The cost of office supplies can add up quickly for small and large businesses alike. Bundle1 reports that the average cost for office supplies in the United States is $19 per month, with the top 10 percent of spenders paying out as much as $39 per month to buy supplies.
If you want to trim this area of your business budget, you can incorporate some simple ways to cut costs and get office supplies on the cheap.
One of the best ways to make sure you are getting office supplies on the cheap is to know what you are spending in comparison to what others charge. Although it might be too time-consuming to track the price of every item every time you need to make a purchase, it’s best, at a minimum, to identify your biggest expenses and do some comparison shopping on those items at least once a quarter. You can buy from the lowest-price provider or, if you have a supplier you like to work with and you find an item for a lower price somewhere else, you can ask your regular supplier to match the lower price.
Avoid Brand Loyalty
Being brand loyal when it comes to office supplies is sure to cost you. If you can buy generic brand items or items that are on sale at the time of purchase, you could save significantly over the cost of name-brand products.
Take Advantage of Promotions and Coupons
Most companies that sell office supplies offer periodic coupons or special deals. Some have promotions on an ongoing basis. For example, it is common to receive dollars off a purchase if you return ink cartridges when they are empty. Ask about any special offers or deals that may be available before you order. If you receive a coupon in the mail, see if you can stock up during the promotion on items you will need in the near future.
Consider Local Suppliers—Especially at Back-to-School Time
Sometimes, the best way to buy cheap office supplies is to go shopping at your local warehouse store or even your local dollar store. Although it might be less convenient to visit a retail store than to order online, it could be worthwhile if the savings are significant.
Many business owners offer back-to-school promotions designed to lure parents and returning students into their stores. There is no reason that you can’t take advantage of these deals as well—the low-price pens and paper marketed to school children will work just as well in a professional setting.
Buy in Bulk
Many suppliers will offer discounts if you buy in bulk or set up standing orders. If you have a supplier already, ask what kind of discount she is willing to offer you if you place larger orders at once. If she isn’t willing to offer any, consider shopping around for other suppliers.
Consider Unconventional Solutions
Although all of these tips can help you save money on your office-supply purchases, sometimes an out-of-the-box idea can provide the most significant savings. For example, in Augusta, Ga., some city commissioners have suggested that the city cut back on its $500,000-per-year paper and office-supply expenses by using iPads.2 In an increasingly high-tech and electronic world, such an idea could be a great investment that pays for itself over time.
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