Office Supply Categories (And How to Save on All of Them)

How many office supplies categories get by with minimal oversight? Truth is, probably a lot. Read more here to learn how to bring spend under total control.
Written by:  Bridey Joyce
Published:  March 12, 2024
reviewing office supply purchasing

It takes a lot of “stuff” to run a successful business. Daily operations require on-hand materials to organize tasks, serve clients, manage facilities care, support employees, and promote the business for growth. Keeping the office stocked and ready is a task unto itself. 

Organizing the procurement function for your office supplies list can be complex, but it doesn’t need to be difficult. Yet over 80 percent of leaders admit their indirect spend is not well-managed

A methodical approach to sourcing indirect procurement categories can help you meet daily needs and manage inventory. Stepping up to procurement software can make things even easier, saving your company a lot of time and money. 

This article delivers everything you need to know about managing office supplies categories for the office, including:

  • Essential office supplies categories to stock
  • Finding the best office supplies for all categories
  • Biggest pitfalls when procuring office supplies
  • Cost-efficient procurement for office supplies categories

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

Essential office supplies categories

Category management isn’t just for enterprise companies. Creating a well-organized procurement process with benchmarking for major purchase items and categories makes it easier to buy at competitive rates. 

Check out this office supply checklist for the most common procurement items businesses need by category, including sections for specialized verticals such as service businesses and cannabis dispensaries and cultivators. 

General office supplies

  • Pens and pencils
  • Notebooks and notepads
  • Planners
  • Hole punchers
  • Paper towels
  • Business cards
  • Staplers and staples
  • Hole punches
  • Calculators
  • Label maker
  • Pushpins
  • Rubber bands
  • Bulletin boards or whiteboards
  • Paper clips and binder clips
  • Scissors
  • Highlighters and markers
  • Tape and glue sticks
  • Printer paper
  • Toner cartridges
  • Envelopes and mailing supplies
  • File folders and document organizers
  • Whiteboard markers and erasers
  • Sticky notes
  • Batteries and chargers
  • Breakroom supplies
  • Janitorial products


  • Computers and laptops
  • Monitors and display screens
  • Keyboards and mice
  • Printers and scanners
  • Shredders
  • USB flash drives and external hard drives
  • Networking equipment (routers, modems)
  • Surge protectors
  • Power strips
  • Software licenses (office suites, design tools)
  • Webcams and microphones for virtual meetings
  • Projectors and presentation remotes


  • Ergonomic office chairs
  • Adjustable standing desks
  • Conference tables
  • Cubicle partitions and privacy screens
  • Filing cabinets and storage units
  • Office sofas and lounge chairs
  • Bookcases and shelving units
  • Desk organizers and pen holders
  • Monitor stands and computer risers
  • Keyboard trays and under-desk drawers
  • Floor mats for chair casters
  • Desk lamps and lighting solutions


  • File boxes
  • Stackable storage bins
  • Wall-mounted shelves
  • Drawer dividers for small items
  • Lockable storage cabinets
  • Over-the-door hanging organizers
  • Rolling utility carts with drawers
  • Clear document cases and folders
  • Desk-side recycling bins 

Packaging and shipping

  • Bubble wrap and packing peanuts
  • Shipping boxes in various sizes
  • Packaging tape and dispensers
  • Mailing envelopes, including padded ones
  • Stretch wrap for securing pallets
  • Postal scales and shipping labels
  • Poly mailers for non-fragile items
  • Customized branding stickers 
  • Return address stamps and ink pads
5 Ways Your Purchasing Process Is Leaking Cash, (and How to Fix It)

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.

Download the ebook

Service-based business consumables

Service businesses often have different needs than the standard office. Many of these products are consumables, so purchasing in bulk rates for better discounts makes the most sense. Check out the items service-based businesses need most. 

Hair salons and spas

  • Towels and washcloths
  • Linens and blankets
  • Disposable robes and slippers
  • Sanitizing wipes and sprays
  • Essential oils and diffusers
  • Massage oils and lotions
  • Hair styling products
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Facial masks
  • Skincare products
  • Disinfectant for tools and surfaces
  • Candles or electric candle lamps
  • Appointment books and client record cards

Gyms and fitness centers

  • Barbells
  • Exercise machines
  • Mirrors
  • Equipment lockers
  • Yoga mats
  • First aid kit
  • Cleaning sprays
  • Exercise bands
  • Small equipment
  • Sterilization pouches for instruments

Cannabis businesses

  • Grow room documentation supplies
  • Label printers and labels 
  • Child-resistant packaging 
  • Security logbooks for visitor and employee tracking
  • Point of sale systems and peripherals
  • Cleaning supplies specific to grow rooms and retail spaces
  • Employee uniforms or branded apparel
  • Hygrometers and thermometers
  • Trimming scissors
  • Cleaning solution
  • Compliance documentation folders or binders
  • Hand sanitizer dispensers​​
  • Waste disposal bags 
  • UV-C sanitizing lights
  • Product production equipment

Finding the best office supplies for every category

Adopting better procurement processes can help preserve capital and reduce waste as businesses grow. Strategic sourcing ensures companies purchase the right quality and quantity of supplies from reliable vendors at competitive prices. 

Strategic procurement management looks at consumption patterns to forecast future needs and negotiate contracts with flexibility and scalability. These practices also build stronger supplier relationships to unlock additional savings through discounts and value-added services. 

Use the following strategies to find the best deal on all top office supplies list items:

Conduct a spend analysis: Regularly review and categorize the expenses associated with each office supplies category to identify spending patterns and opportunities for cost reduction.

Consolidate suppliers: Reduce the number of suppliers for similar categories to leverage bulk purchasing, improve negotiation power, and simplify supply chain management.

Develop supplier relationships: Foster long-term partnerships with key suppliers rather than treating each purchase separately (transactional vendor relationships). This leads to better terms, discounts, and access to special promotions.

Implement procurement solutions: Use electronic procurement systems to streamline the purchasing process, enforce policy compliance, and achieve better transparency in spending.

Adopt sustainable practices: Select supplies and suppliers to reduce environmental impact and lower costs in the long term through sustainability practices.

Regularly review contracts: Continuously assess contracts with suppliers to ensure they remain competitive and meet the organization's changing needs.

Utilize demand planning tools: Forecast future needs based on historical consumption data. This reduces the risk of overstocking or stock shortfalls.

5 Ways Your Purchasing Process Is Leaking Cash, (and How to Fix It)

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.

Download the ebook

Top pitfalls in procurement for top office supplies categories

Strong procurement starts with a strong process. When evaluating and refining the purchasing process in an organization, be sure to look at common areas where many companies stumble on procurement optimization.

Lack of documented process: Without uniform standards and a sound procurement process for office supplies, organizations purchase redundant, out-of-policy, or unnecessary items. This leads to a wasted procurement budget and increased costs.

Overreliance on single suppliers: Dependence on a single supply source or transactional supplier relationships can lead to supply chain vulnerabilities, including supplier issues or market changes. Diversifying the supplier base can mitigate these risks and ensure continuity of supply. Look for ways to ensure the business has a fallback for critical items, either through supplier contract redundancy or with a platform to find alternative suppliers in cases of out-of-stock goods.

Spotty visibility: Without a clear view of spending across departments or business units, it becomes difficult to identify areas for cost savings or negotiate bulk discounts. A centralized procurement system provides visibility into all purchasing activities and enables strategic decision-making based on comprehensive data.

Light contract management: Mismanaged contracts result in missed opportunities for cost savings. They also open the door to non-compliance with terms and conditions. Build a contract management policy and system that makes compliance review and approval part of the standard procurement workflow to avoid contract issues.

Skipping sustainability: Ignoring the environmental impact of office supplies can result in missed opportunities for sustainability practices that could save money and reduce the organization’s carbon footprint over time. Sustainability-minded procurement is also valuable for younger companies hoping to attract funding from angel investors and venture capitalists. 

Lack of vendor performance evaluation: Failing to review contracts by using vendor scorecards with suppliers regularly may cause organizations to miss out on better terms or fail to adjust to changing needs and market conditions. Conducting routine lifecycle management for all active supplies ensures they continue to meet compliance and pricing benchmarks and acceptable thresholds of purchase price variance for competitive results.

Maintaining manual processes: Failing to utilize available technology for procurement processes can result in inefficiencies, lack of transparency, and missed opportunities for cost savings through electronic systems.

5 Cost-efficient procurement strategies for all office supplies categories

There are a few pitfalls to procurement, but just as many ways to optimize the purchasing process to make it faster, easier, and more cost-effective. Consider the following five strategies for preserving cash and improving the bottom line: 

  1. Leverage bulk buying: Consolidate orders for office supplies to take advantage of bulk purchase discounts. Larger orders often secure better pricing, reducing the cost per unit significantly. Some companies achieve this strategy through a group purchasing organization. A platform like enhances the benefits of traditional group purchasing in many ways. 
  1. Strengthen supplier negotiation: In a landscape where nearly 90 percent of stakeholders feel that contract negotiation isn’t very effective, it’s important to find ways to partner with suppliers to secure more favorable terms or discounts. Long-term relationships can also open up opportunities for exclusive deals or savings. These partnerships are great for both sides: Buyers get strong pricing and service, while suppliers can count on a steady recurring revenue stream with a streamlined transaction process. 
  1. Explore local vendors: Sometimes, local suppliers offer competitive prices and faster delivery times, reducing overall costs associated with shipping and handling. Buying locally also fosters better environmental procurement outcomes since supplies travel shorter distances and produce fewer overhead costs. 
  1. Consider multi-year contracts: Locking in prices with multi-year contracts can protect against price increases and provide cost certainty over time. However, ensure there's flexibility to adjust as needs change.
  1. Get procurement technology: Implement eprocurement systems that streamline the purchasing process, allowing for better tracking, comparison shopping, and access to online discounts unavailable through traditional channels.

Bring all your office supplies category purchases together with

No matter what your business needs to run, implementing procurement software simplifies managing all the top procurement categories. With, companies streamline procurement from request to settlement. The platform empowers buyers with access to curated catalogs for easy purchasing from every vendor and creates more time for accounting through automated approval and reconciliation. It gives finance teams visibility and budgetary control through a well-designed process and reporting suite. 

If you’re ready to harness the power of technology to build more efficiency and cost-savings into every office supplies category, get a demo of today

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