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Are you overspending on office supplies?



When it comes to office supplies, it can be difficult to distinguish between what is a “want” and what is a “need”. It becomes even more confusing when employees aren’t on the same page and preferences differ. The question left is, how do you support varying office supply needs while ensuring your budget isn’t converted into untouched sticky notes?  

Do you know how much you’re spending? 

Based on research performed by United Stationers, one of the largest distributors of wholesale office supplies in the B2B space, companies allocate between $186 and $544 annually per employee for office supplies, with expenses varying based on the company’s scale.  

Regardless of your company’s size, trimming unnecessary costs will enhance operational efficiency and boost your profits in the long run. This article looks at the different strategies you can put in place to make sure you’re not spending more than necessary for your employees to do their best work.  

Order office supplies thoughtfully. 

It’s tempting to buy in bulk if that’s when discounts appear. However, this can quickly eat away at your bottom line if the supplies aren’t being utilized or if they are being taken advantage of. Purchasing office supplies thoughtfully means you’re investing time into finding out which supplies are crucial and appreciated by each employee. It also means you’re investing time into figuring out what kind of shipping options it takes to deliver said supplies.  

Employee surveys are one way to determine internal office supply needs. By collecting data on employees’ office supply needs, you’re facilitating an environment with open communication while learning more about how your employees complete their in-office work.  

Setting a consistent purchasing schedule is another way to make sure you’re thoughtfully ordering supplies. This keeps both you and your employees accountable for ensuring your office supply reserve isn’t over-consumed and sustainable long-term.  

Be aware of alternative vendors.  

Chances are, you didn’t randomly select your vendor, and you use them for good reason. However, saving money with your vendors that deliver office supplies doesn’t necessarily mean severing ties with them. Instead, a closer examination of how you allocate your funds to such vendors will help to establish a financially symbiotic relationship.  

For example, businesses often overlook the shipping and mailing rates associated with their ordered office supplies. While one can’t control the vendor that delivers their products, they can control which vendor they choose. Choosing office supplies based on their tacked-on shipping prices reduces the total in the long run. While that might feel obvious, finding economical shipping solutions that don’t trade cost for convenience is a tedious, but must-do action. Comparing and consolidating all the options is time-consuming but critical given the changes that rapidly occur in carrier pricing structures. However, if thoroughly compared, the best-priced solution becomes more apparent and easier to implement.  

Buy generic.  

In most cases, the differences between the name brand and the generic brand are slim. It’s smart to bulk up on items that are the generic brand, especially for supplies that can be expensive like ink cartridges for example. Generic ink cartridges designed for desktop inkjet and laser printers frequently come at a price that’s only half of what you’d pay for name-brand alternatives, yet they often exhibit negligible discrepancies, if any, in print quality. 

In conclusion… 

Office supplies are not as straightforward as one thinks and implementing a regular schedule for auditing stock, pricing structures, and general employee needs is integral to ensuring you’re not overspending on a category that easily be overlooked.