Find the Best Office Supplies With These Tips and Top Picks

Office supplies keep the office running. Find the best possible pricing and make sure you don’t miss a needed item with this best office supplies checklist.
Written by:  Bridey Joyce
Published:  April 29, 2024
women picking supplies

How is the supply closet looking in your office lately? Often, the closet is a reflection of the process used to fill it. If disorganization makes it hard to see what you have and get what you need, you may be overspending earlier in the procurement process. 

An organized procurement process makes getting your staff the supplies they need easier and more cost-effective. With the right process and technology, office supplies sourcing becomes an opportunity for savings and optimization instead of a race-to-the-bottom negotiation on gel pens. 

This article covers everything you need to know about understanding supply needs, setting up a simple but effective sourcing strategy, and incorporating software for better results. It also shares top office supplies items in every category. With some research and organization, you can start saving on them all.

Download the free ebook: 5 Ways Your Purchasing Process is Leaking Cash (And How to Fix It)

How to choose and source the best office supplies

Getting high-quality supplies at a reasonable price is an ongoing process for procurement and finance teams. But with the right steps and software, you can give buyers easy access to everything they need while maintaining budgetary control and data organization. 

Use the following steps to source and order all the supplies you need to succeed. 

1. Set a budget

Indirect procurement is often one of the big-ticket costs for an office. Setting and enforcing a budget can help avoid challenges like maverick spending and out-of-policy purchases. 

When setting a budget for office supplies, looking at your past spending data is the best place to start. 

  1. Identify your vendor pool: Make a list of all the vendors you currently use. This information may be spread across multiple sources, such as the finance database, corporate cards, purchase orders, and expense reports. Try to find every source of spending for all office supplies. 
  2. Collect historical invoices: Collect invoices for the previous 6 months of purchases. Looking at this invoice window should allow you to create a snapshot of annual spending for office supplies, including any seasonal purchases or changes in volume throughout the year. 
  3. Categorize purchases: If you’d like a more detailed view of office supplies spending, categorize line items or invoices by type, such as paper products, stationary supplies, printer ink and toner, and other common-use items. This will help you decide where to allocate specific portions of the budget. It may also highlight areas for review or streamlining through spend analysis
  4. Outline and communicate: Draft a simple budget with input from your department leaders. From there, you’ll have the information and centralized data to begin implementing budgetary controls.

Our invoice tracker is a great way to begin collecting spending data in one place. Use it as a first step to gather information on all the vendors you currently use. The tracker can provide basic insights on how much you’re spending in certain categories, by vendor, or in total. 

2. Make your required office supply checklist

What do you need to make your office run? Often, businesses use far more resources than they realize. An office supplies audit can help you understand which items help keep everyone productive. 

The same process used in the budgeting process below can aid you in identifying the type of products you use most often. Strategic sourcing and volume purchasing may result in better pricing and terms for these mission-critical items. 

Once you know what you’ve been buying, you can establish an office supplies list and create a replenishment schedule to accompany the budget discussed in the following step. This can also help reduce redundant supply orders that rob you of working capital advantages.

3. Source the best office supplies

With the information from your previous orders and supply checklist, you can begin to streamline your vendor pool. This ensures you work with a smaller, preferred list of high-quality vendors to gain better rates and access. 

  1. Evaluate supplier performance: Reliable vendors are crucial for maintaining uninterrupted office operations. Outlining minimum requirements within the purchasing policy is an easy way to ensure all suppliers meet your standards. Start by assessing potential vendors based on delivery times, product quality, and customer service responsiveness. Request references or check online reviews to gauge past performance. If you have a security or vendor questionnaire, ask your supplier to fill it out. 
  2. Compare pricing and terms: Gather quotes from each vendor for the items you purchase most frequently. Pay attention to the price, payment terms, minimum order quantities, and shipping costs. A comprehensive comparison helps ensure you're getting the best overall value.
  3. Consider product range and availability: Choose vendors that offer a broad product range relevant to your needs, which can simplify procurement processes. Also, assess their stock availability to reduce the risk of backorders that could disrupt operations. Look for ways to source out-of-stock items with alternatives or similar products that maintain high quality and reasonable prices.
  4. Negotiate contracts: Armed with research, begin negotiating contracts with preferred vendors. Focus on securing favorable terms, such as discounts for bulk purchases and assurances regarding product quality and delivery timelines.
  5. Establish vendor scorecards: Vendor scorecards are crucial for maintaining compliance and fostering competition among suppliers. Using them helps ensure suppliers meet performance standards and continually improve their service and product offerings.
5 Ways Your Purchasing Process Is Leaking Cash, (and How to Fix It)
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5 Ways Your Purchasing Process Is Leaking Cash, (and How to Fix It)

Identify top areas where your current purchasing process might be falling short—and costing you BIG.

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There are plenty of must-have supplies to keep offices running smoothly. Here are the top items you should consider when building an office supplies list for your location. They’re broken out by category so you can organize your needs and see how each category fits into your overall indirect spending budget.

Here are the most popular office supplies categories and items for your office: 

Paper

Everything your team needs to document and present their best work:

  • Printer paper
  • Photo paper
  • Legal pads
  • Sticky notes
  • Envelopes
  • Cardstock
  • Copy paper
  • Letterhead
  • Tracing paper
  • Graph paper
  • Drafting paper
  • Brochure and flyer paper
  • Business card stock
  • Index cards

Binding

Office essentials for keeping printed materials organized and looking professional:

  • Binder clips
  • Ring binders
  • Binding machines
  • Comb binding spines
  • Spiral binding coils
  • Wire binding spools
  • Presentation covers
  • Report covers
  • Pocket folders
  • File folders
  • Document holders
  • Adhesive mounting squares
  • Glue sticks
  • Tape dispensers
  • Double-sided tape
  • Staplers and staples
  • Hole punches
  • Fasteners

Writing

Everything you need for taking notes and organizing to-dos:

  • Ballpoint pens
  • Gel pens
  • Mechanical pencils
  • Highlighters
  • Permanent markers
  • Dry erase markers
  • Fine line markers
  • Rollerball pens
  • Stylus pens
  • Sharpened pencils
  • Erasers
  • Correction tape/fluid
  • Whiteboard markers
  • Colored pencils
  • Graphite sticks

Storage and desk organizers

Keep your desk tidy and your priorities clear with organized information:

  • Filing cabinets
  • Desk organizers
  • Bookshelves
  • Storage boxes
  • Drawer organizers
  • Wall mounted shelves
  • Magazine holders
  • Document trays
  • Pen holders
  • Cable management boxes
  • Lockable storage units
  • Rolling storage carts
  • Stackable desk organizer
  • Hanging file folders
  • Storage baskets
  • Under-desk drawers
  • Desktop file sorters
  • Lateral file cabinets
  • Mobile pedestals
  • Office supply caddies

Break room supplies

Get everyone motivated with the tools and refreshments to enjoy the workday:

  • Coffee machine
  • Kettle
  • Microwave
  • Refrigerator
  • Water cooler
  • Dish soap
  • Sponges and cleaning cloths
  • Paper towels
  • Trash bags
  • Recycling bins
  • Disposable cups, plates, and utensils
  • Tea assortment
  • Instant coffee packets
  • Sugar and sweeteners
  • Creamer
  • Snacks (assorted)
  • Can opener
  • Toaster or toaster oven
  • First aid kit
  • Bulletin board or whiteboard

Furniture and desk accessories

A comfy desk chair and the right mix of furniture lets everyone collaborate how they want:

  • Ergonomic office chairs
  • Adjustable standing desks
  • Conference tables
  • Executive desks
  • Modular workstations
  • Reception sofas
  • Break room dining tables and chairs
  • Bookcases and shelving units
  • File cabinets
  • Office partitions and dividers
  • Task lighting lamps
  • Lounge armchairs
  • Whiteboards and corkboards
  • Computer carts and stands
  • Training tables
  • Guest seating chairs
  • Height-adjustable monitor arms
  • Keyboard trays
  • Desk organizers and accessories holders
  • Privacy screens

Computer peripherals

Everything your team needs to stay connected when inside and outside the office:

  • Ergonomic keyboards
  • Wireless mice
  • High-definition webcams
  • Noise-canceling headphones
  • External hard drives
  • USB flash drives
  • Dual monitors
  • Monitor stands
  • Docking stations
  • Laser printers
  • Scanners
  • Speakerphones for conference calls
  • Desk microphones for video conferencing
  • Cable management solutions
  • Surge protectors and UPS systems
  • Bluetooth adapters
  • Graphic tablets for designers
  • CD/DVD external drives
  • Network routers
  • Wi-Fi extenders

Facilities maintenance

The necessary tools to keep every desk clean and every process working smoothly:

  • Cleaning supplies (disinfectants, glass cleaner, etc.)
  • Paper towels and tissues
  • Hand sanitizer and soap
  • Trash bags and can liners
  • Air fresheners and deodorizers
  • Light bulbs and lighting supplies
  • Batteries for various devices
  • First aid kits
  • Toilet paper and bathroom supplies
  • Safety signs and equipment (wet floor signs, fire extinguishers)
  • Tools for minor repairs (screwdrivers, hammers, wrenches)
  • Ladders and step stools
  • HVAC filters
  • Pest control supplies
  • Floor mats for entryways
  • Window cleaning equipment
  • Water filters for drinking fountains or coffee machines
  • Gardening tools for office landscape maintenance
  • Locks and security system maintenance tools
5 Ways Your Purchasing Process Is Leaking Cash, (and How to Fix It)
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5 Ways Your Purchasing Process Is Leaking Cash, (and How to Fix It)

Identify top areas where your current purchasing process might be falling short—and costing you BIG.

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Supplies for an open-plan office

Open-plan offices have become increasingly popular in recent years. They’ve been around since the 1960s but have enjoyed a resurgence in the tech era. They offer more flexible office space options for meeting the needs of remote and hybrid workforces

Although they share many of the same needs as their more traditional counterparts, open-plan offices also have some individual infrastructure and furniture needs to balance privacy with opportunities for collaboration. 

Here is a list of supplies you might consider if you’re looking to build an open-plan office or adapt your current workspace to be more flexible: 

  • Adjustable standing desks
  • Mobile pedestals for personal storage
  • Acoustic panels and screens for noise reduction
  • Modular sofas and lounge chairs for informal meetings
  • Flexible cubicle and cluster seating solutions
  • Large communal tables
  • Whiteboards and glass boards for brainstorming sessions
  • Desk dividers for privacy options
  • Floor lamps and task lighting solutions
  • Cable management systems to maintain a tidy appearance
  • Collaborative technology platforms (e.g., digital whiteboards)
  • Portable room dividers to create flexible meeting spaces

Home office supplies versus communal office supplies

The transition from traditional to remote offices shifts supply needs significantly. Remote work emphasizes individual, ergonomic home office setups, requiring personalized chairs, desks, and tech accessories. 

In contrast, communal offices focus on bulk orders of shared resources like printers and large meeting tables. This change impacts ordering strategies, prioritizing flexibility and personalization for remote setups.

Software helps companies bridge the gap between supplies for the traditional office setting and those for remote or distributed workers. With a procurement platform, individual buyers can order supplies for their location. The platform handles guided purchasing, so all procurement remains within policy — no matter where the employee sits. 

Manage your office supplies ordering with Order.co

Order.co makes it easy for buyers and office colleagues to get exactly what they need with optimized pricing and flexible payment terms. The platform centralizes ordering and payment for suppliers for easy purchasing, speedy payments, and swift substitutions of out-of-stock items. 

To see how Order.co can streamline the procurement process for your top office supplies categories, check out a demo today. 

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