Why are delivery costs so high?
Pretty much prior to 2005 no furniture retailers charged for delivery and few charged for serviced. Declining profit margins within the furniture industry forced everyone to look at operating costs. Everyone realized that the shift to manufacturing in China coupled with easy access to information changed the profit margins that had existed for decades on retail furniture goods.
The largest item to stand out was, “Free Delivery”. While profit margins were declining the cost of vehicles, transportation, insurance, and employees with benefits was rapidly increasing. Delivery services were no longer the small percentage cost goods and services that it had been for decades.
Furniture is bigger, bulkier, and requires more assembly today than it every has in the past. It can be a challenge to maneuver in narrow hallways and through doorways designed for consumer friendliness. Furniture is not easily shipped by UPS or the USPS as it exceeds their small package truck and staffing abilities. Often two and sometimes four skilled tradesman are required to move furniture pieces from a truck to their final destination in a home. It should not be surprising that many large furniture pieces must be disassembled or moved through portals like windows and twisty hallways. A typical sofa, chair, and love seat often takes two guys and a truck at least an hour to locally drive, drop off, setup, and return. That cost is pretty close to $120. That leaves little profit margin for a furniture retailer to keep the lights on. Delivery of furniture is actually a bargain.
How come my furniture is not assembled?
In the 1990’s furniture manufacturing moved overseas to the Far East. The cost for a skilled craftsman was 1/100 of the same labor costs in the USA. The most significant cost to manufacturing furniture became shipping across vast oceans. To maximize shipping efficiency many furniture products were redesigned in ways that highlighted compactness and overlooked necessary assembly.
Until the 1990’s and the switch to manufacturing in the Far East a dining room chair arrived to the furniture dealer completely assembled. Very little assembly was required. Contrast that with today where the retailer receives a box of small but finished parts which must be assembled into that same chair. A single chair that once could be unpacked and assembled in two minutes now takes 10 to 15 minutes. The real cost of that chair suddenly jumped dramatically.