Three tips for smarter business spending

In today's climate, where businesses are fighting to survive rather than thrive, here are three top tips for controlling spend on an oft-overlooked area of expenditure workplace or business consumables.

Three tips for smarter business spending

Tip 1 – Consolidate and control your purchasing

Business consumables refer to the everyday essential items that keep a business running smoothly but take time, budget and resource. 

When thinking about the multitude of items that a business consumes, it suddenly becomes apparent that there is a very long list of items.  Paper, ink and toner and mailing supplies typically form the biggest area of spend. Followed by filing and organisational items, writing and planning and cleaning and hygiene essentials. Every business needs to provide refreshments to employees – so the list extends to food, catering and related appliances. Finally, there are bigger ticket items required to create an effective workplace environment such as seating, desking and office storage.

Placing some rigour around budget control and suppression of expenditure is possible via consideration of who, what, where and when purchases are made.

Who: Centralise purchasing to one person or a small team. Then, implement a stock management process to weed out duplicate orders, prevent over-stocking and eliminate frivolous purchases. Additionally, this helps mitigate against stock outs that drives distressed purchasing that always prove to be more costly.

What: Set a clear budget and have an order approval process to monitor and control spending from different areas of the business. Consider the items bought the most – can they be ordered in bulk and then split down?

Where: Reduce the supplier base to a trusted ‘one-stop-shop’ partner in order to take out the hidden costs of managing multiple suppliers. This pools purchasing power into a single point allowing a business to foster a better relationship, as well as being in a stronger position to request better credit terms, preferential prices and bulk buy discounts.

A preferred supplier can work in partnership, giving advice on how to consolidate spend across multiple product and service categories, delivering everything a business needs in one order, one delivery, one invoice! 

Consolidation will minimise the total cost of procurement, concentrate buying power, reduce the supplier base and associated management costs, simplify operational processes and reduce administration. This delivers increased visibility for better control on expenditure and many businesses commonly report significant cost reductions. This of course, sits alongside an added benefit of fewer deliveries that reduce CO2 and carbon footprint!

When: Cashflow, budgets and lines of credit all determine a business’s purchasing power. But with a small amount of foresight and effort, it is possible to time purchases, particularly on high volume commodity items, in order to maximise value for money, by; taking advantage of special promotions, introductory offers, and bulk buy discounts.

Tip 2Swap to own brand alternatives

As with supermarket shopping, there is value in switching to own brand alternatives. To remove some of the ongoing budget pressure that many businesses face, there are extensive ranges of own brand products that will help the business realise savings.

This approach has been adopted widely in the grocery arena as is evidenced by many high publicity ‘blind taste tests’ that feature in consumer research and prime time TV advertising campaigns.

These own brand ranges offer incredible price points alongside quality that is comparable to, if not better than the leading brands.

 Experience has shown that own brand versions of common business consumable items will very often be the key to highly competitive prices and exceptional value for money. It may take a few attempts to find the right product for the exact business need but cost driven swap outs are definitely worth a try.

Tip 3Join loyalty programs

As consumers we commonly have wallets full of loyalty cards or phones brimming with a plethora of reward apps.  This consumer mindset can easily translate to business purchases too, so that beneficial rewards are generated from everyday unavoidable business spend.

Searching out suppliers that offer loyalty programs, registering the business for an account and signing up to a newsletter takes minutes but can generate significant payback. There are commonly incentives given via money-off vouchers for a first order, plus subscribers will be the first to hear about new products and services and receive offers for free samples or trials.

 As consumer trends continue to enter the business to business world, more workplace suppliers are now rewarding loyalty with their own rewards programs or even by partnering with recognised loyalty programs.

Considering which loyalty program gives the biggest benefit to a business is key.

The simplest option is to redeem a benefit directly with the issuing company via a price discount or money off the next order voucher.

Alternatively,  seeking a supplier offering a recognised loyalty program like Nectar or Avios can allow a business greater flexibility to earn and redeem with a multitude of providers generating rewards from a much broader range of business spend.

Loyalty will bring preferential treatment, enhanced services and ongoing lower price points. They may not be a game changer – but it is wise to take advantage of all available rewards. 

This article comes courtesy of Viking Office UK Ltd –

Established 34 years ago, with a choice of over 47,000 products online, Viking is a one stop shop for workplace essentials. Offering an extensive range of stationery, catering, cleaning, technology and furniture supplies alongside facilities, tools and maintenance items to keep premises in top condition. 

Viking also offers business services. With print specialists to handle promotional merchandise, brochures, flyers and leaflets as well as loose and bound printed materials. While the interiors experts support with a breadth of solutions for flexi-working right the way through to full concept office design and refurbishment.

Everything is just a few clicks away – with next day delivery, plus perks like free gifts and Nectar points on orders – dealing with Viking simplifies purchasing processes, reduces invoice admin, offers exceptional value for money and frees up time, so that customers can focus on their business priorities.

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