As you are probably aware, the office furniture market is very competitive and, like most highly competitive markets, a lot of competition focuses on price. You often see headlines on web sites and catalogues saying “60% off”, “half price” etc. Unlike the retail market, where there is more regulation, the business to business market is free to do pretty much what it likes.
The large discounts are given against a figure called something like “suggested selling price”, which can be pretty much what you like. Not all office furniture dealers use the same “suggested selling price” so you may find exactly the same article listed in one case as “half price” against a suggested selling price of £200 and in another case as “10% off” a suggested selling price of £100. It is tempting to ask your furniture dealer what discount he will offer you, but you really should be asking him for his best price, this is the only way you can make a proper comparison from one offer to another.
Another trap for the unwary concerns what is included in the price. Business furniture is not like office stationary, books or CDs, it can’t be put in the post or even sent by standard courier service. In most cases it needs to be delivered by specialist carriers and assembled on site. Delivery and installation could add at least a further 10% to the cost of the furniture, so make sure that you know whether the price you see includes or excludes delivery and installation, and if it is excluded how much extra will be charged for this service.
The old adage “you get what you pay for” generally applies to business furniture as well as it does for most things in life. A £60 desk and a £30 chair are very unlikely to be as good quality as items costing twice as much. They are unlikely to be as sturdy or as well made. You should also be aware of what warranty is offered with the goods – a reputable buisness furniture manufacturer and dealer will offer a five year warranty on most products. Sometimes on websites and catalogues it is very difficult to find out what warranty is offered on the goods – if in doubt, ask.
If you are fitting out an office you probably need some
continuity of supply, when a new person joins you will probably what to buy a desk and chair which matches the rest of the office. A lot of buisness furniture which is offered at knock-down prices is imported by the container-load from the far east. If this is the case you will probably find it very difficult to obtain the same products again.
Finally you must consider the added value that an experienced furniture dealer can bring. These services range from space planning to gain the maximum utility from a limited space, project management so that all the items arrive at the same time to minimise disruption, and finally, advice to offer solutions which you may not have thought of.