Insights and Sourcery: Savings Trends – Office Supplies

Originally published in the January 2011 issue

When it comes to savings on office supplies, it seems that the new rule is the sky is the limit! Over the last few months we have had the opportunity to help many customers reduce their cost of office supplies, with savings averaging north of 20%.

So why the trend, and why the savings?

Office supplies are typically seen as a tactical spend category – and rightly so!  The cost of ordering, paying for, and stocking inventory can often outweigh the cost of goods.  Still, substantial unit cost savings are available and should be taken advantage of.  Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking at office supply costs:

Competition is fierce – there are numerous players in the market and all are looking to undercut the competition.  Most of the national suppliers have the same or similar service offerings, and you can exploit this during a negotiation.

Consider regional players – If you only have one location, or have several but all are in the same geographic area, consider going with a regional supplier rather than a national.  Most regionals can compete on price and also provide additional value added services that will help keep internal costs down and budgets in line.

Don’t forget the toner!Toner and paper will normally make up 75% or more of total office supply costs.  Remanufactured toner products can provide for enormous savings (up to 50%!), but finding the right vendor can be a challenge, as many remanufactured ( reman) cartridges are not always the same quality as OEM.  Make sure your reman vendor can provide good references, has internal quality controls, and guarantees product quality in writing.

­Auto-sub for savings – Buyers of office supplies often stick with brand name products because the names are familiar, but most office supply vendors have their own brand of post-its, pens, and other products that can provide for a savings of 15% or more.  Auto-sub programs ensure that even when a brand name product is ordered, generic product is delivered and invoiced for.  Executives and category managers can choose which products make the most sense to auto-sub for their organization.

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