How To Search For A Reliable Office Supply Store In Your Area

Like most businesses you probably would like to order your office supplies from a local office supply store. It is convenient and helps you save time. However before settling on a particular store, you may want to ask yourself some questions.

Is the supplier financially secure?

It's always worth making sure your office supply store has sufficiently strong cash flow to deliver what you want, when you need it. A credit check will help reassure you that they won't go out of business when you need them most.

Do your suppliers provide excellent service?

You need your office suppliers to deliver on time, or to be honest and give you plenty of warning if they can't. The best suppliers will want to talk with you regularly to find out what needs you have and how they can serve you better.

How good is the store’s reputation at building a strong relationship?

A strong relationship will benefit both sides. You want your office supply store to acknowledge how important your custom is to them, so they make every effort to provide the best service possible. And you're more likely to create this response by showing your supplier how important they are to your business.

Calling an office supplies store is another great test of fit with your business. If the number is toll free that means this and all future communications will be of no charge to you. Did they pick up right away, or was there a lengthy hold period or confusing menu's to figure out. This is important because these will be the types of hurdles you will have to deal with every time you need to communicate with them. Not the type of relationship you would seek out for a partner.

Does the store sell online as well as offline?

Does the store sell on-line as well, besides having a physical store located in your area? Here is why that’s important. Office supply stores that sell online have fewer employees and lower overhead costs since there are fewer salaries to pay. The next time you go into an office supply store count the number of employees you see and note what they are all doing. Every employee that is not actively doing something is adding another 5¢ to that box of paper clips or $20 to that all-in-one office machine you need. This can add up. On-line stores do not have this problem and can pass significant savings to you.

Does the store have a fair return policy?

A fair return policy would never require a customer to spend money to ship goods back unless the error in ordering was completely their (the customers) fault. Any damaged goods or re-shipments due to shortages should be re-shipped at no cost to you. So always look at would be supplier's policy pages or simply call them and ask a few questions.

Does the store offer specials?

Because price is a key component for businesses looking to stay under budget both on-line and off-line stores can offer valuable money saving coupons and specials. If you find an office supply store with low prices that also has an option to sign up for newsletters and special offers you have found the best chance to save money.

If you will be placing regular orders, check if the store will offer you fair credit terms. Once you have established trust with the store through a few months of regular trading, the store should provide you with ongoing credit.

Compare potential suppliers

When choosing a local office supply store, you would normally ask for a quotation to compare prices. Once you've got the quotation, compare the potential suppliers in terms of what matters most to you. For example, the quality of their product or service may be most important, while their location may not matter.

Price is important, but it shouldn't be the only reason you choose a supplier. Lower prices may reflect poorer quality goods and services which, in the long run, may not be the most cost effective option. Be confident that your supplier can make a sufficient margin at the price quoted for the business to be commercially viable.

Check that the supplier you employ is the one that will be doing the work. Some suppliers may outsource work to subcontractors, in which case you should also investigate the subcontractor to determine if you are happy with this arrangement.

Wherever possible it is always a good idea to meet a potential supplier face to face and see how their business operates. Understanding how your supplier works will give you a better sense of how it can benefit your business.

And remember that your business' reputation may be judged on the labour practices of your suppliers. It makes good business sense to consider the ethical dimensions of your supply chain.

Negotiate terms and conditions

Once you've settled on the suppliers you'd like to work with, you can move on to negotiating terms and conditions and drawing up a contract

All said and done, you need to do your due diligence. Check with other companies dealing with the office supply store, obtain references and call them to satisfy yourself that these are genuine. If everything checks out, you are onto a good office products supplier.