When staff members shop for office supplies, it’s probably not uncommon for them to compare prices to find the best weekly deals.

While it’s done in an effort to help save money, a bargain-hunting mindset can ultimately backfire on the company’s bigger-picture expense reduction goals. Office supply procurement can be prone to this—more so than other spend categories—because items can be purchased across multiple vendors/websites that feature deals. However, these deals are essentially loss leaders. Efforts to maximize savings—as well as your staff’s time—can be better spent focusing on purchasing office supplies through commercial accounts.

Commercial or B2B accounts through suppliers such as Office Depot Business or Staples Advantage offer list-less pricing on the majority portion of items a company purchases, as well as rebates and bonuses based on volume commitments. Some items, like sticky notes or ball-point pens, may not be less expensive than the pricing offered through Staples’ or Office Depot’s consumer-facing websites, but the overall savings that can be achieved via commercial accounts shouldn’t be derailed to save more than 4€ on an office supply item.

Here’s how to keep your staff on track to achieve larger scale savings on office supplies.

1. Communicate the value of business account perks

While staff members may be able to find better “deals” on some office supplies, you need to effectively convey the larger-scale savings that can be achieved by adhering to business account contracts. Time and effort has been put into negotiating multi-year contracts so that substantial annual savings can be achieved on overall office supply purchases. Explain to employees how aspects of the business account, such as signing bonuses, rebates and other negotiated perks, all contribute to discounts.

2. Show your staff the savings

It can also help to show specific examples of savings achieved to encourage staff to adhere to business account purchasing programs. Sending a vendor history report to appropriate staff members shows both the achieved savings as well as areas where staff members are purchasing outside of the program. This can help drive compliance.

3. Shift your staff’s mindset towards value

In some organisations, especially smaller ones, staff members will price compare office supply items individually on Amazon or Staples.com to find the best pricing. While they may be applying a cost savings mindset to their procurement, it’s not the best use of their time.  They may also be doing more harm than good, without knowing the impact.  When staff have an understanding that a business account program can provide a total savings (including incentives, price surfing time, etc.) on office supply purchasing, you can focus your employees’ efforts on other value-adding tasks that move your organisation forward.  We have seen companies miss out on material incentives because a rogue buyer “saves money” on purchases. By taking the time to explain the larger value and cost benefits of purchasing office supplies through business account programs, your organisation can maintain a significant savings rate and your staff can dedicate their time to other valued initiatives.