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Top Ten Things to Look For When Buying Office Equipment Online

Every business regardless of its size when it was formed, requires office equipment. The range of the equipment increases as the business grows to cater for new roles and the demand to add efficiency to the day to day operations of the business. Of course, some of the equipment may vary depending on the nature of the business but the core office equipment remains similar across all businesses.

Three challenges usually exist for entrepreneurs whenever they are looking to get office equipment for their businesses. The first challenge is identifying quality equipment in a market flooded with so many products. The second challenge is finding a reliable provider of the equipment who can be depended upon to deliver the identified equipment, and offer all expected support and service. 

The final challenge is finding affordable but quality equipment. Making a wrong decision on any one of these three challenges will cost you a lot of money in losses coming from your lost investment. You will also suffer from the negative impact of the decision on business operations. In this guide, I will provide you with ways for overcoming all the three challenges by using a checklist at each stage.

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1. What to look for in office equipment

It is surprising how many businesses hardly do a proper assessment of the kind of equipment they need. Instead, they simply order equipment in a generalized manner. This usually leaves it to the supplier to decide what the best models to provide to the business are. When a few try shopping for specific items using specifications the business may need, the focus is usually on huge brands, or those widely marketed.

This is a wrong approach you should avoid because you can easily end up paying expensively on an item that is hardly the best in the market or even missing a similar item at a cheaper price. Below are the eight important factors to consider when looking for office equipment.

a.   The need of the equipment

Every equipment you get has to be justified by a real need even if you are buying for the future. Having equipment that you are not going to use frequently is one of the ways you will harm your cash flow. Even when purchasing the equipment, the attributes have to meet the volume of work the machine will be expected to do.

For example, getting a laser jet printer when you are only printing about three documents a day or even less is being wasteful. You also have to weigh the cost of getting a particular piece of equipment against the cost of simply outsourcing the work when the need arises.

b.    Cost of the equipment

You have to consider the cost of the equipment and the budget you have. Do not focus on the purchasing price alone but consider other aspects such as the cost of operation and maintenance. Some equipment could have high upfront costs but result in long-term savings because of the inbuilt efficiency.

Another aspect of the cost you should consider is the number of functions one piece of equipment offers. It is better to always pick equipment that offers a wider range of utility to save you from purchasing more equipment.

Considering the cost also allows you to weigh the different options in the market of similar equipment to alternative avenues you can still acquire the equipment. This is discussed later in the article.

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c.    Durability

This is an important aspect to consider in an equipment because it allows you to invest in the future. You have to look at the standards used to build the equipment and the reviews it has from past users. You should also look at the value and length of the warranty that accompanies the piece of equipment.

You should also be wary of counterfeit products which can easily fool you and lead to a loss of investment. This is why it becomes important to shop from reputable suppliers and sources.

d.    Ease of use

It will not be worth spending so much on an equipment that requires specialized training to operate and you do not have an employee with such skills. Besides specialized training, every piece of equipment should come with a user-friendly functionality to be able to impact the output of your employees.

Even where little training is required, it should be easy to grasp how to use it in case the equipment is for general use in the office. The manual should be comprehensive and where needed, the installation process should be fast and simple.

e.    Portability

Portability is an important issue to consider unless it is hindered by the nature of the equipment’s function. Even then, the equipment has to have an option of easy movement and should not take up much space especially in the case of small business premises.

Technology allows for smaller units which are as powerful as their larger counterparts of the previous era. You have to measure the space available for equipment and its size including an allowance for space to accommodate the people using it.

f.    Maintenance and availability of parts

Even the most durable equipment needs regular maintenance. It is very important that you buy equipment that is easy to maintain without risk of damage or need of a specialized technician. The manual should specify the maintenance schedule and what the maintenance entails.

In the event of damage or malfunction, you do not want to be stuck with equipment that cannot be repaired. You also have to inquire about the availability and cost of spares to see if the equipment will serve your long-term plans. At times the cost of spare parts is so high it makes more sense to buy new equipment.

g.    Technology used

In your shopping for office equipment, it is important to consider equipment coming with the latest technology. This does not necessarily mean going for the top end equipment but rather, working with what is the current standard technology. 

Even though older generation models may still work as good and come at a cheaper cost, they have a higher risk of becoming obsolete, lacking manufacturer’s support and also lacking the ability of integration with other equipment and software.

This is why it is important to ensure the equipment you use will not be rendered useless by a simple upgrade whether in software changes or new hardware designs.

h.    Quality of the Equipment

This is the crucial aspect because it largely determines whether you get the value for your money or not. The first aspect you have to consider is the performance offered. You also have to look at other factors like its ergonomics, energy consumption and inbuilt safety factors.

To help you with deciding on whether the quality of the equipment is great for you, ask yourself these questions; does the equipment meet your production or operation needs with the expected efficiency? How does the equipment rate against other equipment in the market belonging to its class? What is it about the equipment that serves you better than competing models?

2. What to look for in an office provider

To a large extent, the price and quality of the equipment you buy are largely dependent on where you get it or who your provider is. For most businesses, it makes sense shopping from one outlet since they get to enjoy the convenience and discounts that come with dealing with one office equipment provider.

Finding the right provider has to be done carefully since when you get it right you earn your business a crucial partner for the long term. To achieve this, here are a few tips to work with;

a.    Experience in the business

You want to work with a provider who has enough years in the business. Such an equipment provider has had time to streamline operations and service. Experience also gives a provider a better idea of what clients want, the best equipment for their needs and makes the whole process easier since you are dealing with an expert and informed provider.

b.    Variety of products

This is important because some providers choose to specialize in only one kind of equipment. If that is the only equipment you are looking for then you can consider them.

However, for small businesses still looking to expand and acquire more equipment, it is a better alternative to go for office equipment providers with a wide variety of products. In both cases, you also have to consider the range of models of each product. This gives you a wide field of choice and a chance to find the right fit equipment for you.

c.    Customer care and support

The best provider is the one who responds to your issues from the first instance you make an inquiry regarding different equipment. You have to consider the time they take to give responses, their understanding of the equipment they sell and how they function, and the quality of their service among other things.

You also have to consider if the company provides support for their equipment. This includes a live demo of the equipment use and further assistance regarding installation and maintenance.

d.    Reputation in the business

The reputation of a business covers much of their other aspects. Check out their ratings in different communities and see how the company responds to complaints and accusations. The best companies are easily given referrals. Do not just rely on the information provided on their testimonials but check the different social media pages of a company to see how they communicate with clients.

e.    Reliability

You want an equipment provider that is able to keep their word on deliveries even on short notice. Look at their abilities to deliver their service as they promise you and ask about their strategies to ensure the equipment is original and is safely delivered to your premises.

The best measure of their reliability is their plan to mitigate anytime they inconvenience you. Are they willing to shoulder the cost of any loss incurred?

f.    Pricing

As already highlighted earlier, while the upfront cost of equipment is important to determine your decision, you also have to consider several other aspects such as the discounts a company may be offering, service contracts after the warranties are up and other factors which may influence the long-term cost of the equipment.

g.    Warranties

You have to work with an equipment provider who gives warranties for all the equipment being sold. The supplier should also have a reputation for honoring the warranties with minimum fuss. As earlier mentioned, check on the duration of the warranty as it is the easiest way to tell the provider’s confidence in the quality of equipment being sold.

3. Getting equipment on the budget

If you are looking for office equipment but you are working on a budget there are several ways you can get them. You should, however, be prepared to do much of the shopping on your own and working with different providers. Here are steps to follow;

a.    Do your research

Looking for bargain deals will require you to do a lot of searching both among the different outlets and also the various brands of equipment you are looking for. Compare the prices and added benefits, read the reviews and see where you can get a money saving deal. The big outlets are a good place to start with and you can also ask around from other businesses for referrals.

b.    Clearance sales

Clearance sales present an opportunity to grab yourself quality equipment at great prices. Major outlets usually have this periodically especially towards the end of the year where they move out equipment that is not selling at cut prices. It is an opportunity for you to make major savings without compromising on quality. This will, however, require a lot of research work and patience.

c.    Ask for Discounts

Whether you are buying online or in a physical store, do not hesitate to request for discounts. Many stores are willing to negotiate a favorable price for both parties especially if you are purchasing in bulk. Be frank with your budget and your needs and you will be surprised how much you can save because aside from discounts, they can show you alternative but equally quality products you can acquire on a budget.

d.    Purchase your equipment online

Online stores do not have a lot of overhead costs in their operations. Secondly, most easily order their equipment straight from the manufacturer sparing you the costs of the middleman. They also have a large inventory of goods which needs to be moving. The increase in competing online stores, makes them offer huge discounts and several other benefits to be attractive to potential clients like you.

e.    Consider second-hand options

Second-hand equipment can still serve the purpose you want and it comes at a fraction of the price of brand new equipment. However, the thing you would be missing is a longer lifespan of the equipment and a shorter warranty or in some cases none.

Office equipment plays an important role when it comes to increasing your productivity and allowing for smooth and fast operations. However, when their purchase is not done diligently with a clear plan, it is very easy for you to run into losses and incur further expenses.

You need to know how to identify the right equipment as well as the right equipment provider. These tips will help you avoid common mistakes buyers make when buying office equipment. Next we will cover:

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