One of the biggest hang-ups for clients when they work with interior designers is that we don’t take returns.
So why don’t we take returns?
Interior designers shop at dozens - sometimes hundreds - of different places. Most to-the-trade places don’t take returns. So really, it’s not the interior designer’s policy - it’s the vendor’s policy. My contract says that if I can get a return I will - but most items are not returnable.
Which means interior designers are often left in the hard position in the middle of a client who doesn’t want a piece and a vendor who won’t take it back.
When an interior designer selects a product for a client, they aren’t selecting dozens like it for dozens of other clients. It’s personalized for the client. We just don’t have the same volume of clients and purchases that many retailers (who accept returns) do. And even when you purchase a sofa from a retailer and choose something they don’t stock - most of the time the retailer won’t accept that return either.
Most items that interior designers are selecting are from smaller manufacturers, which means they are made for the client when you order them, with multiple options. Like interior designers, they don’t have the volume of clients who will purchase that same sofa, so it’s not practical to put it into storage and inventory to sell to someone in the future. That opportunity may never happen.
Unless an interior designer has a shop or storefront, they will usually have to store any returned inventory at a cost to them, so not only will they have to absorb the cost of the return, but also the cost to store it. Without a storefront we won’t have people shopping with us, unless they are our clients.
What may feel to clients like interior designers get a higher markup or margin compared to retailers, it’s usually the other way around. Our markup and margins are much smaller compared to retailers who do accept returns. Therefore, interior designers don’t have the costs of returns built into our fees like retailers do to cover regular returns.
When a client wants to make a return, it’s usually not to the manufacturer, but the interior designer has to absorb that cost and hope they can find a place for it in the future.