If you’re running a business or about to begin running one, you probably already know that you need to manage the supplies that your business needs. Poor management of supplies can result in a less than ideal bottom line as an unnecessary amount of money is spent on buying a new product. Selecting supplies of low quality can, in turn, result in your final product or service being of lower quality. Moreover, purchasing supplies that are overpriced can mean the business is not as profitable as it would otherwise have been.
Given the importance of finding and managing supplies, it can be a bit scary to start making supply choices. The following will explore a few things that you can do to help ensure that you’re selecting the ideal supplies for your business.
Keep Track Of What You Use
It might seem meticulous at first, but this step is absolutely vital if you want to make sure that you’re not making easy-to-repair supply mistakes. Keep track of what you use and when you use it. At the minimum, this means keeping a record of when new supplies were bought, how much of a given supply was purchased and what this cost.
After a few months, you should have an overview of roughly how fast you go through the things you need. If you want more accurate information, you can go so far as to have a tracking sheet on the door of the supply closet where people can mark down what they took and when. You cannot make good supply decisions if you’re not aware of how much you need and how often.
This information will come in handy when you’re considering bulk purchases and expected delivery times from various providers. Moreover, this can help you plan your purchases in advance, which can dramatically reduce your shipping costs; many online stores will offer free shipping once a certain dollar amount is spent. If you find yourself needing to order something, you can look through your records and accurately estimate what you’re going to be needing to order soon so that you can place an order for multiple items and skip the shipping cost.
Before you make a purchase, you want to shop around and compare the prices available. You might find that ordering boxes of pens online is cheaper than visiting your local office supply depot. Take the time to compare prices at a few different locations. You can save 10% to 20% and sometimes even more than that—stores have been known to mark things up by 50% or more.
Comparing prices is incredibly easy and can save you lots of money, but a surprising amount of people don’t do it. A simple online search and a few phone calls can make all the difference.
For Services: Read Reviews
When it comes to paying for services that your business needs, reviews are vital. If you’re looking for someone to handle your air ducts or provide a dependable heating oil service, for instance, you’re going to want to research the local offerings by reading online reviews. Learn to read reviews critically; if someone gives a raving review that compares the service to Christmas morning or if they offer a scathing review claiming they’d rather die than use the service again, there’s a chance these reviewers are simply extremely cheerful or bitter people.
Many review platforms allow you to click on a person’s name and see what else they’ve reviewed. If someone has an endlessly optimistic disposition or a truly miserable world outlook, you should be able to sense this by reading several of their reviews. You’re also looking for people who are using the service in the same way you will be. Pay attention to indications that reviewers are running businesses with a similar needs profile to your own. If you find a reviewer like this, you might want to weigh their review more heavily than one provided by someone with a different set of needs.
Ask For Deals
If you’re buying supplies for a business, chances are you’re looking to buy more than a household’s amount of something. There’s no harm in asking a question like: and what would the price be if I ordered ten boxes every month? You’d be surprised what sort of deals people suggest when you ask. The worst thing that can happen is you get told that the price is the same. The best thing that can happen is you save a lot of money.
Mitigate Dynamic Pricing
Dynamic pricing is all the rage for online stores right now, but it can be a real headache for individual shoppers like you. You’re probably familiar with the experience of buying flights online; every time you check back, the price for the flight you were looking at has changed—because there’s a limited number of seats, airlines use the number of seats remaining, and the number of people searching for a particular flight to determine the highest price they can get away with.
Many online stores have begun to utilize data collected from your previous online activity to determine the highest price you might pay for a product or service. This means you could visit a website and be offered a much higher price than someone else. To avoid this, you want to regularly clean out the cookies of whatever device you’re using to search and conduct your searches in a private browser. A VPN service can also help with this.
When it comes to digital services for your business, you need to ask hard-hitting questions about data collection and privacy. If you are collecting information from staff or customers (which, if you’re accepting payment by debit or credit card, you are), it’s your responsibility to keep that information secure. Small businesses are the primary targets of hackers and other cyber criminals; nearly seven billion dollars was lost last year to cybercrime.
The above information should help you find the right supplies for your business at the right cost. While a few of the steps require additional time and effort, if you find solid and trustworthy providers early on in your business’s life, you can save a ton of time and money later on down the road.