If you have a home office, or if you are in charge of purchasing for your place of business, office supplies must be restocked regularly. Purchasing office supplies online is a great candidate for two reasons:
Not all office supply websites are created equal. Aside from the obvious differences in product selection and price, online office supply stores differ in other important ways. Particularly if you’re setting up an office for the first time and need to buy a set of furnishings and some electronic equipment, your experience will vary greatly based on the supplier you choose. This review site offers a comprehensive analysis of several top office supply websites as well as articles related to office supplies to help make your decision easier. At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don't Have To.™
Here are the main categories we used to determine the ratings of various office supply websites:
The size of a website’s product selection might seem like an obvious comparison tool; however, depending on your goals, you may not always choose the supplier with the biggest inventory. Each site included in this review comparison has an extensive product selection, but some sites focus more on certain areas. The top site has the best selection of all sites reviewed, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will have the specific product(s) you are looking for. Browse the side-by-side site comparison to find the site with the best selection for the specific products you need.
Types of products typically offered by office supply stores:
-General office supplies (writing tools, paper, signs/labels, toner, calendars, filing supplies, etc.)
-Electronics (digital cameras, computers, printers, shredders, fax machines, etc.)
-Furniture (desks, chairs, tables, bookcases, etc.)
Many office suppliers offer custom printing services. Online printing services allow users to upload custom content to the site for printing and then have the order shipped to a home or business. As area office stores often double as drop-off points for package carriers like FedEx and UPS, these stores are able to offer shipping services directly from their retail locations. Aside from fun projects like cards and flyers, custom printing services can also be used for forms and business cards.
In addition to printing services, some office suppliers are doing their part to decrease the environmental impact of the disposable materials and electronics used in offices. Most of the sites we reviewed included several recycled or eco-friendly products. Ink cartridge recycling/refill services and electronics recycling are great ways for suppliers to help make the industry more sustainable.
As mentioned above, returning online purchases is a hassle. Sites with area stores across the country have an automatic advantage in this area if they choose to accept in-store returns for online purchases. For online-only retailers, it is still possible to make returns easy for customers. Some sites offer free return shipping and 100% satisfaction guarantees. The time limit and ease of returns is a major factor when choosing an online office supply store, especially for first-time customers or when buying new supplies for the first time.
The quality of the website is an obvious concern anytime you’re shopping online. This review gives preference to websites that are easy to navigate and provide clear, complete product information to make it easier to select the right products. Because of the hassle of returning items by mail, shopping online requires more diligence in product selection, and good websites decrease the chance that a customer will order the wrong thing.
Here we've examined the ease of the purchasing process and the types of payment accepted by each company.
The nature of office supply purchasing is ongoing. In most situations, supplies must be replenished regularly, and particularly for businesses (or home office users), the savings from discount programs can greatly affect the total yearly spending on supplies. For this review, sites were compared for programs including store brand discounts, teacher discounts, customer rewards programs, bulk pricing, wholesale pricing and e-mail coupons.
When purchasing office supplies online, keep in mind your specific needs. This review site is geared toward home office users and small businesses. However, a detailed matrix is provided for all reviewed sites, including product selection, services, website quality, and discount programs. Depending on the specific product(s) or service(s) you require, you should review the matrix to find out what site scored the highest in those areas. The top three sites were determined to offer the most extensive product selections paired with the best website experiences; however, you may find that only the #10-ranked site has exactly the product you require.
The matrix is provided to help you narrow your search without having to research all of your options independently, and although some sites have higher overall scores, that doesn’t mean they are the only option for your individual situation. Be sure to visit our top-ranked sites for office supplies: Office Depot, Staples and Office Max.