For those who have responsibility for procuring stationery and other items that are necessary for the day to day running of a business, it can be difficult to keep on top of all the options. Balancing value for money with quality is a key consideration, while sourcing the right option for each kind of product can be time consuming. Here are some key tips and tricks for procuring office supplies.
Office stationery is a necessity to any business. While it might not generate profit and sales, it is something everyone notices when it is missing or not doing the job it should. There are many things to consider when procuring office stationery. This includes price, quality and quantity. How quickly you get through certain items is also a consideration, as you don’t want to be constantly procuring new items. Looking at any policies and regulations the business has in relation to procurement is important too.
Here are 8 tips for procuring stationery while balancing quality with budget.
1. What Are The Requirements?
Firstly, it is important to consider what exactly you need. Make a list of all the items you require and then research the best options for each item. This will help keep you focused on everything you require. Keeping a running spreadsheet of everything you usually procure makes the process faster in the future too.
2. Specialist Products
One thing to make a note of when listing out your requirements is if your workplace requires any specialist products. For example, if you work in the food industry, you will need to ensure containers you buy to store foodstuffs meet food industry standards. Equally, if you work in the medical field or a laboratory, you will need to ensure you have the correct equipment, which could be anything from powerful microscopes to laboratory labels. Any specialist equipment should be sourced from suppliers who are experts in producing those particular products.
3. Look At Suppliers
Not all suppliers are equal and it pays to shop around. Compare a few and see which offer the best value for money. Consider things like delivery times, minimum order quantities and ease of reordering. It is also worth checking if they offer loyalty programs or discounts for larger orders.
If you have time, it can be worth looking at international suppliers as well. They might be able to offer a better price for certain items.
One thing you can be sure of with stationery suppliers is that there is plenty of competition. This means there is often a deal to be done. To get the best possible deals with your chosen supplier, it is always worth negotiating. This could involve asking for bulk discounts or a longer payment window.
5. Consider Quality
It is also important to think about quality when procuring office stationery. While it might be tempting to go for the cheapest option, this might not be the most cost effective in the long run. Cheaper items often don’t last as long and need to be replaced more frequently. This can end up costing you more money.
It is important to strike a balance between quality and price when procuring office stationery.
6. Compare Prices
Once you have considered all of the above, it is time to start comparing prices. This is where the decision-making usually rests when it comes to procurement.
Remember to think of the overall picture and not just the single item cost when delving into prices. When comparing prices, it is important to consider the total cost. This includes things like delivery charges and minimum order quantities. Once you have found a few good options, it is always worth checking for any discounts or promotions that could apply.
You should also check the returns policy before making a purchase. This will ensure you are able to return items if they are not suitable.
7. Think Outside The Box
If you cannot come up with the right product or a manageable price through the suppliers you have looked at already, think creatively for alternative options. Sometimes, stationery items can be sourced from other places. For example, recycled paper products might be available from a local recycling centre.
Perhaps you will find the item you need that are being sold by suppliers that do not predominantly sell stationery or office equipment. For example, office chairs are commonly found at furniture stores. You might find sellers on local listings websites or auction websites trying to sell office stationery they no longer need. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and find a business giving stuff away that they know they won’t use. You might even be able to find a more sustainable or cost-effective option for your workplace this way.
8. Be Proactive
Another alternative way of sourcing stationery and office supplies is to reach out to others proactively. You could post on local forums to see if anyone is selling or giving away stationery items.
You could also try contacting businesses directly that might have the items you need. They might be willing to sell them to you at a reduced rate or even give them away for free if they are no longer needed. This is a great way of building relationships with other businesses in your area too.
If you are a member of any business forums or networking organizations, this is also a good place to ask for recommendations of stationery suppliers, or alternative ways of procuring the items you need. There may even be preferential rates available for those who find new suppliers in this way.