Not so long ago your only option to purchase office supplies was at a locally owned and operated office supply store. With the advent of the internet and big box retail stores the game has changed. Here are several strategies to help you save money on office supplies.
Necessary SuppliesTake a look at the office supplies that you are ordering each time. Ask yourself if there are any "nice to have" supplies (as opposed to "must have"). Also look at the quality of the items that you are purchasing. Do you need to buy brand name supplies or can you use the generic store brand? Can you use a thinner and less expensive packing tape? A few dollars on the most frequently purchased office supplies will add up to big savings.
Compare Prices, Shop OnlineDo your homework and compare prices on the items that you most frequently buy. You don't have to physically visit each store if they have a website that lists the items that they sell. If fact, you can do all of your office supply purchasing online. Be careful when comparing online prices by factoring in shipping costs. Some online retailers offer free shipping if you order a minimum amount of supplies.
Negotiate a Purchase ContractIf your company purchases a significant amount of office supplies every month you can negotiate a purchase contract with your supplier. This strategy only applies to larger companies that have over 100 employees. The key to negotiating a contract in your favor is to first identify the supplies you buy most often (in terms of dollars spent). Concentrate your negotiations on these items and if you have to give in on any items, then you will know which ones are the less frequently purchased.
Bulk OrderingJust because you’re a small businesses doesn't mean that you can't save money. Look for items that you can purchase in bulk. For example, instead of buying paper in 500 sheet packs, consider buying a case of 5,000 sheets. However, there are two tradeoffs: (1) you will have to tie up some money in order to buy the larger quantities and (2) you will have to store the bulk items that you buy.
Tips and Tricks
- Low prices on small volume or inexpensive items like pens, pencils and paper are not a good indicator of overall prices. Stores that under cut their prices on these items will often charge more on other items to make up the profit that they sacrificed.
- Consider warehouse clubs for items that you purchase most frequently. There are two drawbacks: (1) selection is limited and may change and (2) you must travel to the store to purchase the items.
- Set up an account with your supplier. Larger supply companies can provide you with a statement of what you have ordered over the past month or year. This information is normally used to charge back supply costs in larger companies, but it can also be used to negotiate a better contract with your supllier.
- Purchase your office supplies with a rewards credit card or ask if they have a separate customer loyalty/rewards program.