Receiving Warehouses: a gift from God / a trip through Hell

The receiving warehouse is, for most designers, an invaluable tool. But one that is the very definition of “can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em!”

On the one hand, they are a secret weapon. Ordering everything, having an offsite team accept items as they arrive, and then showing up with a team of movers for the big install allows designers to wow clients.

On the other hand, experienced designers know that receivers are notoriously challenging. They don’t always send acknowledgments for items received. They certainly don’t always thoroughly check each piece, then damage to an item is only discovered when it shows up at the clients’ house. Or the old chestnut of not bringing everything to an installation even though you sent them the full list.

Challenging as they can be, design projects at scale don’t work well without them. So a few thoughts that can be helpful:

  • Is there a receiver in your area who will take good quality photographs of each item as it’s received? Nothing is better than seeing a photo of each item as it shows up at the warehouse. And if there is damage, it’s noted immediately, and you have the images in hand to start the repair/return/refund process with the vendor.
  • Are there any receivers available to you who use online, shareable documentation? It’s all well and good to have a receiver do an excellent job receiving everything. But if all that good work leads to a series of emails buried in your email folders it takes a huge effort to get organized for an install. Whereas if there’s a receiver who uses shared Google Sheets or files in a shared Dropbox file where they can update, in real-time, documentation that you or your team can access any time, it can make project managing that much easier.
  • As with all parts of interior design, perfection shouldn’t be the expectation. But instead, seek partners who will help you when things do go wrong. Large or small, they always will. Ultimately if you can find a receiving partner who is there to make you and your team shine in front of your client and help you when things go sideways, that’s a huge asset. From the little things, do the movers on their team present well? Do they look reasonably put together? Do they smell ok (seriously)? Through to the big things, how do they deal with moments where they forgot items on your install list? Will they go above and beyond on the job site?

Receivers, in so many ways, make the interior design world go-round. So do what you can to find the best one you can.


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