Shopping online for office furniture can open the door to selection that would otherwise be impossible to find. With many different styles and colors, there is an ability to fit almost anyone’s specific needs. Many of the online retailers in 2017 are even offering free shipping, which means there is no longer a need to transport bulky furniture back from a local office superstore. The question is what does free shipping really mean? It’s likely these free services are enough to satisfy most customers’ requirements. However, some customers will be unable to accept large truck shipments and may have to look at paying for additional services or avoid shopping online altogether.

Understanding Customers Expectations
Being in business since 2005 and offering free shipping since the start has taught us lot about customers’ expectations of shipping. For most, free shipping means items are brought to your front door or into your office space. This expectation has become even more so with the explosion of growth from Amazon. The problem with office furniture is that so many items vary in size and weight. Some items that are small enough to ship FedEx or UPS ground will be brought to the door, while others such as desks are much too large. The line becomes even more blurred when large quantities are ordered.

Unfortunately, the office furniture industry has not done a good job explaining this to their customers. They require customers to look at the fine print on policy pages which would include a line similar to; all items ship free via most economical method. This means that all items will be shipping free, but most likely bulky desks or large quantities will be arriving on the back of a semi-truck. While some online retailers have gotten better with a notice that items ship tailgate or back of truck. The majority will leave it to be a surprise when the tracking is sent or even worse, when the carrier arrives.

How Does the Industry Get Better at This?
So the question is, how does the office furniture industry get better at educating the consumer about the shipping practices of large items? Making the information available on more than a policy page is a good start. Because shipment types can vary depending on quantities of items ordered, retailers need to do a better job of getting in touch with their customers to explain how their furniture will be shipped. They also need to be providing better definitions of how freight deliveries arrive and what their limitations might be. 2017 needs to be a year where retailers include delivery appointments at no charge, something that still is not an industry standard. Eliminating the surprise involved with freight deliveries will allow the customer to better prepare for their delivery. This is a standard practice for BTOD.

Dock to Dock and Tailgate Deliveries Explained
Dock to dock and tailgate deliveries are the typical services included at no additional charge. Below we explain in greater detail what to expect with each type of delivery. If a customer requires extra assistance, additional services may be available for a charge.

Loading dock – This service is available to companies that have a loading dock at their facility. A loading dock is a raised platform that allows semi-trucks to back into and easily roll pallets off their trailers.

Tailgate – The driver will pull up to the nearest curb & bring the pallets to the back or “tail” of the truck. It is the customer’s responsibility to unload the packages from the back of the truck and bring them inside. A delivery appointment will be included from some retailers.

When accepting a tailgate delivery, drivers will assist by rolling the pallet to the back of the trailer and break the pallet (un-band and/or remove the outside plastic wrapping). From this point the customer is responsible for pulling the boxes off the back of the truck. If this is being shipped truck because of the quantity of smaller boxes, this will be very manageable for a single person. If the items are large case goods (desks or files) a second hand for help is needed. Being prepared with a dolly will make the process a lot easier for all parties involved.

Lift Gate and Inside Delivery Services Explained
When dock to dock and tailgate deliveries are not a realistic option, customers should be given the opportunity to add additional services. These services include a lift gate or inside delivery. Trucking companies have many different prices for each service; unfortunately there is no set standard. There is however a set standard on the service you can expect to receive from each.

Lift Gate Service
Lift gate – The driver will pull to the nearest curb and lower the packages off the truck to ground level. It is the customer’s responsibility to bring the packages inside. A delivery appointment will be included from some retailers.

Inside delivery – Inside delivery includes delivery to the nearest dry threshold. This service is to the main floor only, without any stairs, or a garage. If the package or crate does not fit through the door, then there will be extra charges for breaking down the delivery. The delivery will not be brought up to any other floors but the main floor without incurring additional charges. A delivery appointment will be included.

Depending on the brand, the quantity which shipments change from a ground service to freight can vary. It’s for this reason sales reps need to be better at informing customers pre-purchase. For customers ordering online that might not speak to someone to the retailer, follow up calls and emails need to be made. By doing this retailers will greatly reduce problems that arise when customers receive their shipment, but needed additional services.

Inside Delivery to a Home or a 2nd Floor Office Suite
The question that BTOD is asked when prompting customers about truck deliveries is, “how can I get items inside my home or office suite?” Unfortunately this type of delivery requires specialty shippers, called final mile or last mile carriers. In our experience, these types of carriers have not provided the level of service expected for the price they charge. Going with a last mile carrier will often delay shipments to customers up to four additional weeks. Because the furniture has been handed off to multiple carriers, the chance for damage greatly increases. In situations where damage has occurred, future replacement deliveries could be delayed even longer. Here are a couple reviews of well-known last mile carriers, MXD Delivery and XPO Logistics. BTOD no longer offers these types of services.