Whether you are working at a large company or a small company, choosing an office supply vendor can be known as a “necessary evil.” After all, an office, and the employees working in that office, need supplies to do their jobs. That includes a whole spectrum of items – from chairs and desks to pens and markers. And although the process may seem tedious and potentially time consuming, it doesn’t have to be. And it doesn’t need to be challenging or overwhelming if you follow the below guidelines …
While researching potential vendors, you should compare price points and choose the most affordable option that will provide you with the quality of product you need. However, please note that this factor shouldn’t be the “end all – be all” when making your final decision. Also keep in mind that you will want to work with a vendor that has your best interest in mind. Investigate if the vendor offers any discounts for items you will regularly buy!
Find out about normal lead times
While investigating your options, make sure that the vendor you choose provides you with proper “lead time” and shipping options that work in your favor. In other words, the vendor can promise (and deliver) on sending you your ordered product(s) by the time you need it and allows you flexibility to order product and have it delivered immediately, if necessary. Will the vendor offer fast, free, or low-cost delivery, for example?
Setup pay terms that work for you
What are the vendor’s pay terms? In other words, what are your payment options? Can you pay with a credit card? Paypal? Something else? Make sure this aligns with what you can do. In addition, does the vendor offer reasonable return and warranty policies?
Check on available shipping locations
How many different locations can the vendor ship to? You will want to make sure any vendor you choose has flexibility to ship to multiple locations, if necessary.
Confirm quality of customer service
This is an extremely important factor while looking for an office supply vendor. Customer service, after all, can make or break a relationship. Think about customer service experiences you’ve had in the past, both good and bad. Obviously, you will want to make sure the vendor you choose can deliver you a positive customer experience from the beginning. Here are some things to consider: What is the structure of the customer service team processes; how are credits handled, how often are they on call to answer questions, etc.
Estimate the variety of product
Remember that choosing a vendor which offers the most variety of products will save the company money. How? Through saving an employee’s (or your) time! When purchasing from one company, all you need to do is place the order, and then you are done. If there are multiple companies involved, then you will have to spend the same amount of time multiplied by how many different stores you are buying from … which makes no sense! Of course, all stores do not carry everything, but choosing a company with the most amount of variety will benefit the company in the long term.
Rate vendor’s expertise level
How can you ever know everything there is to know about all the items that you may have to buy? You need to be able to rely on your vendor’s expertise. You can try to come up with a question about the product that requires insight, and ask that when you are first evaluating your new supplier. Do they have procedures in place to help, even if it may take a bit of time, or do they never even get back to you with an answer?
There you have it! Choosing an office supply vendor made easy. Before following the guidelines, you may want to determine your exact budget as well as name each product, the quantity of each product you would need to order AND frequency of ordering. That will get you started on the path to choose an office supply vendor. Happy hunting!
Is there an office issue YOU know how to resolve that other office workers might benefit from? Write for our blog and get published online. The best part? You get PAID. Learn more now and submit a topic!