Have you thought about using procurement services but don’t know where to start? Are you confused about the steps involved and how much it will cost? Do you really know what these companies do and how they could add value to your project?
Procurement is a notoriously vague and sometimes complex topic. So it’s unsurprising that we get a lot of questions from our members about where procurement services add value, how and why they are effective, and what the service on offer really is. Where does the designer’s role stop and their role begin?
We asked our in-house procurement service eporta procurement some of your commonly asked questions to provide a transparent overview:
What is procurement?
Procurement is “finding, agreeing terms and acquiring goods, services or works from an external source”.
Procurement companies work alongside interior designers, architects, office managers and property developers to help you manage the sourcing for your project. They add value by actively managing the entire end-to-end buying process for you. They can have as much or little creative input in sourcing the furniture items as you need, but generally speaking they will manage the planning and actual purchasing of these products on your behalf, look after the logistics and installation, and see the project through with you from conception to completion.
What is a design consultant?
Design consultants are specialists in the furniture industry and have an extensive product knowledge, built up over many years of working with hundreds of suppliers across projects. They know what products are suitable for different industries and for specific uses. Products that are suitable for a residential project for example, may not be appropriate for a high traffic commercial space. However, they can quickly provide you with alternatives that are suitable for your project. This knowledge is key to saving you time, and money.
How are procurement companies different to what you do at eporta?
eporta is an online platform that allows trade buyers to source and purchase furniture, lighting and accessories directly from suppliers all over the world. With one place to search for goods and communicate with suppliers, it is easier than ever for buyers to manage the whole procurement process themselves.
For companies that only specify, or don’t have the resource to purchase in-house, procurement services manage the entire end-to-end buying process for you. They purchase goods and materials on your behalf and in working closely with suppliers, they are able to optimise project efficiency by coordinating your delivery and installation. Most procurement companies have dedicated warehouse spaces and will use specialist installation teams who can not only install your furniture on site, but also go the extra mile in hanging lights, installing artwork, or assembling furniture.
When does it make sense to use procurement services? Is my company too small?
The question on whether or not to procure isn’t really about the size of your company. It is more to do with the nature of your project, your experience, and the manpower available to you at the time. Not all projects are the same. Sometimes you will need their assistance, and sometimes it will be better to handle it alone.
The best way that these companies can add value, is when you are time poor, low on manpower, when you are working in a new area, or your client wants to use suppliers or products you are not familiar with.
I’ve heard that procurement specialists are expensive, so how much does it all cost?
Many suppliers will have a discounting structure where they will offer a higher discount to procurement companies than to other trade clients. These procurement companies can represent a higher volume of orders for suppliers across the year, and help to promote their products in large scale installations, in some of the world’s top hotels and restaurants. Therefore they will be able to make money by adding a margin on top of the discount offered to them, while still passing on trade discounts to you.
This amount will vary depending on the scope of the project and your needs. Generally speaking, you could be looking at between 5-20% of the overall project cost. Even with this markup, overall, the prices are often the same as what you would get from approaching the supplier yourself anyway, and should either save you time, or money, and often both.
If you’re unsure about about how the pricing would work on your project we are happy to talk it through and explain what the costs (or savings) are likely to be on that particular project. You can email us at email@example.com
I can get the products cheaper myself, so why use someone else?
The key is to look at the whole story. How much time are you spending talking to logistics companies? Or dealing with that marble coffee table that arrived damaged? How much do you end up paying in storage charges because of that great deal you got from ebay?
Their experience, product knowledge, logistics expertise and the extra manpower is a key benefit to ensure that your project is managed smoothly and delivered on time and within budget.
So…what’s the catch?
They won’t have great terms with every supplier out there, so for certain products, like bespoke pieces or niche brands, you may be better off to go direct. Similarly, if you are only buying one small table from a supplier, the scope of the project may be too small – they need to make money too, so it may not be a viable option for them to work with you all the time on every project.
What happens when things go wrong?
It is the job of the procurement team to ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible. At the point of delivery, goods are fully inspected and properly checked by warehouse staff, which ensures that, if there are any issues with products, this is dealt with and rectified directly by the supplier as quickly as possible.
Most companies will have a dedicated after-sales team who are experienced in dealing with any snagging issues. This person will look after any unforeseen problems that may arise, which means that you can get on with your next project stress free, whilst they tidy up the last one.
What makes eporta procurement different to any other procurement service?
Because we are the exclusive procurement partner to eporta we have a larger brand portfolio than any other procurement service. This means we can be much more design focussed, while still providing FF&E solutions that work within your budget. Finally the use of the platform and our in house procurement software means we can manage projects with greater efficiency and accuracy.
Our team has more than 10 years of experience working with suppliers and installing projects around the world, but we want to do procurement differently. We are uniquely transparent and design focussed. We believe that great design has become crucial to build a strong brand and inspire customer loyalty and we exist to offer a higher standard of design and service to companies and large scale projects, as well as high-end residential.
If you’d like to talk to one of our team about whether procurement is for you, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll give you a call to help assess your project.
Still wondering whether you should use procurement services? Take our quiz!