Herman Miller Singapore
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Our base trade is mainly in architecture and development of properties, particularly in Europe, South East Asia and moving more to China in the recent year. Our offices and partnered affilated sites are located in New York, Britain, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and China. Not only are we involved in the architecture, we provide full furnishing to our clients as a full package. Due to movement of material around the world, we have many containers shipped globally.
In around 2008, we were looking for small partners to utilise our shipping containers to fill the rest of the empty spaces in it. That’s when a group of clients from the HWZ community contacted us to purchase high-value bulky items and send them to Singapore with our containers, it carried on for more than a decade. It was initially done out of goodwill but we figured out that this small project has deeper benefits that can affect our company indirectly and tremendously even when there’s no direct monetary gain. This will be explained below. We had made great effort to make this disrupting trading module complete and it had developed so much. Our system is so sustainable like a hydra that is easy to multiply and carry on.
How did it begin?
The first import was for our offices and project clients started in 2001 but actual mass ordering for the public started in 2008.
We always have containers of goods coming from the USA and different parts of Europe. We have contracts with shipping companies but our containers are normally not totally filled and we offered the space to people who wish to hog on. People from the HWZ community heard of it, contacted us and started to request to tag along with their Herman Miller orders to fill up out our containers. We think it’s fine because they are big and easy to handle, and we are very familar with the products which we purchase regularly for our cilents. The requests never stop. If you do a reverse calculation, the shipping charges you are paying for is about US$100-US$200, pretty affordable for a pallet from across the globe.
Initially, it was done out of goodwill to help buyers, who wanted to purchase the chairs but couldn’t afford the local price tag. Or users who prefer to get a chair that is made in USA than those sold locally that are sometimes made in China. Later, we figured out how to better benefit us from the process.
What’s the benefit for us?
The reason why the project is always sustainable is that we use these purchases to use up our fund in our affiliated companies based overseas. As the corporate taxes in many of the countries we operate is high. This process lowers the payable corporate taxes significantly, in a legitimate way. Also transfers our cashflow with little or at projectable cost.
The huge amount of tax saved, or the result of how money flows back to Singapore makes it worth our time and effort. So this is a win-win situation and it does benefit us well.
Where did we get the stock?
We only conduct mass order for high-quality products that are hard to replicate and of high value. There are no fake Herman Miller chairs in the market.
For Herman Miller, we order the chairs directly from USA authorised websites, always delivered to our office in New York or affiliated company in Washington. Then shipped out from the nearest port. We only get from established sellers, including Amazon. Sometimes we walk in and order from the stores, sometimes we order them online. We are never fixed to one vendor to enjoy competitive pricing.
Do we only mass order Herman Miller products?
No, we also import expensive and high-quality coffee, high-end espresso machines, premium mattresses, leather furniture, branded watches and more.
Why are you the only reseller who can last for such a long time?
You may occasionally find a Herman Miller seller who claims to be also able to sell Herman Miller chairs at an affordable price. Sometimes selling on social media sites, sometimes with their own sites. You seldom see them lasting for more than 1-2 years. Most of the time, it’s because they are actually selling refurbished units passed off as new and got discovered. That’s normally the case if the prices look too good to be true. There are many companies that refurbish the chairs and retail them as “near-new” condition in the USA. Normally they spray a fresh coat of paint, brush and vacuum the chairs, change the casters. It does look new but the mesh had lost its structural integrity over time and the mechanism had its wear and tear. Sometimes, the sellers are not even aware that their stock are refurbished units.
It could also be due to warranty issues as HM actually blacklists vendors who are found exporting their chairs. With just one chair’s information, it is enough for them to trace back all the chairs that were ever sold to the same vendor. HM most likely have the vendor blacklisted and void all the warranty that are linked. This means that all the chairs that were once sold by the vendor, are not covered by any form of warranty. Since the vendor is no longer able to receive support, likewise the reseller in Singapore. The reseller normally dissolves its company or website and becomes uncontactable as there’s no way he can sustain the twelve years warranty. Warranty isn’t transferrable, it can only be honoured to the original purchaser, so those buyers are totally stuck.
We don’t have this issues as the company that represent us to purchase the chairs, are MMC that have a global presence. It’s absolutely logical for our chairs to be found overseas and in huge amount. Also, we have a dedicated staff in our office in the USA to claim the warranty. We still have other processes to keep your warranty safe, and even transferable. That’s why we last for a decade while many sellers can’t last for more than 2 years.
We are an organised company, we even set up a system of aftersales service. The details of our system can be found below. Not only do we have an organised system to obtain parts warranty from USA directly, we have our technicians to provide the labour if required.
Is there clearance stock available in the market?
As far as we know, all chairs are manufactured on demand. Only when there’s an order, will they manufacture the chairs. Most stockists don’t keep much stock as the items are too bulky and require a lot of storage space. For bulk orders, they are often delivered from Herman Miller directly so most stockists don’t require to keep much stock. Herman Miller chairs are sold easily. It is unlikely that any stockists will need to do clearance sales to clear their inventory. It’s also quite unlikely for any retailers to hold stock older than 12 months, especially the Aeron chairs.
There are many sellers who pass off refurbished units as new and claim to be clearance stock. Matter of fact, there are many who don’t even know that the stockist they are dealing with is dealing with refurbished chairs. They are unable to offer any form of warranty and often disappear after retailing for a few months or years. Prices are pretty well controlled in every nation, if the prices are too good to be true, then it’s probably not.
Why create www.unwantedimports.com?
The website was created to facilitate easier ordering and invoicing. We always have users who want to claim under their company and require a proper invoicing system. On our website, you can download the quotation and submit your claims.
At the backend, when you place an order or submit a claim. The email notifies the right people automatically and things unfold by itself.
How is it operated in Singapore?
We have a few agreements with a few companies to handle the logistics and repairs. This keeps the operating cost little and gets things more organised in place. That’s how we managed to keep it running for more than a decade.
Under the agreement, we don’t really have to pay rent for a small storage space. This keeps our operating cost at bare minimal in that aspect. We outsource all repairs to a company that is more than qualified in repairing the office chairs. We haven’t encountered any problem since day 1 of operation. Of course, problems like wear and tear on the mesh can’t be fixed or claimed. We are working on a viable solution for those facing such woes though.
How is the after sales handled?
According to Herman Miller’s policy, warranty is not transferable. Since the warranty was purchased with our company. The replacement parts have to be filed in by us which we are happy to do and been doing for the past decade.
Base on our records, 95% of the faults reported are coming from the wheels. They endure the most wear and tear, and pressure from usage.
We ordered an inventory of 8,000 high quality casters on standby to handle this specific issue, this is grossly above what we need. We also streamlined the claim process for the casters, making the claim easy and free of charge except for the local delivery charges if it’s required. We do not repair the casters, we replace the casters 1 to1 and replace all 5 casters if we find it’s necessary even if you don’t ask for it. You can replace the casters on your own, we have the instructions on the troubleshooting page.
As for the remaining 5% of the faults reported. Some cases are no issues, some cases are easily solvable by the user. IE: Placing back a loose cable, a spray of lubricant, etc. Some conditions are not covered by the warranty due to wear and tear or abuse. It’s subjected to approval like any claim cases. The material used are all subjected to stress tests and should last through proper use.
The number of remaining cases that require real repairs at best is less than 3% of the total, which we have standby components for most scenarios. You will only pay for the transportation fee to and fro our service point in Singapore during the warranty period. In some countries, the local authorised agent will charge you a hefty service fee in any case for any warranty claim. Even if you send the chair back yourself, not for us. If you are willing to send the chair to us, you are unlikely needed to pay for anything.
Also in most countries that follow Herman Miller’s warranty policy, the local agents do not allow the buyers to transfer the warranty. Making your resale value lesser as the new users will not enjoy the full benefit of the warranty. Not for us. We had attached a few tamper proof serial stickers on the chairs so whichever owner who has the chair will be taken care of. This will make it easier when you want to sell the chair for some reasons.
Can you tell me more about the warranty and how to claim?
We claim the warranty from USA on your behalf, so email us with the necessary information. Warranty claims are based on Herman Miller’s approval. They will send the spare to our USA office upon approval, which we then transfer to Singapore. In Singapore, we will allocate standby spare to provide you first if it’s available. We do not have 100% of spares on standby, but we have spares to cover at least 95% of the cases.
The necessary information to submit is the serial sticker and photo/video of the fault. We will also need your order number to withdraw the proof of purchase. If you are one of our early buyers who bought from the forum, you will need to provide us with the nickname or email you used.
Over the years, we identified a few problems in this process.
- Many users claim that they lost the serial number on their chair. Many deem that the original sticker barely sticks for long in our climate.
- Fraud cases of users abusing the system by sticking the sticker on another chair to claim warranty support.
- Unhappy distributors trying to track our sellers and limit our supply vendors.
Point 1 is obviously related to buyers. Point 2 and 3 can eventually lead to issues for our buyers too.
Thus WEF April 2017, we have added a more durable and tamper proof serial sticker. It has a unique SO# under the chair in place of the serial number. We also stick similar serial stickers around the chairs where it’s less likely to “drop off”. A photo of the SO# will be used for the warranty claim.
WEF Mid May 2018, we add a few more identity seals printed at the hidden sides of the chairs directly.
The original serial sticker will now be under our safeguard so after sales will be easier managed and protected for all parties.
What will happen if we decided to cease service?
In times of recession, or with the invasion of disrupting trade modules. Of course, anything is possible and that’s a valid question. Even big authorised local distributors are going under nowadays, crushed by the huge overhead of rental and labour. What happens to support from any agent?
For us, we split the issue into two precincts.
- Finding a solution for our users.
If we deem that the mass order for Herman Miller should cease for whatever reason. That does not mean that our support for users will cease. It’s evident that we did not cease support for the other Mass Order projects, some are even bigger.
We do not oversell and had done calculated projections. We control the number of chairs we sell a month, usually less than 10 chairs. From the projected numbers, we standby a proportional amount of spares. These spares had been paid for, and we have no use for them other than providing support for our buyers when necessary.
- Keeping the mass order sustainable.
We always run calculations and negotiate better agreements to keep our cost to the bare minimum, keeping us lightweight. Our negotiations are base on top-tier B2B quotations which we negotiate as a whole with our other trades. As the benefit for us to remain the mass order is strong as explained above, it’s very unlikely for us to let it cease.
If we do ultimately cease in operation, we will pass our sales records to our appointed agency that had been handling all our repairs, assemblies, etc. They charge users by per case, which is SGD70. They also have a deposit from us, which should last at least 3 years of services.
Are the chairs new and genuine?
We can only purchase new chairs to qualify for our tax reduction in Europe, which is the main benefit for us to organise the mass order. The more expensive the product, the more rebates we have.
We only obtain new chairs, not refurbished units passed off as new. Our vendor account can get pretty good discounts due to our large purchase over the years, so we really don’t see a point to buy or resell refurbished chairs at the moment.
There are no fake Herman Millers in the market.
We had been around for a decade and had been very transparent, running the mass order from various sites then anchored at Hardwarezone forums. If there were any deception, it would be exposed from the start.
All our chairs sold till April 2017 were issued with the original serials, there were hundreds of chairs sold. We later replaced the serials with our own tamper proof stickers due to various reasons stated here. Anyway, the serial stickers won’t be that important to buyers because only the original purchaser can file for warranty. Which had been happening for almost a decade. We even have our technicians to fix them up so the service that you can enjoy is as good as it can be.
If we were to sell refurbished or fake chairs, we would have sold them from the start and should have unlimited stock since there are so many used ones in the United States. Instead, you will always find that our chairs are often out of stock.
Why Herman Miller and not other brands?
There are definitely other brands but the Herman Miller chairs are the most recognised and recommended by any orthopaedics. Those Herman Miller models used by the Singapore Ministries and major financial institutes are mostly the lower end Mirra or Aeron range in the most basic settings, not fully loaded with all the features. The chairs we carry and recommend are mostly the higher end ones, otherwise stated. With all the functions loaded like forwarding tilt, posture fit lumbar support, recline limiter, hard floor casters, headrest, etc.
Many buyers deem that it’s definitely worth to buy from us. As the Herman Miller chairs we sell are purchased from USA, are made in USA and sold cheaper. A better choice than those sold in APAC, made in China at higher prices.
Over the years of mass ordering and trying so many brands. We actually figured out who are the OEM partners supplying most of the components to the big brands. If we are unable to commence with the Herman Miller products, we may invent our own chair. Getting the latest components with the best ergonomics, of the best quality and sell them at a fraction of the price we see today. That should benefit a wider pool of users.
No longer will you need to order from USA websites and import in individually, we do it on your behalf. We don’t stock a lot, just a tiny amount of less than 10 chairs every 1 to 2 month. Not sufficient for bulk orders to corporates but sufficient enough to provide for a few happy individuals.
It’s worth noting that during the same time we started the mass order. The local chain and popularity of Herman Miller in Singapore grew amazingly huge rather than having any dent to their sales. The power of social media, recommendation on Singapore’s most popular forum Hardwarezone, particularly from our mass order seemingly gave them a boost instead. As with all our other mass orders projects.
We never had a problem with warranty, we have a long list of vendors to call in the United States. Different from Singapore, which been long monopolized by a single provider. We get the kind of support we can get from USA which is excellent of gold standard. We have strong relationships with repair specialists who are dedicated to repairing Herman Miller chairs.
We the organisers, many of us worked for MMCs and we strive to carry the same level of good service to you.