If you’re a small business, I strongly urge you to consider online shopping to save money on some of the products you use for your office. (To be honest, even if you don’t own a business, this conversation applies to you also!) In a few minutes, I’ll share some easy steps that I use to save money on office supplies. But, first let me highlight a comment I heard at the recent Illinois JumpStart Action Network for Financial Empowerment Summit held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago that is related to our discussion today.
Sunaena Chhatry, Senior Policy & Innovation Analyst with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said the following:
“People are not comparison shopping. This is a trend we’ve had for a long time. If you’re not shopping around, you’re accepting the first option. You’re not weighing your options.”
To put her statement into context, the Summit was focused on financial literacy and the consumer market. However, this principle of comparison shopping is also extremely important for small businesses and solopreneurs. I’m always astounded at the money, particularly in aggregate, that you can save by purchasing your office supplies online. So, for you small business owners (and consumers for that matter!), follow these simple steps and save yourself time and money!
Step #1: Identify the retail/vendor resources for office supplies
Make a list of the retail stores and/or vendors where your office supplies can be purchased. I would also suggest including stores that are not just office supply stores. A number of main stream big box retailers sell office related supplies.
Step #2: Create an inventory of office supplies
Type up an inventory list of the office supplies you use. Make a column for each retailer/vendor.
Note: Your inventory list should be in a digital format (Excel, for example) so once you make your retailer(s) choices, you can create charts, keep a running balance of expenses, etc. If you’re using financial software like QuickBooks, your chart of accounts can be a tool to view aggregate office supplies dollars spent as well.
Step #3: Obtain the pricing for each inventory item
Let your mouse do the walking, so to speak. Visit each website and document the pricing of the items on your list. You’ll notice that the pricing will differ slightly from retailer to retailer. Take particular notice of your bigger price items. Let me give you just two examples from my purchases this week:
√ Printer toner. I purchased a toner cartridge for my black and white printer. I found a vendor that saves me $25.00 per cartridge when I purchase it online. This can save me at least several hundred dollars a year in toner expense on this particular printer. Over the years, you can see that savings can add up to thousands!
√ Copy/printer paper. Although we live in a digital world, as a writer, I still use a lot of paper. And, I remember my corporate office days talking to the head of Purchasing regarding the cost of paper. It’s one of the biggest expenses for companies.
Being a small business myself, cost is always a consideration! I found a retailer where I purchase a box (10 reams of paper or 5,000 sheets) and the savings really add up. Don’t buy paper one ream at a time. It’s more expensive.
Step #4: Perform a periodic review of your inventory costs
In the corporate world, the Purchasing department reviews their supply costs at least annually. (Remember, they are provided a budget from the CFO’s office!) As a small business owner, you need to periodically review your supply inventory to make certain you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
If you’re a small business/solopreneur owner, you work hard to keep the revenue stream flowing smoothly. Don’t let the dollars get “stolen” away from your bottom line. Take the time to set up an inventory list of supplies and research your purchasing options online. You’ll be glad you did!
If you want to create your path to being rich, create an inventory list of your office supplies, perform your due diligence online and consider purchasing your items online for bigger savings.
Whether you’re a small business or solopreneur and have not created an inventory list of your office supplies, please do so. Research your options online and see how much money you can save!