are the only method that vendors ship furniture from their factories - they do not send furniture via FedEx. These trucks will only drop their orders at a receiving warehouse, which has a loading dock, forklift, and a team of people that can unload that truck.
Once furniture arrives at the receiving warehouse, the team must do all of the following:
- Unload the truck and receive all items (any items with visible damage to the packaging will be refused for delivery)
- All items must be checked against the order list from us and logged into inventory
- Each item is labeled with our name, the project name, and placed in a specific area of the warehouse
- EVERY SINGLE ITEM must then be unwrapped, unboxed or uncrated and thoroughly inspected for damage or
imperfections, and then we work on the backend to secure a replacement if necessary. (This happens more often than
you will ever know, and that's the point! No headaches for you to deal with)
- Anything that requires assembly will be assembled by our amazing receiving team
- Approved items are then rewrapped, re-boxed or re-crated until we are ready for install
Just to give you a visual, this is about 60% of the lighting for ONE project. You read that right - JUST 60% of the lighting. Can you imagine trying to receive this plus all other furniture to your home over multiple days and weeks?! And having multiple large pallets that you don't know what to do with? And no, DIYing a project with them is not a good answer.
What happens during the install?
Once we're ready for install, all items are removed from storage and then loaded securely into potentially more than one box truck, depending on the size of the project. 2-4 guys, a forklift, and serious manual labor allows this to happen, and it can take more than 5 hours to load the trucks for a large order. Speed is not the goal here - undamaged furniture loaded efficiently for easy unloading in your home is.
Once they arrive at your home, they start to unload the trucks and unwrap all of the furniture. They wear protective gloves and booties to ensure they don't get anything dirty as they are moving each item into the correct room. And for the better part of this year, they're doing it all while masked and dealing with all the other complications that Covid has brought. They patiently place furniture and rugs throughout the house, and don't complain as we ask rugs to be moved over a few inches even though all of the furniture is already placed on top of it (did we mention how much we love our delivery team?!)
This next step by itself is more than worth the cost in our opinion, after having done my own home installs. Once the install is complete, the team loads their trucks with hundreds of pounds of cardboard + packing material and takes it all with them. This means no cardboard stacks for weeks near your trash cans! No pesky little particles of styrofoam swirling around and sticking to EVERYTHING. Told you it was worth it!! Once they make it back to the warehouse, they transfer all of this packing material to their dump trailer and make a stop at the local dump to recycle and dump waste, which is another 3-4 hour process. Plus, there are dump fees to dispose of all of this as well!
What's the bottom line in terms of cost?
When you purchase your furniture, we charge a flat fee of 20% of the cost of goods sold to cover your shipping + freight, receiving, storage, and delivery fees. We don't make any profit on this, because it costs enough already! At the end of the job, once everything has been installed and your home is looking juuuust right, we reconcile the costs and refund any extra amount that you may have been charged. We typically land somewhere between 15-20% once all is said and done. That might sound like a large amount, but please remember everything we discussed above. Shipping involves real people, tools like trucks and warehouses, and lots of operating costs. We would not be able to serve you well without this hidden infrastructure.
Was anything surprising to hear? If you have any questions on this process, I would love to hear from you!