Many people and businesses have turned to online suppliers to stock their cupboards. Forbes reported that 24% of retail purchases will occur online by 2026, a growth of about 4%.
The convenience of internet shopping has accelerated this shift. Online suppliers also offer a more comprehensive selection of products at lower prices – that’s a lot to like right there.
Purchasing your supplies online as a business makes sense because it cuts costs and saves time. Instead of wasting fuel running around town or, even worse, ringing around suppliers all over the country, you can get everything you need in a few clicks. But how will you find the right online retailers?
Consider the following factors in your supplier evaluation.
1. Your office supply needs
Every office has specific requirements depending on the tasks and the number of people it serves. Therefore, creating a list of products, such as paper, ink cartridges, stationery, office furniture, and packaging supplies, is essential.
While at it, consider these products’ measurements and technical specifications based on your business operations. Then there is a whole other range of supplies you may need, like safety equipment or cleaning products, essential things to keep your business running.
This preliminary plan will allow you to narrow your search to the best supplier for office products. Having a plan will also save you heaps of time shopping online, especially when you have a million other things to do as well.
2. Payment options
There are many payment options in the online market today. However, some suppliers don’t support all of them, making it challenging for buyers to pay for the products.
Your other primary consideration should be the modes of payment the supplier offers. Look for one that allows you to use several payment alternatives, such as credit cards, direct bank transfers, and mobile money. Some online sites will also allow you to create an account, so you can shop to your heart’s content and then clear your bill once a month. Great for your cash flow.
Apart from convenience, the security of these processes is also vital. Whichever gateway the supplier provides, the safety of your data should be guaranteed.
3. Delivery time
How long does it take the retailer to deliver your items? This factor is important, especially if the goods you order are essential for daily operations. Will they chase the courier company and sort out the delays that can disrupt your office?
Many suppliers give you the dates you should expect these products and do their utmost to get your goods to you. Others may offer same-day delivery. Compare information across various retailers to see which one best fits your needs.
You can also use previous client experiences to gauge every candidate. Customer feedback gives you an idea of what to expect from the supplier to help you decide whether it’s worth the wait.
4. Good pricing
The good thing is that most online stores have good pricing, coupon codes, and loyalty programs. For instance, at SupplyMe you can create a Business Account and get volume rates, pallet rates and contract rates and a payment option that lets you settle up on the 20th of the month.
If there is no good promotion, you can still compare prices. Items from different online suppliers rarely cost the same amount. Although the price difference may not be significant in some cases, it can still help you save money for another purpose.
5. Overall reputation
As mentioned earlier, customer feedback is crucial when evaluating an online supplier for office products. Online reviews on social media and the business’ website show how other clients view the brand.
Of course, not all suppliers will have a perfect image online, which could be due to various reasons, including customers’ poor experience or dishonest reviews from some clients. Nevertheless, you can still use the information you gather here to gauge a company’s reputation.
After your assessment, choose the online supplier with the best reputation. Base your analysis on the quality and range of office products, service reliability, and customer support.
The company’s longevity in the market is another factor you should consider when assessing its reputation. A brand in business for many years will likely meet your needs simply because the supplier has more experience.
6. Product return policy
Sometimes you may not receive what you ordered. It’s a common problem in the online market; even the best brands have made the same mistake. But what sets them apart from the rest is the return policy.
Read every supplier’s return policy before deciding on which to choose. The retailer should allow you to return the product for another similar item or get a refund.
Again, customer feedback can help you out here. It’s best to go through the reviews posted by previous clients and see if there are any complaints regarding the return policy.
The online marketplace is quite convenient and offers many options to consumers, including businesses. But the massive number of suppliers can make it challenging to find exemplary service, especially given their aggressive marketing strategies.
For the best experience, choose an online office products supplier with reliable payment options, excellent delivery time, and product range. Their overall reputation based on their previous customers should also be top-notch.