Over the last several weeks, we've examined just a few of the ways that your personal shopping preferences can shape how you buy for your business, saving time, money and effort. Our first and second installments discussed the biz spin on memberships and product reviews, respectively, and now it's time to take on the current champ of shopping trends: the online addict.
This shopper is a master multitasker, getting their shopping done while binging on the latest series on Netflix or while the treadmill. A click of the mouse or a swipe of the app and they've checked another item off their to-do list. It's fast, it's convenient, and it's easy. What's not to love? If you buy supplies for your office, then fast, convenient and easy are all high on your list of favorite qualities, so why wouldn't you look for that from a business supplier?
Luckily, the rapid development of technology has made the option to buy online just part of the cost of doing business. But not all ecommerce is created equal. So if you're an e-shopping expert at home in your pajamas, what should you be looking for when you're buying at the office? There are a few ways to make sure you're getting the most for your digital dollar:
- Expect more than just a website. While buying online from the comfort of your computer is fantastic, it's not the full package for someone with a busy, on-the-go job. A site that's responsive to mobile and tablet tools is a must, but it goes beyond even that. An app that's easy to use and fully functional is the gold standard. You want something that makes it easy to make and approve orders, track purchases, and process returns.
- Demand the same convenience you would get from a consumer website—but remember, you aren't just a consumer. Buying like you do in your personal time is a huge perk, but you want your online solution tailored to business—specifically your business. Look for time-saving and compliance features like shopping lists, product barcode scanning and auto-restock, as well as features meant specifically to make ordering for an office full of people easier, like mobile approvals and order requests .
- It's great to be able to order quickly and conveniently via a website—but the convenience of a website also means having a lot of products at your fingertips, which can make it difficult to decide which one's best. If you're buying for your business, then supplement your online shopping with expert assistance. Need help deciding what paper towels are best for your breakroom? Want to know what laptops would best suit your staff? Ask your account representatives and product experts to help make recommendations based on your office's unique needs.
- Business needs don't always crop up with plenty of notice—if you're a digital devotee, make sure there's a backup plan for when no one remembered to buy toilet paper for the bathroom or toner for the copier. Having the option to pop out of the office and buy it yourself from your established supplier is a big plus, and if their website has the ability to tell you what's in stock nearby so you can buy it and go pick it up, that's even better.