By Nancy Mann Jackson
The single biggest reason office managers don't buy in bulk? Lack of storage space. In a Staples Business Advantage survey on the topic, more than half of respondents cited this issue as the main obstacle to bulk shopping — far more than any other cause.
A lack of space doesn't have to prevent you from saving money on office supplies. With a little flexibility and creativity, many office managers can find ways to manage storage for their bulk purchases in order to maximize savings. Here are three approaches to consider.
1. Space Out Delivery Times
Rather than making your orders at once, leave gaps in the delivery times for different types of items. For instance, you may have paper goods delivered one week and packaging supplies delivered a couple of weeks later. When you sit down to make an order, you might purchase the must-have items right away, and then make a list of items that can wait for the middle of the month. That way, you can keep up a steady pace of deliveries without getting buried with new supplies all at once.
As some of the supplies from the earlier deliveries are used up, you'll be able to make space in your storage room for the supplies that arrive next.
2. Create Extra Storage Spaces
Take a look around: Are there unused areas in your location that could be turned into storage? Consider empty offices and garage areas, or install a storage cabinet in the bathroom. Many workspaces have an odd corner or nook that is too small for most uses, and typically is just empty space — a portable storage closet could be the perfect way to put those spots to better use. A wide variety of shelving and freestanding cupboards are available to buy and easy to set up.
To help fit everything in, re-arrange supplies to fit more efficiently in the space. You might be able to gain more room by unboxing items and stacking them up higher, or breaking them up into smaller groups and spreading them out on shelving.
3. Ask Departments to Manage Their Own Inventory
Think about which employees or departments are using different types of supplies, and ask them if they could store their own materials in their own locations. For instance, there's no reason for marketing department staff members to trek downstairs to a supply room every time they need paper or pens; they could keep a stash in their own work area and relieve the load on your supply room. Spreading the materials out can make them much easier to store.
If you seek out ways to enhance your storage, you'll be able to buy in bulk and reap reduced prices, time savings and other benefits. Consider your business's space constraints and see which may work best for you.