Buying Office Supplies Online: How to Get Started

Whether you’re running a new business or have been operating for some time, some tasks can consume much of your time. One example is buying office supplies – where you have to compare prices, choose a supplier, and track the delivery. Even if you have a dedicated office manager to do the work, there’s plenty of other more critical responsibilities to focus on. That’s why a majority of businesses today buy from online suppliers for all their office supply needs. It’s not only convenient but also more efficient and affordable. Moreover, online suppliers publish customer reviews to guide new customers in choosing specific products that fit their needs.

How do you save time and money buying office supplies online?

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Despite the many benefits of buying office supplies online, there are several best practices to keep in mind to ensure that you get the maximum discount and convenience.

  • Look for one supplier for all your needs. According to, you can look for sellers from an online marketplace that offers a one-stop-shop for everything you need to run your business.
  • Inventory tracking. Scheduling your purchases to ensure that you have the right amount of supplies whenever required is critical to avoiding any disruption to business operations. While placing orders may be as easy as a click of a button, proper inventory tracking is still vital to monitoring spending.
  • Set a schedule for frequent orders. For supplies you need to replenish often, you can request the seller to automate recurring order delivery. It will save you more time in placing orders manually.
  • Buy in bulk for more discount. When you buy in bulk, the supplier may offer additional discounts. You can take advantage of exclusive deals and more savings.
  • Analyze and monitor spending. To avoid unnecessary expenditure, you need detailed analysis and records of what you buy. If there are supplies you don’t need, you can revise orders and remove these items.

Of course, it’s possible to encounter some problems with buying office supplies online. These practices are equally important as finding the right online store. The first thing you need to compare is the price and product quality. There are reviews and feedback posted online that can give you an idea if the seller is reliable.

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Since office supplies are critical to productivity, you may also want to verify seller lead times. Do they process rush orders? Are there different shipping options to choose from that will help expedite order delivery? All these are important considerations if you want to maximize time and money saved.

The next consideration in looking for a supplier is the available payment terms. Business clients often have the option to choose flexible arrangements, especially for recurring and bulk orders. It’s also ideal if the supplier accepts company or corporate credit cards as a mode of payment for easier tracking and bookkeeping.
Lastly, consider whether agreeing to a long-term contract will benefit your business. Although purchase flexibility is ideal at times, sometimes it works much better for some companies to establish a long-term relationship with the supplier.

More things to consider before or during a purchase

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Buying office supplies online is a time- and cost-saver. Most online suppliers do not maintain inventories so they pass on their savings to their consumers, especially those who order in bulk. Aside from the tips listed above, here are more things to consider when purchasing office supplies online.

One drawback of buying online is that you cannot inspect the products personally. You have to rely on what information they provide on their website. Aside from checking consumer reviews, it would be advantageous if you can find an online office supply vendor with a physical store near you so that you can check the quality of the products they carry. A trustworthy supplier will be willing to send you product samples before you place your purchase order. Just make sure that the quality of the products they deliver will be the same as the samples they sent.

Even if you’re buying online, do not settle for the first supplier you find. Be sure to shop around, compare prices, and check their terms and conditions.

Make sure that the store is legitimate. You can look it up at the government website called Companies House.
Before you start purchasing your office supplies, one of the most important things you should do is to determine what items you need. You will need general office supplies from pens and pencils to paper, staplers, paper clips, notebooks, rubber bands, and tapes. You need tech equipment like laptops, PCs, routers, printers, scanners, tablets, shredders, and more. Likewise, you should have office furniture, storage equipment, shipping and mail supplies, and collaboration tools for meetings and presentations.

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Every office needs janitorial and cleaning supplies, pantry/kitchen supplies, and safety equipment such as first aid kits, flashlights, fire extinguishers, and smoke detectors.

Do not be quickly taken by the vendor’s sales and closeouts. While the discounts may tempt you, you should first analyze why they are holding a sale on specific products. They may be nearing their expiry dates; the products are damaged or no longer complete.

The online store’s return policy is another thing to consider. You do not want to end up with something that you cannot use. The store should provide you with product guarantees. You should set an agreement to return products that are lower in quality that what you ordered.

Always factor is delivery cost when you place an order for office supplies because it is an additional expense. Many employees do not think of ways to save on office supplies because they believe the amount is unlimited. Make sure that you have enough supplies for one month, with some buffer stock, and encourage your employees to minimize waste.

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By ordering higher quantities monthly, you save on delivery charges and can avail of a volume discount.
Be wary of unbelievable offers and free items, which could only be a sales gimmick to get your account. Always think that there is going to be a trade-off. You may be charged higher delivery fees, or the store may want you to order some other products to avail of the free items and other offers.

There are pros and cons to buying office supplies online. Be sure you know what you need and find a vendor that is capable of working with you and meeting your needs.

About Suzan Vega