Once the lights have been selected, we then ensure that they are purchased as economically and as efficiently as possible.
1. the lights are invoiced and shipped by the supplier. This is likely to happen when the quantity from a single supplier is large and/or when the delivery is not to the UK. (We can't do this when the manufacturer does not supply directly on princple, of course.) Or:
2. if it is more convenient, we supply. This may happen when the goods are coming from outwith the EU, or when quantities are small. Our client has the convenience of:
-- just one invoice (ours) from a UK-based firm, as opposed to opening trading acounts with a number of foreign companies, and then having to handle the paperwork and the foriegn currency payments
-- delivery from just one UK firm, as opposed to having to deal with multiple imports. If the project requires lights from several suppliers, we can consolidate deliveries in our warehouse and organize the shipping to the correct site ourselves, precisely in accordance with the instructions.
When we supply, the goods are delivered to us first, giving us the opportunity to verify that the correct lights have been shipped, and that they are not incomplete, faulty or damaged. Because we are the specialists, we know what to look for. If there is a problem, we can deal with it straightaway, stepping in before lights that would have been rejected are delivered to site. We can sometimes carry out repairs ourselves, saving the time that would otherwise be spent sending the light back to the factory, and then awaiting a replacement.
It should never be more expensive to buy from us (if it were, we'd have no business). Sometimes we are cheaper:
-- we may be able to give a quantity discount when a lot of lights have been ordered from several different suppliers, but the quantity from any one is too low to trigger a further discount from them
-- because of our close relationship with suppliers, we may be able to negotiate a bigger discount than our clients ever could. We always pass these discounts on
-- because we know more about decorative lighting than anyone else, we often know who makes a light that is being sold under another name by a reseller. In such cases, we see if we can source more economically by buying direct from the factory, cutting out the middlemen ("disintermediation").
As our regular clients know, if we cannot match or better the manufacturer's price, we inform them. If they'd rather source the specific light more cheaply elsewhere (they don't always, because the security and convenience of working through us is worth more to them than the potential saving), we give them the contact details of who they can buy from.
We quote in the supplier's currency, the conversion to sterling being done at the time of ordering (though, for budgeting purposes, we can give a sterlng equivalent at that day's spot rate). Note that anybody quoting in sterling for lights sourced from abroad has to inflate their price in order to protect themselves from adverse currency fluctuations between the time they quote and the time that the purchase is made.
As proof of our price competitveness, we identify the makers and model references on our sweb site, and in correspondence. Be very suspicious of any reseller that does not do this! Why do they: if you were buying BMW, Prada, Cartier, the seller would not conceal the brand name from you. Perhaps they know that you could get a better price and/or service elsewhere....
All these attributes are of particular value to purchasing agents. Fortunately, we don't have our own lighting collection or our own factories. Instead, we work with more suppliers than anybody else (including small anonymous specialist factories to which larger brands subcontract). So we can go to whoever is appropriate for a specific light or project. When a real light has been specified, that will be the maker (we don't copy). Otherwise, we look for the best fit, considerng the design, materials, quality required, target price and lead time. When custom lights have been proposed, we are best placed to check if there are any suitable catalogue alternatives. If there are, soucing will usually be quicker and cheaper.
Because we have our own warehousing and logistics facilities, we an handle the whole lighting package. One supplier, one invoice, one delivery. Our service suits the public areas of hotels, which tend to involve small quantities from several suppliers. The purchasing agent doesn't have the time to track down and negotiate the best deal from every single one (bearing in mind that they are sourcing everything else in the hotel, most of the items being of more material value than these lights), whereas that is what we are doing all the time. (Though maybe our most useful sdervice is sorting out incomplete, incorrect, inappropriate or illegal specifications.)
...the result is that our clients get our service and expertise thrown in for free! And our suppliers benefit, because of the marketing and sales administration that we do for them, and because of the grief from which we protect them (export departments have very few staff!).