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What to Look for in Your Office Supply Vendor (8 Questions to Ask)

What to Look for in Your Office Supply Vendor (8 Questions to Ask)

Are you a business owner who wants to reduce your office supply costs or consolidate vendors? Or are you just looking for ways to save time procuring supplies, so you don’t have to waste time looking for everything you need at a local wholesale club?    

Finding the right vendor to help reduce your office supply costs isn't a difficult task, but it can be overwhelming if you're unsure of the questions you need to ask or where to begin in your search. 

Here at Egyptian Workspace Partners, we know how confusing (and time-consuming) it can be to choose a new office supply vendor, which is why we're here to guide you and help you understand what you should be looking for in a supplier. 

In this article, we'll take a look at the eight essential questions you need to ask before choosing a new office supply vendor, so you can find a partner who can meet all your needs and help you run your business successfully.  

How to Choose an Office Supply Vendor: 8 Questions to Ask

1. Do They have All the Products You Need to Run Your Business?

When you're evaluating potential vendors to single source all your business product needs, it's absolutely vital that your vendor has everything you need to operate your business successfully. In fact, having one supplier for as many products as possible should be your goal. 

You'll want to make sure your chosen supplier offers a wide range of products and product categories, including but certainly not limited to: 

  • Office supplies
  • Copy paper
  • Ink and toner
  • Breakroom supplies
  • Facility and janitorial products
  • Interior design and furniture
  • Technology products and IT services
  • Managed print services
  • Safety and PPE products 

You'll also need to make sure your chosen supplier has all the name brand products you've come to love and trust, as well as proprietary and proprietary products to help you reduce costs without sacrificing quality. 

2. What Sets Them Apart from Other Suppliers? 

Some suppliers specialize in one or two product categories, but these vendors typically lack depth across multiple categories, or offer anything beyond supplies.  

As you look for an office supply vendor, you may want to consider a supplier that offers additional services and benefits like: 

  • Ability to deliver to all your locations
  • White glove delivery options
  • Next day delivery options
  • Dedicated account manager
  • Dedicated customer service team
  • Easy-to-use website user experience 
  • Customizable website 
  • A-grade contract furniture line
  • In-house designers for furniture projects
  • Technology services
  • Managed print services
  • Toner recycling
  • Coffee services

3. What is Their Pricing Like?

Ultimately, the goal of using one source for all your business product needs is to help you reduce costs and save time on the ordering process. 

In your search for a single source provider (and the best price), you should ask yourself the following questions about any potential supplier: 

  • Do they offer a list of core products or a set of contract items? 
  • How long are the prices they quoted good for? 
  • How often do they increase prices? 
  • Do they offer cost-saving solutions like private label brands, proprietary facility products and compatible products? 

3. Do They Offer a User-Friendly Online Ordering Experience?

In this day and age, online ordering is the preferred method of buying practically anything, and business products are no exception. For any business, an online ordering experience with a user-friendly interface and functionality are an absolute necessity. 

If your business has complex ordering hierarchies, your office supply vendor's website should be able to accommodate that. Additionally, it should give you the ability to: 

  • Approve, adjust or reject orders in an approval chain
  • Change users and ship to multiple addresses
  • Denote custom and contract items
  • Create custom favorites list 

5. How Easy is Their Onboarding Process?

Onboarding may be stressful and overwhelming, but it's extremely valuable when you're switching office supply vendors. Your chosen supplier should offer an efficient onboarding process that makes it easy to transition from your previous vendor. 

Plus, your new supplier should be able to provide you with a support system that includes a dedicated account manager and a knowledgeable, helpful customer support team that can support you, every step of the way. 

6. How Does Delivery Work?

Whether you're in need of loading dock, front door or desktop delivery, your office supply vendor should make it easy to accommodate your delivery requirements, as well as the unique needs of your business. 

If you have multiple locations across the country that you order for, you'll want to make sure they can provide next-day delivery to not only one location, but all your locations nationwide. 

You'll also want to make sure they offer next-day delivery on absolutely everything  you need to run your business efficiently, including office supplies, facility products, breakroom supplies and more. 

7. How is Their Customer Service Experience? 

From payment discrepancies to delivery delays, mistakes are bound to happen from time to time. That being said, mistakes shouldn't happen all the time, but when they do occur, the way your supplier handles issues will set them apart from the rest. 

A great supply partner is defined by how they treat their customers when something goes wrong. After all, your time is valuable, and no one wants to waste time on the phone tracking lost or missing packages. 

When searching for an office supply vendor, you should aim to find a knowledgeable customer support team with multiple levels of management and years of industry experience. 

8. Are They a Reputable Vendor? 

The customer is always right, right? The best way to learn about a potential supplier is by seeing what others have to say. You can find online reviews via their Google My Business listing or even reach out to local customers they've worked with to learn more about them.

On top of that, you may want to look up how they're performing financially or how long they've been in the industry. The longer they've been in business, the more likely you'll be able to find insight into how they'll perform as your office supply vendor. 

How to Choose an Office Supply Vendor: The Final Decision

Once you've asked all eight questions, done your research and narrowed down your list of options, you'll be ready to choose an office supply vendor that can help you reduce costs and save time ordering. 

But, it's important to remember that choosing an office supply vendor is about more than finding a supplier with the cheapest pens or paper towels. It's about finding a vendor partner you can trust and have a long-lasting partnership with, now and for years to come. 

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