Are you looking to save money in your small business?

Then it’s time to look at how and where you buy your office supplies.

Compared to big ticket purchases, wages, or the marketing budget, office supplies can seem like small change, but in actual fact spending on office supplies can quickly add up, eating into your budget.

Follow these top 10 office supplies shopping tips to save money in your business.

1. Reduce Waste – Save yourself money on unnecessary office supplies by reducing the number of supplies that get wasted. From disappearing pens to staplers that get put in a cupboard and forgotten about, encourage your employees to look after their supplies and only use what they need. Keep supplies neat and easily accessible to cut down on lost items or over purchasing.

2. Reuse When You Can – Re-using supplies saves you money and is a greener option too. Try using the blank side of printed documents for internal memos or scrap paper. Keep a stash of cardboard boxes and packing materials that are in good condition and use them when necessary. Many supplies such as ring binders can be used time and again.

3. Only Buy What You Need – Before making an office supplies purchase, be sure that you really need the items you’re ordering. By taking a moment to ask if a purchase is a “must have” or a “would like to have”, you can save your business money spent on unnecessary supplies.

4. Go Generic – You can save yourself a tidy sum by opting for generic or own-brand office supplies instead of the bigger name office brands. In many cases the quality will be as good. In some cases it won’t, so start small when trying a new brand to be sure it works for you. Big retailers such as Walmart often carry their own brand office supplies at good prices.

5. Beware Of Loss Leaders – Many suppliers will offer great deals on smaller items such as stationery to entice you to buy, but don’t assume that one good deal means everything they offer is good for your wallet. See what kind of prices they charge outside of their special offers to find out if they really offer value for money.

6. Buy In Bulk – You can make some good savings by buying items in bulk, benefiting both from the lower cost per item and from good shipping rates. To save money this way, make sure the item is something you use a lot of to make it worth a bulk purchase.

7. Use Customer Loyalty Programs – Office suppliers often have customer loyalty programs that you can take advantage of, for example to earn points and save on future purchases, or qualify for lower shipping costs. Choose a supplier who offers good prices and a customer loyalty program for the best of both worlds.

8. Do Your Research – It’s always worth comparing prices between different suppliers to find out how you can make the most of your office supplies budget. As well as the cost per item, compare the shipping costs and look at bulk purchase or business purchase discounts and rewards programs. Ask around for some personal recommendations.

9. Track Your Spending – Keeping an eye on your office supplies spending allows you to see just how much is going out, and what you’re getting in return for it. As well as helping you analyze what you spend, keeping good records will help you keep an eye on how many supplies you use over time so you can anticipate and budget for your needs.

10. Designate a Buyer – Designating a buyer (with support from other staff as necessary) means you’ll have a go-to person who knows where to find the best deals and can keep an eye on spending and stock levels. As well as making it easier to order supplies, having a buyer will reduce the risk of over ordering or duplicate orders.

Office supplies are a ubiquitous part of any small business, but they don’t need to cost a small fortune.

By shopping smart and taking advantage of the best prices you can supply your small business with the items you need without over stretching your budget.

Photo credit: Image courtesy of adamr at

About the Author: Tristan Anwyn writes on a wide variety of topics, including social media, SEO, office supplies and business budgeting.