• Pankaj Agrawal

How do I find the right office furniture manufacturer for my retail business?

While there are various office furniture manufacturers across the world, over 40% of the office furniture sold worldwide is made in China, making it the largest furniture manufacturer and exporter worldwide. Office furniture made in China is usually made of high-quality boards and materials like melamine and MFC, aluminium and nylon mesh, that are ensured to last for a lifetime. But how do you find the right manufacturer who will help your retail and project business to thrive and flourish?

If you have a retail furniture business dealing in work chairs, executive chairs, visitor chairs, or office desks, workstations, storage, reception tables, waiting area furniture, breakout rooms furniture or if you help companies execute commercial projects by supplying furniture, fittings, partitions etc, you will invariably need a strong manufacturing partner to support you with high-quality products, competitive pricing, logistics support, after-sales service, quick turnaround and most importantly empathy and understanding of your unique business needs. So here's a quick checklist of points you may want to consider while looking for the right office furniture manufacturer for your retail/projects business.


1. High-quality products: Does your partner have their own manufacturing or are they just traders? There is no problem with either but be aware that a manufacturer will be able to give you better prices and more customisation. The dealer/wholesaler may have a limited range but may be able to give you smaller quantities although at slightly higher prices.


So if you want more variety and better prices, it is better to work directly with a manufacturer and check what are their certifications and the quality of products? Do they have a quality control process? Are they ISO/BIFMA/ANSI certified?


Does your manufacturing partner use the best quality materials like A1 boards, and good anti-rust/anti-termite melamine finish? Do they use Grade 3 gas lifts in the chairs? What are the other factors that determine the quality of the product? Be frank to ask all the questions that come to your mind as many products that look good in pictures may not be sturdy/long-lasting and since this is a purchase for your business, a poor quality product can spoil your own reputation and business chances in the long-term. We wouldn't want that, would we?


2. Competitive pricing: It may be somewhat difficult to assess the quality and may need some amount of research and understanding of technical terms. But once you have been able to get a clear understanding of what are the different qualities of products available in the market, to make sure you are comparing apples to apples, it is relatively easy to compare pricing as that's just a number at the end of the day. You must make sure to compare at least 2 to 3 suppliers and compare their prices. Be sure to ask for Incoterms like Ex Works (EXW), Free Carrier (FCA), Carriage Paid To (CIP), Carriage and Insurance Paid To (CIP), Delivered at Place (DAP), Delivered at Place Unloaded (DPU), Delivered Duty Paid (DDP), Free Alongside Ship (FAS), Free on Board (FOB), Cost and Freight (CFR), or Cost, Insurance, and Freight (CIF) as they can have a big impact on your final landed price. Unlike in the retail business where you may even see discounts like 50% or 80% it is unusual in the manufacturing space where companies usually do not have the room to negotiate beyond 3 - 5% and some manufacturers may have a policy of quoting their best prices that they are unable to negotiate. So it is important for any B2B Office Furniture Buyer to be aware of the product details and comparative pricing so that you can maximise your own business reputation and profits.


3. Logistics support: Many manufacturers will give you an ex-works commitment meaning they have no responsibility after the goods are manufactured and handed over to your agents. However, logistics is an extremely volatile sector these days with frequent shortages of containers, workers, contraction of the fleet on container ships and related reduction in the availability of slots on container ships and the imbalance in trade flows. Please check if your manufacturer has local knowledge, ability and willingness to support you and help with logistics and make sure you get your goods as fast as possible. Remember it is in the manufacturer's own best interest as the faster you get your goods and the faster you sell them, there're repeat orders in wait for the factory.


4. After-sales service: Even when we are dealing with 2 factories as alternates which make an equally good product and almost exactly the same price, I would much rather go with the one who offers better after-sales support. This could mean some extra spare parts are included as default with every order. It could mean a commitment to provide even more spares if you do face a problem later. It could also be evidenced in a warranty as most manufacturers especially if you are buying entry-level products, may not give you any warranty at all and no after-sales support.


5. Quick turnaround: Often we have suppliers and manufacturers who are eager to take an order but as soon as we have paid an advance, they seem to go into a deep slumber! Beware of that and be clear to ask for & negotiate timelines in advance, before placing your order itself. There are some things outside the factory's control especially when it comes to transport and logistics. But at least the manufacturing process should have clear timelines.


6. Empathy and understanding: Let's face it, the biggest evidence of a person leading a healthy life is that she/he lives a long & healthy life. In an age when businesses come and go, any company that stays in business for many years, and constantly invests in their plants, machinery, tools, moulds etc, automatically gets some trust from its customers and that cannot be unless they actually understand the business and empathise with their customers. However this is also something you will only understand after dealing with someone - do they look only concerned about getting your order, or are they keen to understand your needs and help your business?


Summary

While there are thousands of furniture manufacturers, wholesalers and dealers, it is a fact that there are very few who will tick all the checkboxes above. Do your own research and be diligent when looking for a sustainable manufacturing partner who can support your business and grow with you.


Stellar Global is an international office and hospital furniture manufacturing company that has been in the business for over 32 years and exports furniture to over 80 countries worldwide. We regularly export furniture to hundreds of retail stores and retail chains and have helped plan and execute several large scale projects in different parts of the world from co-working places to commercial offices, government buildings, educational institutions - schools & colleges, libraries, auditoria, hospitals, operation theatres and clinics.


Get in touch with us if you're looking for an office/medical furniture manufacturer or if you're planning any large scale commercial project and need help with any type of commercial furniture.

Email: contactus@stellarglobal.com

Visit us at https://www.stellarglobal.online/

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