Purchasing, Procurement and FF&E. What are they?

When you place an order online, you probably don’t think about what happens before and after it’s delivered to your doorstep.

To analyze the difference between purchasing and procuring, we’ll start with an example you may be familiar with.

The time has come for a new coffee table. You find yourself on the couch searching for the perfect one for days. You find one that you love, but it won’t ship for 10 weeks. That’s not going to cut it.

You find another one. This time, a stunning marble…but can marble withstand a 2 and 4 year old? Onto the next candidate.

After hours of searching, you finally find the perfect table. You take a look at your budget and timeline, and the materials and aesthetics. Is it durable? Is it reasonable to maintain and care for? Does it align with the style you’re going for? Can you afford it? Will you have it in 4 weeks? Ok. Now that all of the boxes are checked, it’s time to get out your credit card and purchase.

You click “place order,” screenshot the order confirmation or save it in your email, and then check every day for those magic words in “transit” or even better “out for delivery” to appear.

The day finally arrives. Your table is scheduled for delivery! You check the tracking page 5-10 times before lunch, and alas, “Delivered.”

You feast your eyes on the box on your front porch. It’s time to dig out your box cutter and get to work. About 45 minutes later, you finally have your brand new, perfect coffee table in the room you bought it for. Queue the opera music!

Everything other than the “place order” part, is procurement.

Now, of course as your interior designer, we are experienced in knowing what to look for, and where to look for it. We aren’t likely spending 3 hours every day at the office looking for a table. We have an extensive library of resources to help us find exactly what we’re looking for, something awfully close to it, and in those serendipitous moments, something better. The search for a product that fits your budget, lifestyle, mood, and schedule is just one part of procurement, and it’s called sourcing.

Everything you see in the room you are sitting in right now that can be moved (picked up, pushed, slid, pulled off, hung) is part of Furnishings (or, in the commercial world, FF&E or Furniture, Fittings and Equipment). Your sofa, rugs, side tables, chairs, lamps, art, light fixtures, outlet covers, sconces, window treatments…you get the idea.

All FF&E needs to be sourced, purchased, and procured. If you are building a custom home and paying for full-service design, that is a lot of FF&E, and as a result, a lot of sourcing, purchasing and procuring. Where there is a large amount of this, there is a large amount of investment, time and work involved.

Although it may look like it, you aren’t just paying for a coffee table. You are paying for the time it takes to specify the right table, preparation to propose it, purchase it, communication with vendors, management of order confirmations, invoicing, receiver documentation, tracking, delivery scheduling, unboxing and disposing of packaging materials, inspecting for damage, filing damage reports if necessary, resolution processes, and all of the things that happen in between.

And just like with any other profession, (think about your own profession for a second) you are paying for the knowledge an interior designer has to know where and what to look for to save hours of time and money. Years of collected experience, resources, lessons learned, and hands-on practice that enable the designer to capture the feel you want for your home or workplace, but you are not sure how to accomplish.

Now that we’ve covered all of that, we can wrap up with something a little less technical, and more comforting.

One of the best luxuries of full-service interior design is having the purchasing and procurement part included. It is often an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ part of the process for many clients, and that’s the irony of it. The luxury is that you don’t need to think about all of these time consuming inconveniences, because we are taking them on for you. All you need to do is approve what we propose, and then you are free to sit back and enjoy the process, and spend your precious time on the other very important parts of your daily life.

We are always happy to talk with you and answer any questions you may have about our design process at Gem and Clay Interiors. Give us a call, leave us a message or question in our contact form, and follow us on Instagram to see what we’re currently working on.

If you are ready to start your design journey, Book your Discovery Call with us today. We can’t wait to talk with you!