Top Tips for Selecting an Office Supply Vendor – PART1

Top Tips for Selecting an Office Supply Vendor – Part 1

Every day office supplies are the basic tools that most of us rely on to get our jobs done day to day.

Employees, from the order takers and admin assistants to the executives, all know that office supplies are an essential office commodity that support efficient and effective operations.

Pens, paper (printer, copy, photo, stickies, calendars, notebooks, daytimers, markers aka hi-liters etc.), stationery (letterhead, envelopes, envelopes and more envelopes), staplers and staples, paper punches, paper clips, scissors, paper cutters, printer toner, janitorial and cleaning products and breakroom supplies…

As much as we take them for granted, office supplies and furniture comprise a surprisingly large part of every firm’s expenses, regardless of the company size. The smaller the firm, the higher the cost and United Stationers reports that offices with one to four employees spend up to $1,844 per employee on office supplies, computer consumables, tech equipment, furniture and janitorial and breakroom products. Mid-size firms spend about $1,069 per employee and offices with more than 200 employees tend to spend the least at $639 per employee.

Select the right office supply vendor and your firm will:

  • Save money on all office and related supplies
  • Always have the office supplies that employees need to do their jobs
  • Have the products that fit your needs

Before you commit to an office supply vendor, you need to look at and weigh each of these factors:


First and foremost, a good office supply vendor carries at least 50,000 different items, offering branded and generic products, which can save your firm 10 to 70 per cent over name brands. Ideally, the vendor offers everything from office supplies to electronic accessories, furniture and fixtures and breakroom and janitorial products, so that your firm can place larger orders with fewer vendors.


Most office supply vendors carry the same or similar products, which makes it incredibly easy to compare prices on the items you use the most with vendors’ websites and catalogues.

Once you’ve identified the most cost-effective vendor find out about:

Pricing Strategies/Deceptive Pricing Strategies

Be sure that the price you see is the price you’ll pay.

  1. Discounts are meaningless if they’re on high or non-competitive prices.
  2. The lowest price isn’t the lowest after unexpected gas, handling or shipping fees.

Price matching:

  1. Does this vendor price match?
  2. Is this vendor’s price-matching criteria fair and easy to follow?

Minimum-Order Requirements

  1. Is there a minimum order? If so – what is it and can your firm easily and regularly meet that minimum?
  2. What are the penalties if the minimum is not met? How does that affect gas, handling and shipping fees?




  1. Be sure that your vendor lets you and your employees place orders online, via email, telephone and fax.
  2. Confirm that the order method doesn’t affect delivery times, fees or product availability.
  3. In print or online, the product catalogue must be easy to search and navigate and list every item that is stocked and available to order.
  4. The search function should let you browse through categories or search for specific items. For example, you can look at every available sticky note or search by brand, size and colour.




  1. If you are in or near a major metropolitan area, your vendor should reliably and consistently deliver in-stock items within 48 hours.
  2. If rush and next-day delivery are an option, what are the associated costs?

After carefully assessing these factors, there are several additional issues that must be considered before you negotiate the terms that meet your needs and sign the contract.

Look for more information on:

  • payment terms (invoicing and payment methods)
  • returns/exchange policy, damaged items
  • service and support (account management, office supplies audit, complimentary consultations)
  • community and corporate responsibility

You’ll find additional insights in part two of our blog post on selecting your office supply vendor.


How to Select an Office Supply Vendor

After reading this free 12-page guide, you'll know the right questions to ask when it comes to pricing, order and delivery process, product support, invoicing & payment terms, and more.


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