According to a recent CNBC poll, more than four in 10 Americans are engaged in the carpet commute. And with COVID-19 cases rising and falling at unpredictable intervals around the country, many employers expect their workforces to remain at least partially remote for the foreseeable future.
As a business owner, you’ve no doubt changed your operations to account for the realities of guiding a remote team. You hold meetings on Zoom. You check in with workers frequently. You use free tools like Google Voice and Docs. Yet, despite your best efforts, you may feel challenged when it comes to getting a handle on your corporate purchasing.
Buying useful items, including everyday supplies and key materials or components, is a much simpler process when everyone’s working in the same office. But when employees are scattered, purchasing can become a little more difficult. For instance, team members may neglect to talk about what they need until it becomes urgent — and you’re forced to pay top dollar. Similarly, you might have trouble finding what you need, especially with pandemic-linked shortages on everything from paper goods to tech products.
There’s a bright side to this seemingly gloomy cloud, though. By adopting a few purchasing strategies, you can minimize the friction associated with making buys, keep your company’s costs low, and still get the high-quality supplies and materials you need.
1. Keep Costs Down by Making Bulk Purchases
There’s a reason big warehouses like Costco offer business accounts: lots of smaller companies save by getting what they need most in large quantities. If you haven’t considered bulk buying, you may want to. And don’t forget that you can easily join a group purchasing organization (GPO) online to take this concept a step further.
GPOs are cohorts of companies, usually small businesses and startups, that want to reduce their costs by negotiating deeper discounts with suppliers of needed merchandise. The GPO handles the back-and-forth communications with vendors, getting the lowest cost-per-item rate available. As part of a thriving GPO that doesn’t ask you to commit money upfront for a membership fee, you may be able to slash your most frequent expenses month after month. Best of all, you can do everything from your home without stepping foot in a store.
2. Create a Centralized Purchasing Document
You’ll do yourself and your team a big favor by starting a collaborative spreadsheet that lists all the items you expect to need. Feel free to separate the list by departments, types of products, or any delineator that makes sense for your organization. Then, give all key personnel access to the document so they can make real-time requests.
This type of group approach to purchasing works because it holds everyone accountable. Plus, you’ll be able to see when someone makes an unusual request or a supply runs out much sooner than expected. Over time, you may even want to add new columns to the spreadsheet to keep track of when items are ordered, how much they cost, where they’re being sent, and when they arrive.
3. Ask Team Members to Report Deals
During your regular daily or weekly meetings with employees, take a few minutes to ask if they’ve seen any special sales or deals. Your workers may live in different parts of the country, so one person’s community could be offering incredible steals on anything from paper reams to ink cartridges.
Obviously, you’ll need to be careful so you don’t just buy things for the sake of getting what seems like a bargain but only eats up storage space. But it’s valuable to have a sense of how you can save dollars.
For instance, let’s say you create a Slack channel devoted to interesting sales that might be pertinent for your business purchases. A co-worker notices a deep discount on printers. Interestingly, one of your team members has mentioned the need for a more suitable printer to work at home. By taking advantage of the local sale and having the unit shipped to the right person, you may be able to greatly lower the printer’s normal retail price.
4. Use One Source to Pay for Purchases
As part of your mission to make business purchasing painless, consider putting all your buys on the same corporate credit or debit card. Many cards offer points and other savings, which will accrue month after month. Eventually, you may be able to buy some items for free by using your points at accepted sites like Amazon. And it’s much easier to dispute purchases via a credit card company than via other methods, such as checks.
A secondary advantage to using a single credit card account for purchases is that you’ll have all your purchasing information on one statement. In other words, you won’t have to hunt to review how much your organization spent every 30-day or 31-day cycle. You can then transfer the information to your collaborative spreadsheet.
Many businesses have discovered that remote working isn’t as tough as they originally thought. Even if you’re planning to move back to an office full-time after COVID-19 quarantine regulations are lifted, consider adopting purchasing behaviors that will effortlessly transfer. If your whole team needs to revert to telecommuting in the future, you can continue to buy confidently without making any changes to your purchasing protocol.
The post How to Make Business Purchasing from Home Easier appeared first on Home Business Magazine.
Author: Awais Ahmed
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