Office supply, an essential vertical for stationery stores, is always high in demand. Companies of all sizes – large, medium, small or startups need supplies on a daily basis. Traditionally, companies have been sourcing their office supplies from wholesalers or vendors who have a physical presence. However, with changing times, online office supply stores have started emerging to provide convenience to customers.
If you are starting an office supply store, here is your useful guide to it.
Understand the Need of Business
Do a business requirement analysis as to why want to open an office supply store and what benefits it would bring. Do you want to source additional revenues, establish an online presence in the market or expand your customer reach?
Knowledge About Office Supply Store
You must have experience and knowledge about how an office supplies store works; what are the various types of office functions where supplies are required; how to source the supplies; networking with office supplies distributors; how to sell online and many other parameters. You also need to keep yourself updated about the latest office supplies in the market.
Understand the Target Market
The target market depends on the range and type of office supplies you are offering. If you are selling high-end supplies, then you need to find premium customers. If you are selling the regular and most commonly used supplies, then you can have a wider target audience. If you are selling personalized supplies, then you need to find a niche. Would you like to cater to only the domestic market or expand your reach across the geographical borders?
Find the Right Wholesale Suppliers and Drop-Shippers to Partner With
Purchasing goods at wholesale prices would be an important requirement in the online store. You will have to do thorough research on finding the right fit among various office supplies drop-shippers, office supplies distributors and office supplies wholesalers. You may choose one or many suppliers, depending on the nature of the products you are selling and the geographical reach of customers. It is very important to negotiate the prices as well as the terms and conditions of the contract to ensure a smooth supply chain management process and satisfaction to the end customers.
Make a Business Plan
The basic revenue model of an office supply store, whether online or brick and mortar, is to procure goods in wholesale and then selling them at a top to earn profits. You need to formulate a robust and sustainable business plan for starting an office supply store. You can have a small store to start or you begin online, whatever is feasible for your business plan. Alternatively, you can first start online and then open stores or the other way around.
Here are various steps that you should include in a business plan to start an office supply store:
Plan Your Business:
Decide how you to want launch and promote your business, what is your target audience, how you would set up the supply chain, etc. Remember that every decision should be taken after considering how pricing structure is going to affect your bottom line.
Create a Legal Entity:
Every business, whether offline or online needs to have a legal entity. It can steer you in the right direction in case of all legal liabilities that arise out of doing business. The legal entity also comprises obtaining necessary permits and licenses as well as payment of various state and central/federal taxes.
Open a Bank Account:
Cash transactions are becoming rare and often considered dubious, especially if it involves huge chunks of money. Moreover, most customers these days prefer to make electronic payments. So, opening a bank account is a must and an obvious item on your to-do list of opening office supply store.
Define Your Brand:
When you see the golden arc in the form of ‘M’, you immediately know its McDonald. So, give a theme, logo, colours and a tagline to your brand so that customers can recognize your company. The way you define your brand can distinguish you from competitors.
Establish Digital Presence:
In today’s digital age, a business website is of the utmost importance. It creates online visibility for your brand and helps people find you easily. Did you know 81%of shoppers do online research before buying products? Just imagine, if they don’t find you online, you don’t exist for them! A website can drive greater sales by forcing more conversions. If you can’t create a website, at least create social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram and/or LinkedIn.
Upload Your Products and Feature a Daily Deal:
Keep your target audience engaged by uploading new products and posting a daily deal. This will keep not only help you to highlight your products but also draw customers’ attention towards it, thereby boosting your sales. You can use good software application with automated marketing features to make these uploads easier.
Keep Customers Coming Back
Customer loyalty is fickle these days. They just switch to another brand or website if they find a better product or deal. What can you do to keep your customers coming back to your business? Well, you can advertise, run contests, offer freebies, give discounts and launch new products at regular intervals among other things.
Investing in a Team
You can drive your business as a one-person army if the operations are small. But, as your business grows, you need to take more people on board. You should hire people who can overcome your limitations or knowledge gaps and add value to your business. For example, if you need to create a distribution network, you can hire someone who has good contracts in the office supply industry. This will reduce your workload tremendously. You may also hire a digital marketing specialist to handle your online presence.
Setting up an office store is no mean feat. But, with careful market analysis and proper planning, you can eliminate or mitigate the risks and failures.