Nothing will slow down a productive afternoon like that sinking feeling when the printer demands ink or the presentations have to be out the door but you just can't put your hands on the right binders.
The key to keeping your people moving – while not spending willy-nilly or buying exactly the wrong products – is making time to understand office-supply shopping online. Taking full advantage of the Web sites of major office stores can:
- Save time. Most offer free next-day delivery on orders of just $50.
- Save money. Superstores often use loss leaders to drive sales.
- Save your sanity, if you learn how to use online shopping tools.
Cut Web time to a minimumOffice stores online now offer favorites lists, one-click ordering and even personal sites co-branded with your company's logo with pre-set shopping categories. Lock down prices, quantities, and your credit data and the intern could do the monthly buy.
More than 20 employees? Ask about discount programsIf you find your spending is regular and tends to mount to hundreds of dollars at a go, better to talk with your office store's small business rep about volume discounts and special small business ordering Web sites.
Buy store brandsGrocery stores and drug stores have done it for years, now office stores will happily sell you their own brand of their highest volume (and highest margin) products, sometimes at substantial savings. It's a win-win if there ever was one.
Go the warehouse-shopping routeOffice stores will often cut you a deal for buying in bulk. Of course, regular warehouse stores, too, sell plenty of office supplies, from pads and pens to furniture and electronics.
Get personalized office products and servicesNEBS is known more for its extensive lineup of personalized business forms, checks, greeting cards and other promotional items for small business, but it is also a great place to get office supplies and equipment.
Comparison shop your way to savingsOnline shopping giants are crowding into the office store space. The advantage they offer is multiple vendors on one search, which you can then sort to find the best price.
- Short on cash? Online office stores can extend 90 days or offer you a store credit card.
- Keep a leash on spending by using office-store site services for small business to generate monthly spend reports.
- Most online stores offer rewards programs that kick back a few percentage points for your loyalty. If you buy the same things often and are happy with the delivery, this is a good deal.
- It's always a good idea to centralize buying through a single person in your company or two. If not, supplies can pile up in closets and people order more without looking.