As an interior designer, your path to profitability isn’t just about raising your rates. You can also earn more by sourcing high margin products.
But how do you find these products?
We’ve rounded up the absolute best trade resources and networks for interior design procurement—whether you want to tap into collective buying power or advocate for your own discounts.
Keep reading for some designer favorites.
A quick mindset shift on trade products
Before we dive into the resources, we need to clear the air.
In case you’re wondering…you do NOT have to share the commission with your clients, or cut the prices down to give them a deal.
That commission is rightfully yours. It pays for your time and expertise. You’re the one getting the deal, because YOU are the brand’s most valuable customer, not your client.
Our friend, business coach Nacy Ganzekaufer says it best:
“There’s no such thing as double-dipping. Your margin on your furnishings is for your years of education or self-education, keeping up with your product library, with all your reps, all the latest trends, and the quality of the furnishings. Your project management hourly rate is for any time your hands, your feet, or your eyes are doing what a client would have to do if you didn’t exist. It’s not double-dipping. It’s two separate profitability streams that you’re entitled to.” – Nancy Ganzekaufer, Interior Design Business Coach
Now onto the resources!
With SideDoor, you can source and place orders for trade-only products from 200+ well-known vendors and they will manage the orders and the delivery of those products for you at no cost.
What’s also unique about SideDoor is that if you prefer to let the client shop the items themselves, SideDoor made it possible for designers to create shoppable collections. You can direct your client to your collection page where they can purchase the items themselves and SideDoor will handle the order and delivery straight to your client at no cost to you.
If you love the idea of letting your client shop the products themselves or if you would like to monetize your social content and earn more with higher-margin products, then definitely check out SideDoor. You could be sourcing trade only products and boost your commission to an average of 30% per order vs earning 2%-7% from standard affiliate links.
2. Daniel House
Daniel House boasts some of the highest commissions in the business. Designers can order products from over 100 vendors at up to 50% off retail, and either keep the full commission for themselves, or offer their clients a slight discount off of MSRP. What’s more, when you order from Daniel House, you don’t have to deal with contacting multiple vendors or coordinating delivery.
2. The Designers’ Collaborative
With the Designers’ Collective, you can hook into hundreds of different trade accounts in one place. The network uses its collective purchasing power from designers to open trade accounts with vendors and procure products at the lowest possible price—meaning the highest possible margin for you.
To join, you’ll need to pay an annual fee of $370 but you’ll easily be able to get a multiple return on your investment with the designer discounts you can access through the network.
3. Bello Lane
The mother-daughter team behind Bello Lane goes to work for you, creating relationships with vendors so you can easily procure trade products in one place. You can also try their done-for-you concierge buying service to take some of the work off your plate.
As for cost, there are no registration or subscription fees, but you will pay a percentage-based fee depending on the nature of the work. If you use them for fully managed buying services, you’ll split the commission with them 50/50, but if you just use their procurement resources, the split will favor you.
4. Interior Procurement Group
The Interior Design Procurement Group offers full-service procurement management, including detailed purchase orders, fabric samples and drawing approvals, ongoing communication, shipment tracking, warehousing, and more.
They structure their services into two categories:
- Purchasing management: (billing and purchasing support)
- Scheduling management: (status, warehousing, and installation)
You can choose either or both services for an individual project, based on your needs. Get in touch with the team for custom quotes.
5. Design Trade Service
Design Trade Service, or DTS, is a network for interior designers who want to access the full catalogs of furniture manufacturers in one place. Because the network offers connections with manufacturers directly, you’re able to get even lower prices than most trade programs, meaning higher margins for you.
You can purchase furniture from multiple manufacturers from a single order and get accurate pricing and shipping costs immediately, without having to wait for someone to get back to you. People have to register to see the goods, so you don’t have to worry about clients shopping you. When you register, you have to provide your business name and website, which DTS will check to verify your status as an industry professional, and not a consumer.
You can join for free, but you’ll pay slightly more for furniture items. Or, pay the $299 annual fee ($29.95 monthly) and you’ll get the lowest prices DTS has to offer.
6. Las Vegas Market Exhibitor Directory
Some designers prefer to have direct contact with each vendor so they can advocate for the lowest pricing on their own behalf. If you’d like to create more of these relationships, you might be wondering… Where do I start?
One smart trick is to check out the exhibitor directory of different markets. Most of these exhibitors will have trade programs that you can join. If it’s a brand you love and will purchase from often, it’s worth taking the time to make the connection.
The Las Vegas Market offers permanent showrooms and year-round opportunities for designers to explore furnishings and design resources. Their directory features over 4,000 lines.
7. High Point Market Exhibitor Directory
As mentioned above, you can check out exhibitor directories of markets in order to find product lines that offer trade discounts to interior designers. High Point Market takes place in April and October each year, but you can browse the online directory whenever you’d like.
[BONUS!] Material Bank
Material Bank isn’t a marketplace where you can order products, but it is a super helpful resource that all designers need to know about. The site offers access to free samples from over 450+ brands. Order by midnight (East Coast time) and you will get the samples delivered in one box by 10:30am the next day.
The packaging is also as sustainable as possible, with no unnecessary plastic wrap. The samples and boxes can be sent back and reused.
Purchasing trade products is a massive part of your business’s success, so make sure you keep working on this regularly. Join new trade programs when you don’t have something that meets all your needs. And advocate for lower fees from the lines you purchase a lot of products from.
Tapping into great resources that provide high-quality and high-margin products is one of the fastest ways to increase profits.
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