Millions of people use office supplies every day, whether or not they work in an office. Many office supplies are extremely common items that are used everywhere, like pens, notepads, and calendars, and could be considered essentials of day-to-day life. Whether for work, school, or home, office supplies are a great example of a type of product that's always in demand — and that means tons of opportunity for starting an office supplies business.
If you decide to enter this industry, you can provide your customers with the shopping experience they're looking for. With the right eCommerce software you can build a feature-rich online store ready to compete in quality with the biggest retailers. Shift4Shop has everything you need to create your online store, market your brand, and build and grow your online business.
There are numerous kinds of items you can keep in stock when selling office supplies, and they can generally be split into 2 types of products: equipment that doesn't need to be purchased repeatedly (although it may need to be replaced), and other supplies that need to be replenished on a regular basis. For example, a business might make a one-time purchase of a dozen staplers, but will then need to repeatedly buy staples — and later, as they grow their team, the business might place another stapler order.
A new customer arriving at your online store will expect you to sell refills or supplies for all products that need them, so to reuse the above example, if you're going to sell staplers you need to sell staples too, and vice versa. Office supplies that go together like this give you a great way to build a solid revenue stream, as the customer's initial purchase will have them coming back repeatedly for refills. (We have some tips for helping customers remain stocked up on the items they need — and simultaneously increasing your sales — in the next section.)
This is already a lot of products, and there are still other types of office supplies and accessories we could add to this list. Brands are also a consideration, since there are dozens of office supply manufacturers competing with one another, so if you add them into the equation you can quickly arrive at an inventory of thousands of products. Our best advice is to start smaller, and pick a single brand or a limited number of products to focus on until you're ready to grow at your own pace.
There are certain products that nobody ever remembers to buy, even though running out is extremely inconvenient. Office supplies are like this for a lot of people, and not just businesses — many people work at home or need office supplies for other reasons, like school projects, or maybe they habitually use a specific product like sticky notes. The problem arises when someone uses the product just enough to use it up regularly, but slowly enough that they always forget when they're running out. While the actual use of the item has become routine, the act of replacing it isn't!
You can help these customers by using eCommerce subscription software to let them set up auto-delivery of their needed products. Shift4Shop's Autoship™ Recurring Orders module provides a "set-and-forget" subscription option for any products you choose. Configurable order intervals allow customers to select how often to automatically reorder their item (30 days, 60 days, monthly, etc.) so they can time their subscription to match the frequency at which they run out. Customers can also view and manage their subscriptions in their "My Account" page of your online store.
By offering subscriptions, you provide your customers with a solution to a common problem, and your business earns a stream of consistent income. You're also likely to earn more customers when they discover that your website offers subscriptions, as this feature represents the type of convenience eCommerce shoppers are looking for. It's a win-win situation all around!
Dropshipping is an eCommerce order fulfillment model in which the retailer doesn't keep any inventory in stock, but instead forwards all orders to their supplier. The retailer chooses a markup to add to each product and then keeps the difference when an order comes in. The supplier itself then handles the fulfillment process, packing and shipping orders directly to the customer. This reduces workload and costs for the merchant, as there's no need to invest up front in inventory, maintain warehousing space, or buy packing materials.
To start dropshipping office supplies, you need to form a relationship with a supplier willing to dropship for you. This used to be more difficult, but dropshipping has become much more popular in the past years, so many wholesale suppliers are ready to dropship for you right away.
Of course, you also need an eCommerce platform that supports the type of features you need for dropshipping: the ability to automatically forward orders to the supplier and preferably a tool for quickly importing products to your website. Shift4Shop is highly effective eCommerce software for dropshipping and allows you to designate any of your suppliers as a dropshipper.
The following wholesalers offer dropshipping services for online stores. These suppliers offer different types of products including office supplies, electronics, appliances, and more. Whether you want to focus specifically on smaller office supplies like paper products, or become a retailer of complete office solutions including larger merchandise like furniture, you can find a great supplier below.
B2B eCommerce involves selling your products to other businesses, either instead of or alongside selling to individual consumers. B2B eCommerce is a steadily growing field and can provide lucrative long-term relationships with other businesses. Office supplies are a great industry for B2B sales since all businesses need them to operate.
Shift4Shop has everything you need to sell B2B online, including features to help smooth the process of placing large orders, B2B-specific pricing, quantity-based pricing, and more. You can even start out as a small business selling only B2C (to consumers), and then transition into a B2B wholesaler yourself as you grow. If you want to sell to both businesses and individuals at the same time, you can do it easily with Shift4Shop.
Customer Groups allow you to segment your customer base in any way you see fit, so you can send each group a different email newsletter, provide different pricing for different types of customers, hide parts of your site from certain groups, and much more.
Minimum Order Quantities and Bulk Discount Tiers allow you to sell products in bulk at different prices depending on how many are purchased, lowering the price for orders as they get larger. Minimum quantities can be used to specify order sizes that qualify for wholesale pricing or to set a general minimum order for certain products that must be purchased by the pallet or pack.
B2B Cost Center Locations allow you to specify a list of addresses the customer can choose to have their order shipped to, instead of entering an address at checkout. This is great for supplying an exclusive list of customers as well as franchise locations and more.
The Quick Order Pad is a solution for fast reordering, enabling customers to quickly enter a list of SKUs of items they want to order instead of needing to browse your store and add products to their cart manually. Additionally, customers can instantly reorder from within the order history on their account page, and can also save their carts for later use.
This is just a quick overview of Shift4Shop's B2B features that are ideal for selling office supplies online. Many are built right into the platform itself, making them accessible even to brand new businesses.
Shift4Shop is the best solution for starting and growing an online business selling office supplies. In addition to the B2B features above, Shift4Shop includes hundreds of features and tools for building your eCommerce website, marketing your business, inventory management, and much more. Best yet, if you use Shift4 Payments as your payment gateway, you can access our free End-to-End eCommerce plan. This plan has no limits and no monthly fee, and includes all our features.
You'll never need to wonder how to build a website to sell office supplies with these intuitive tools at your fingertips. Edit your store's appearance easily and see your changes in real-time.
No matter how many products your store has, you can organize them into as many categories and subcategories as needed, with your category structure automatically added to navigation for customers.
Another great tool for online stores with large catalogs, our CSV product import lets you add thousands of products to your store at once. You can also import and export numerous other kinds of data like tax rates, customer records, and more.
Sell office supplies on Amazon, eBay, Facebook, and Google Shopping alongside your website, while handling all your orders in your central Shift4Shop dashboard. Grow your customer base without doubling your workload!
Access a full suite of marketing features to get the word out across email, paid ads, social media, and more, plus boost your organic traffic with the best built-in SEO in the industry.
Shift4Shop is powered by Shift4 Payments, an industry-leading processor that allows you to accept credit cards and several alternate payment types. We also integrate with over 160 payment providers covering other methods like cryptocurrency, digital wallets, international payment solutions, and more.
A sleek, modern free eCommerce theme with a professional look, perfect for office supplies including technology, furniture, and more. The sticky menu remains on the screen while the customer scrolls, making navigation more convenient.