I want to let you in on a little secret that the furniture and home decor industry may not want you to know about. And knowing this secret can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars when you’re shopping to furnish your home or rental property.
And I’ll also share a website that helps you see the best deals on some furniture and decor for your project. This episode is a good one so make sure to listen or read on below.
Listen to the Podcast
You might know that shopping around can save you money. But, did you know that you can save hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars by shopping around for furniture or home décor for your home or rental property? That’s big money.
It’s a little known secret called white labeling.
What is White Labeling?
White labeling is a common practice in the furniture and home décor industry and actually across many other markets like clothing, software, electronics, and even food and supplements.
White labeling is when a manufacturer (producer) of a product, sells that product to several retailers (stores that we buy from).
And then those stores sell the product to you. And depending on where you buy the item, the cost could vary by hundreds of dollars. Even more.
For example, let’s say a manufacturer makes a chair and they call it the David chair. They sell the David chair to buyers from several different retail stores like Pottery Barn, Wayfair, and Crate and Barrel. Who then purchases the David chair, and put it on their website to sell to you. Often, the’ll give the chair their own name so it looks specific or exclusive to them. One store might sell it as the Davin chair, one might call it the Danton chair, or they’ll call it by a completely different name because a custom name makes it harder to shop around.
And depending on who you buy the chair from, the cost could vary by quite a bit…hundreds of dollars or more.
Where are Most White Labeled Items Made?
Many of these products are manufactured overseas in China, Indonesia, etc, since labor costs are much lower in those countries, but some are also produced in here in the United States.
When I go to design market shows like those in High Point, Las Vegas, Dallas, Atlanta, or NYC…I’ll see different wholesalers or vendors selling the exact same pieces of furniture.
And then stores/retailers buy these pieces of furniture and sell them for what their customers (that’s you) will pay. If you’re a Pottery Barn shopper you might be willing to spend more money compared to someone shopping at Walmart.
White Labeling vs Private Labeling
Some retailers have their own exclusive factories whether that’s in the country or overseas. Or they work with a manufacturer to create something exclusive to them. And in that case, you won’t find the same item or chair at different stores. That’s called Private labeling.
White label is sold to several or many retailers. Private label is sold to just one company.
When companies are larger with more capital (aka money) they can private label. They’re the only ones who can resell it to you so they can charge what they want. It’s much more exclusive.
What Companies White Label?
How much time do you have? Just kidding;) The list is long for sure as it’s a common practice in the furniture industry. But to name a few:
- Pottery Barn
- Crate and Barrel
- Lulu and Georgia
- McGee and Co
- West Elm
- Serena and Lily
- Home Depot
- Restoration Hardware
How to Tell if Something is White Labeled?
Sometimes a products looks very similar, but it made with cheaper materials and is a lesser quality item. It’s common to see manufacturers copy popular designs from other manufacturers so they can capitallize on a product. In this case, it’s not white labeling, it’s a knock-off.
So how can you tell what’s white labeled and what’s a knock-off?
Well, when you’re shopping online, look carefully at some written details about the product such as: the country of origin, finish, dimensions, and photos. If they’re the same, it’s likely the same product.
If it walks like a duck, and looks like a duck, it’s likely a duck.
Spoken.io is Uncovering White Labeling
Spoken.io is a website that is dedicated to uncovering white labeled furniture and showing you, the customer, where to find the best deals on certain items. The site is easy to navigate and has great photos. But understand that it doesn’t have everything out there. There are too many products out there in the world to compare and search. So, while I encourage you to check it, just know that they won’t have every item under the sun that you might want for your home.
From what I’ve read, the founders of Spoken.io purchased a coffee table from Urban Outfitters that actually was made by the company Sauder and he found the same coffee table at Home Depot for half the price. After that experience, the idea for Spoken.io was born.
When on the site, you’ll click on the item you’re interested in and they’ll list all the places they know of that sell that item as well as how much it costs so you can buy it for the least amount. I don’t think they do affiliate linking so I’m not sure how they’re making money at this time, but maybe that’ll change in the future.
Examples of White Labeling
I have a few real life examples to share of three different items that were white labeled. I found two of these on Spoken.io and one I know of as a designer since I know a visit a lot of furniture vendors at trade shows.
- Alden 3 Light Floor Lamp is sold at Pottery Barn for $319 and also at Home Depot for $123. That’s a difference of $196.
- Console table sold at Pottery Barn for $2199 and Houzz for $1729. That’s a difference of $371.
- Small Sinclair Ottoman is sold at McGee & Co for $500 and Burke Decor for $424. That’s a difference of $76.
Note: Online pricing and links change often so while this is accurate at the time of writing this post, things can often change.
Online Shopping Tip
Whenever you’re shopping online do a quick Google Search of the name of the item to see if you can get it at a better price. Remember, sometimes companies change the name of the item while some are reselling it using the same given name.
When I did a quick search for the Eloise Pendant from the manufacturer Regina Andrews, I saw different pricing online as shown below.
Note: If you see two drastically different prices, you might be comparing two different sizes of an item, like a small versus a large. Do a quick comparison and make sure the dimensions are the same before you get your hopes up that you scored a great deal.
Is White Labeling Legal?
White labeling isn’t some shady scam. It’s a legal and common business model used across many industries. Wholesalers sell to retailers, who sell the item to customers (you).
You might be wondering why you can’t just buy directly from the manufacturer for the lowest price. Well, the truth is that is too complicated for a manufacturer to have hundreds of thousands of customers in their database. Instead, by selling merchandise to approved retail stores, vendors, and desighers, it’s easier to manage accounts and orders.
It also allows retailers to find and offer the best curated, hand-picked items to offer to their clients and customers.
Final thoughts on White Labeling
I do recommend that you do your homework and do a quick Google search to see if the same item can be bought elsewhere at a lower price.
If it makes you feel better shopping at higher end stores, just know that’s your ego getting involved. Does it really matter in the end if you bought your lamp at Pottery Barn or Home Depot? Maybe to you it does. If so, just know you’re paying more for the exact same items. If you’re on the hunt for deals and hoping to stretch your dollars (this is especially the true for real estate investors) then it’s worth the time to do some homework and shop around.
In the end, shop where you feel trust and are comfortable, but just know that someone else might sell the exact same item for less.
How to work with me or learn from me
If you’d like to begin the design process–whether that’s a full remodel or a funriture update and room refresh you connect with me on my Contact page. Or, you can work with me through my design online DIY courses and workshops.
Room Design Essentials teaches you the A-Z of designing a space quickly so you can design and decorate with confidence. It works for both homeowners and real estate investors.
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