It’s 2017. Gone are the days when shopping online was uncharted territory. Today, anyone with internet access and a credit card can basically live off of what can be delivered to their door. While I can’t recommend hunkering down in your apartment only to crack the door open for your postal carrier, it would be silly of us to ignore the benefits of buying online. There’s cheaper prices, convenience, more options and helpful product reviews, just to name a few.
I think anyone who’s ever stood in a long line just to buy an ink cartridge would agree when I say that online shopping is the obvious way to go for office products. Whether you’re shopping for a height adjustable desk or a Swingline stapler, keep these things in mind before you “add to cart” to get the most bang for your buck.
1. Cheaper isn’t always better.
Online retailers like Amazon are chock full of office products for low prices. Most of the time, those prices are low because they don’t have to maintain a physical store and are open 24/7. Other times, lower than average prices means a lower than average product. Be sure to check the products reviews or do a quick google search for that brand to make sure it’s reputable.
Photo from Amazon Funny Reviews
2. Read the fine print.
The biggest complaint I hear from people who hesitate to shop online is - “What if it doesn’t work? I don’t want to have to return it.” Luckily, most online stores have good warranties and an easy return process should you ever need to send something back. Yes, that can be a pain, but once you get a taste of shopping online at midnight in your pajamas, there’s no turning back. Just be sure to read the return policy before you buy and reach out to customer service right away if you notice anything wrong with the product.
The second biggest complaint I hear is - “How will I know what I’m getting? I like to see products before I buy.” This, my friend, is what product specifications are for. On every product page you should be able to find dimensions, colors, images from multiple angles and more. When in doubt, you can also reach out to customer service and ask questions.
3. Check for promo codes and first timer deals.
Online shopping pro tip: Download Honey. It’s A FREE Google Chrome extension that automatically searches and tests every coupon code available to find you the best deal.
You can also join email lists for exclusive discounts and first timer deals. If you’re afraid of a million emails in your inbox, download Unroll.me to keep your email subscriptions in check. It’s an app that cleans up your inbox and lets you easily unsubscribe from email lists via the app.
1. You’ll find things you never knew you needed.
You know when you go to the store for printer paper and end up coming home with a new lamp and 5 new Sharpie colors? Just me?
Shopping online is the same. It’s really easy to get distracted and overspend. If you have impulsive buying habits like me, use it to your advantage. Often times, websites will offer special discounts when you bundle multiple items or, even better, offer free shipping when you reach a certain dollar amount.
2. Supporting startups and local sellers is easy.
Photo from Etsy store NewtonAndTheApple
Think you can only buy from big box stores online? Think again. There are thousands of startups, small e-commerce stores and local businesses that offer their products online. It’s as easy as finding their websites via social media. Most stores offer a safe and easy checkout too.
Looking to find new small businesses to support? Check out Kickstarter or Etsy for new ideas and interesting products. Even Amazon has joined in on the shop small trend with Amazon Launchpad where you can browse through the products of some of the coolest new startups.
1. Subscribe and Save
Did you know that many online retailers offer subscriptions for pretty much everything your office needs? If you’re using things like Post-It notes, paper, printer ink, batteries or shipping supplies regularly, you could save yourself some money by switching to a subscription. Amazon pioneered this idea with “Subscribe and Save” but many other sites are catching on.
2. Buy in bulk
Whether its paper clips or toilet paper, buying in bulk is always a good idea if you use a lot of something. There’s almost no limit to what you can get in large quantities. Don’t limit yourself to small items though. If you’re looking to outfit your office with new desks, computers or other office products, buying in one large order rather than multiple small orders could save you thousands.
Now you’ve got the tools to be a super savvy online shopper. Go forth and build the office of your dreams!