A guide to choosing an office supplies provider

Businesses run on office supplies. Memos, reports, agendas, presentations, letters. None of them can happen without paper, toner and all the stationery your people use. Yet it’s easy to take these essentials for granted.

Keeping quality high
Every business wants to save money. But there’s a difference between a great deal and a false economy. What look like bargain products might not be all they seem. It can pay to spend a little more up front to save yourself a headache and extra cost later. For instance, paper isn’t just paper. Quality matters. Use the right paper in your printers and you’ll cut down on jammed machines and costly downtime. Use the right kind of toner and your documents will make the right impression on partners and customers.

You might also be spending too much without knowing it. In some offices, people use high-grade, expensive paper for everyday jobs like printing memos and emails. Make sure you’re getting the quality right for every job – and not spending any more than you have to.

Running a tight ship
Office supplies shouldn’t be complicated. So keep everything as simple as possible. That way, your people can spend more time doing what they’re best at. Some businesses don’t have a set way of keeping an eye on supplies and working out what they need. It’s not clear what products are the ‘standard’, or who orders them. So either it happens at the last minute, or there’s too much in stock at any one time. If that sounds familiar, get everything straight with a process that has some control.

Paring everything back to a list of approved products saves time and cuts confusion. And sticking with those products means you’ll get better value, because you’re buying more of the same thing. Also, by keeping a close watch on how much you’re using at different times, you can anticipate peaks and troughs in demand. So no more stationery cupboards piled high with stock you won’t need for months. By getting your systems right you’ll save space as well as time.

Saving timeSaving time and money
Look for a supplier where ordering is easy. Do it online and you can find what you need quickly. No need to comb bulky catalogues. You can also save the things you order most as ‘favourites’ to help you go from basket to checkout in a few clicks. And be sure to unravel any uncertainty by making sure only budget-holders can order and only named people authorise orders before they go ahead.

How much time do your people spend ordering office supplies? It may not seem much, but it’s time they could be spending on something more productive – and profitable. That’s why you should set out to take the admin of office supplies off their desks. Simple ordering by phone, email or online and clear lines of responsibility make the whole process slick and efficient for everyone. Whether it’s the procurement team or the office manager.

Doing Finance a favour
Finally, do Finance a favour by working with a supplier who can combine everything into one invoice to make payment processes easier. Management reports are even available from leading office supplies companies to help bring the hidden cost of office supplies ordering out into the open. Once you can see who’s ordering what, you can make adjustments to save money across the business.

For more information of office supplies, visit Ricoh Supplies.

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Steve is a business development manager for Supplies at Ricoh UK & Ireland.

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