From office furniture to technology or writing and organization supplies, businesses can maximize their office equipment investments by purchasing everything they need through online office supply websites. Let’s dive into the top five online office supply companies where businesses can go to equip their workers while accessing the best deals and additional services.
Disclaimer: This article is sponsored by Walmart Business.
Walmart Business: Best one-stop-shop solution for small, medium and large companies
Walmart Business is popular among small, medium and large companies due to its one-stop-shop style. Walmart Business offers a wide variety of office supplies at competitive prices as well as discounts for bulk sales. Plus, customers can access numerous benefits under the Walmart Business membership program, including free delivery and shipping, 2% back in rewards, limited-time offers and budgeting tools.
Walmart Business also provides all of its office supply customers with dedicated support through a Walmart expert. Plus, companies can browse, compare and make online orders for everything they need for their office and benefit from services that include installation, maintenance and setup.
- One-stop-shop solution.
- Great choice for small, medium and large companies.
- Dedicated support.
- Membership benefits.
- Bulk buying discounts.
- Highly specific products such as advanced 3D printers, high-end industrial devices and laser technologies might not be in stock.
Amazon Business: Best for large companies that do not need personalization
Amazon Business builds on the popularity of the Amazon shopping website to deliver business products with added benefits for those who register. On Amazon Business, customers can compare product details, buy in bulk, access discounts and get support throughout their entire purchasing journey.
While small and medium businesses do use Amazon Business, the platform is well-known for serving large companies, governments and public service providers. Amazon Business removes individual preferences or personalization from the equation to focus on bulk purchasing and easy ordering solutions for companies that prioritize efficiency and savings over customized products.
- Millions of products at good prices.
- Amazon Business Prime customers can access exclusive benefits such as free delivery, analytics tools, spend visualizers, extended pay terms and member-only offers.
- The size of Amazon’s website and operations may create complexities for businesses.
- Limited personalization and customization of products.
- Dedicated help and support may be challenged by the complexities of Amazon´s large operations.
Staples: Best for writing, storage and organization supplies
Staples is a well-established office supply giant that offers more than just a vast catalog of products; the retailer specializes in catering to the unique needs of small and medium businesses and provides personalized support and specialized solutions.
Founded in 1986, Staples has been in the office supply business longer than most modern online platforms. The company has known how to capitalize on its experience with traditional office supplies such as writing, storage and organization supplies and reimagined its online operations for today´s business.
- Reputable brand.
- Has been offering traditional office supplies since 1986.
- Staple operations are not as large as other office supply vendors, allowing the company to focus more on customer support.
- Bulk discounts may not be as attractive as those offered by other bigger providers.
- Product selection is extensive, but it is not as comprehensive as some online retailers.
Quill: Best for small companies looking for customized office supplies
While Quill may not boast the size and scope of its competitors, it holds its own among businesses seeking a personalized and tailored experience. The company specializes in providing office supplies such as ink, furniture, administration, paper and breakroom supplies.
Quill prioritizes customer support and will go the extra mile when it comes to personalization and customized office supplies. Quill´s personalized office supplies portfolio includes promotional products, stamps, business cards, custom envelopes and stationary, calendars and marketing materials and more.
- Excels in customized office supplies.
- Its platform offers a range of tools to help businesses optimize their supply chain, including automated reordering, customized reports and consumption tracking.
- Fully dedicated personalized service.
- Technology products are not its strength.
- The product catalog, while curated, does not offer the same breadth as some larger online retailers.
- Prices are slightly higher for individual items, particularly compared to discount retailers.
Office Depot: Best for home offices and small businesses
Office Depot, a major player in the office supply industry, caters to a diverse range of businesses but is particularly popular among home businesses, individual consumers and small businesses. Office Depot provides basic supplies like paper and pens, as well as technology solutions like laptops and printers and office furniture and equipment.
- Extensive selection.
- Competitive prices.
- Provides multiple shopping channels, including online ordering and in-store browsing (i.e., physically visiting a store).
- It may not have the same range of premium brands and specialized products as competitors.
- Business support may not be as dedicated as that of other companies.
- Website navigation and user experience could be improved for enhanced online shopping convenience.
Tips for choosing online stores for office supplies
Develop a strategy and a budget
Buying office supplies without a plan will only lead to added costs. Companies should develop a strategy and assign clear budgets to better manage office supplies. Their office supply strategy should include inventories, calendars, workers’ feedback and cost management tools. By identifying regular and occasional office supply needs, companies can stay one step ahead of demands, get better deals and access seasonal discounts with vendors and tax benefits.
Research product selection and pricing
Companies should investigate different websites and compare product catalogs, paying attention to brand availability and specific product features, before choosing their vendor. The leading office supply vendors have online tools to help businesses select products and compare prices and features; this includes all vendors listed in this article. Plus, considering bulk discounts and potential free shipping offers is important because these benefits and others can unlock additional savings and benefits.
Small, medium or large companies should not be afraid of negotiating when purchasing office supplies, especially if they plan to become regular customers or buy in bulk. Engaging with account managers directly and asking for discounts and special offers, as well as negotiating other terms, can lead to significant benefits.
Develop a good relationship with an office supply account manager
One of the biggest challenges when companies buy their office supplies online through large marketplaces is customer service, personalization and support. Companies can read online reviews to gain insight into the quality of personalized support offered by office supply vendors through dedicated account managers. A good relationship with an office supply account manager can lead to better deals and facilitate negotiations around issues like returns or fast shipping.
Check delivery options and timelines
While most leading office suppliers offer excellent delivery and shipping options, some might come with added costs. By accessing membership accounts, companies can get free and fast delivery options to make sure they never run out of supplies. All of the vendors in this article offer free and fast delivery.
Seek out value-added services
The best office suppliers offer value-added services like inventory management tools, automated reordering and custom printing. These services can help companies better manage their strategies, timeliness, budget and costs.
Eco-friendly office supplies, recycled products and energy-efficient solutions are not just a big trend in the office supply market; they can help a company cut costs, build brand value and trust and lower its carbon footprint. Companies should choose stores with transparent shipping practices and a commitment to reducing their environmental impact.
Read the fine print
From terms and conditions to return policies, warranty coverage and hidden costs, reading the fine print when buying office supplies is essential, especially because these resources are critical for business operations.
Frequently asked questions about buying office supplies online
Where can I buy cheap office supplies online in bulk?
Walmart Business is known for its competitive prices, diverse portfolio and bulk sales special offers. Other vendors to consider for cost-efficient office supplies include Amazon and Staples.
What are the most popular office supplies?
Traditional office supplies such as writing supplies, pens, pencils, highlighters, paper, ink and organization supplies like folders, file boxes or paper clips are still very popular in the industry; however, the sector has evolved and modernized, offering a wide range of tech such as smartphones, laptops, PCs, printers and interactive whiteboards.
The office supply market is diversifying to meet the demands of niche industries like healthcare, government and education, such as:
- Patient charts and forms.
- Disposable gloves, masks and gowns.
- Medical-grade pens and pencils.
- Anatomical models and reference charts.
- Security seals and tamper-evident labels.
- High-security shredders.
- Durable binders and folders.
- Specialized stamps and envelopes.
- Dry erase markers and boards.
- Classroom management supplies.
How much does a small business spend on office supplies a year?
The cost of office supplies per year for a small business will depend on various factors, including its industry and the number of employees.
On average, companies with 1 to 5 workers may spend approximately $50 to $100 per employee per month, while businesses with 40 employees may spend less — a maximum of $50 per employee per month — due to bulk order discounts. Companies with more than 200 employees might even have lower costs, Chron reported in March 2019.
What is a reasonable budget for a home office?
On average, building a basic home office will cost at least $200, and that is if someone already has the space and plans to use some of their own furniture and technology.
In contrast, equipping a home office with furniture, tech and office supplies may cost from $500 to $2,000, depending on what type of supplies and equipment a person is buying.
What is the largest office supply online store in the U.S.?
Amazon is known as the largest online store in the U.S., followed closely in the office supply market by Walmart and Staples.
Each office supply company featured in this article possesses unique advantages. Walmart Business offers a compelling combination of competitive pricing, a diverse product portfolio and exceptional customer service. While personalization is not a strong suit of Amazon Business, its robust online presence and massive market may be a better choice for others.
Staples, Office Depot and Quill may be a good fit for some small and medium businesses that do not have a strong technological focus and are looking for traditional office supplies.
Choosing an office supply vendor to partner with is a business decision that should be made after careful research, comparison and consideration. The right online office supply vendor can help drive business outcomes.
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