Office Supplies: Online Or On Main Street?
Office supplies may not sound all that exciting, but without them your business just might go out of business. You need office and business products.
Paper, masking tape, pencils and pens, glue, packing materials, ink cartridges - chances are, you already have a shopping list in your head. You just have to write it down.
Before You Buy A Single Pencil
Office supplies is a line item in any business. They’re also tax deductible so plan, make a list of what you need, and keep your receipts.
Develop a budget. If you don’t need it right now, don’t buy it right now. Determine the essentials (the printer needs replacement toner cartridges), review past receipts, and build a budget that does the job, but doesn’t bust the bank.
Do some comparison shopping. Choose a few items from your list that any office supply store carries, like printer paper, or shipping envelopes. Compare prices item by item to ensure you’re comparing apples to apples.
If a ream of printer paper costs $4.26 at this office supply store, but it’s only $2.99 online, open an online account and save. Don’t forget to factor in shipping costs versus the cost of your time to go to the brick-and-mortar store.
Which costs less?
Ask about return policies, shipping costs, bulk discounts and other incentives to get your business’ business.
Conduct an inventory. What’s in the supply closet? If you have enough, don’t buy more until you need it. Also, factor in reusable office supplies. Sure, your pen may run out of ink but you can re-use paper clips, file folders, project and report binders - materials on which you can save a few dollars, and when you’re growing a new business, a few bucks here, a few bucks there, and it adds up.
Use off-brands. You can pay more for the branded white glue, or you can buy the store brand, or Bob’s White Glue, and save a little. If the store brand is as good as the name brand, why pay more for something no customer will ever see.
Online Or The Downtown Store
There are advantages to using online office supply stores AND real-world stores.
For example, a lot of consumers want to see it, touch it, see it in operation, look at alternatives - in other words, they want to be in that big box store, and if you’re buying expensive items, it’s a good idea to actually visit a store to see the latest in digital technology.
If you need it today, you can get it today if you drive to the office supply store in the mall.
If customer service is needed, the real-world store is a better option, obviously. These stores also offer next day delivery of heavy items that you might not want to lift, assemble, or configure.
A real world stationery store can deliver to your main office and remote site office locations all in the same day, without taking up your employee’s time.
The real-world store will also display its return policies, or you can ask the sales rep about returns, re-stocking fees, and other little surprises that just may cost your company money.
Online business supply stores also deliver benefits and features not to be overlooked.
Online buying is convenient. Do it from your desk in the office. No drive time.
Product and brand selection are often more expansive with online stores, providing more buying options for you.
Price comparisons between online outlets is a snap. Get more for less when you compare the cost of the item and shipping and handling costs.
You get your order fast, and shipping is often free, or at least, reasonable, though if you pick it up at the store in town, well, shipping is whatever it costs in time and gas to get there and back.
Whether you simply need a new stapler, or an entire suite of office furniture and supplies, it pays to shop around in this highly-competitive market. The more you research, the more you’re likely to save.