Furniture in showroom

Source Smarter | Online vs In-Person Product Sourcing

So much of our day-to-day has made its way online — our communication with people, grocery shopping, making reservations, our calendars and so much more. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, around 3 out of every 10 adults say they are “almost constantly online.”

The business world is no different. We manage our businesses online, do much of our client communication online, and deal with payments online. It’s no surprise that for interior designers, many traditional processes have made their way online too. Chief among them is product sourcing.

You know how time consuming it can be to source the perfect products for your clients. Hitting the shops and showrooms, snapping photos, collecting dimensions and other details, and finally sharing your vision with your client. 

The introduction of tools like the Ivy Clipper and Room Boards which allow you to instantly source products online and easily send them to clients for approval have become a game changer. Still, online sourcing does not come without a downside.

So, what’ll it be, in-person or online product sourcing?

In-person product sourcing

There’s an undeniable benefit to sourcing products at trade showrooms or otherwise in person. It’s the advantage of the senses. Seeing the products, touching them, sitting on them — these things cannot be experienced online.

Many designers also take advantage of market shows to find new wholesale vendors. Of course, there are also those who believe that the savings and convenience of online sourcing aren’t worth the risk of ordering something without seeing it in person. Designers who source exclusively online are sometimes disappointed by items that arrive with funky details that may not have been noticeable online.

Photo by Curology

One thing remains true whether you source products in person or online — organization is key to making sure your projects run smoothly. 

That’s why designers who prefer to source offline will use handy tools like the Ivy app to stay organized. With the Ivy app designers can take pictures of products and upload them directly to their Ivy account. That means never skipping a beat as you make your way through the showroom. Snap photos on your phone and add any details you’ll want later — all in Ivy. You’ll know you have all of the details you need to order the item when you’re ready.

Online product sourcing

It’s impossible to ignore the recent changes in the design industry. While working with showrooms and reps is still popular, sourcing online is becoming more common. 

According to Inc, “the internet and ecommerce have drastically changed the way people around the world research and shop for the things they need.” It’s all about saving time, saving money and making the most of convenience. 

Designers make online sourcing work for their businesses by choosing brands they trust and always checking the return program in case an item is not as expected. Many will begin product sourcing online and then call their showroom rep to check quality or see items in person when necessary. 

According to Architectural Digest, “Ten years ago, many designers scoffed at the notion of buying furniture online without giving clients the opportunity to try pieces out in the person; today, it’s commonplace.”

Some designers say that while they don’t source 100% of their products online, they aim for online sourcing as much as possible. Moving at least some of your product sourcing efforts online can help increase profitability for your business as you’ll save both time and money.

Tools like the Ivy Clipper make online sourcing a breeze and save designers countless hours. With the Clipper at hand, Ivy designers quickly add any product to their Ivy account from any website.  

Another valuable tool for successful product sourcing is the Ivy community on Facebook. With over 3,500 active members, the Ivy Designer Network is available to all Ivy members. While the community is an amazing network for support and advice on a variety of topics, it is also a sourcing haven.

Post from the Ivy community on Facebook

Whether looking for a favorite online source for antique lock doors or material to reupholster dining room chairs — designers turn to the Ivy community. Ivy designers post multiple sourcing questions every week and get helpful responses from other designers. 

So, what’ll it be?

Studies show that today, 8 out of every 10 adults go online at least daily. As our reliance on digital tools in our personal and professional lives continues to grow, so will these figures. The interior design industry is no exception. 

In the coming years more designers will transition from in-person to online product sourcing. The time and money that online sourcing saves will continue to help designers increase profitability in a changing market.

Whether you’re currently sourcing exclusively offline, online or working with a mix of both, Ivy is here to help. Make the most of the tools at your disposal and as always, reach out with any questions. Happy sourcing!