A Staples Solution to Business Purchases -- and Saving Even More Money
Dec 13, 2006
Did you know that Staples offers a special website and pricing for businesses? The prices for the most part are lower than those offered on the regular Staples website. Since I now purchase office supplies for my company, I have been using StaplesLink.com and have been saving money. Saving money makes me look good!
Do You Qualify as a StaplesLink Customer?
There are two plans: 1) Staples National Advantage (for national corporations), and Staples Business Advantage (for smaller businesses).
To qualify for Staples National Advantage, your company needs to be a national corporation with multiple locations across the country. Also, the company needs to spend over one million dollars a year on office supplies. If that doesnt fit your profile ...
Staples Business Advantage is for medium to large regionally based organizations that have 20 or more employees. The business also needs to spend $6,000 a year on office and technology supplies.
What are the Benefits?
* A choice of over 80,000 products
* Often lower prices than Staples.com
* Controlling how the office orders supplies
* Manage those you authorize to use the site
* Set up several shipping locations
* Have different locations order from one site and account
* Create lists of frequently ordered supplies
* Check delivery dates & Track orders
The site also offers the ability to add up to 20 different items to your shopping cart at the same time, which saves shopping time. There is also a search feature, quick order to select items by product number, and an ink and toner finder.
You can also view the customized shopping lists created. I created several of these lists by categories (ex: general office supplies, engineering supplies, shipping supplies, toner).
There is no fee to join StaplesLink.com. We were contacted by a Staples representative who set up our account for us. There is also an online form that can be filled out with basic information such as contact name, company name and address, phone number, email, and how many employees are in the company. (To find the form, go to www.stapleslink.com and click the button Become a Customer.)
Ill go into more detail later, but this website is similar in principle to Staples.com. However, the person who is in charge of maintaining access to the site, has the ability to authorize who can buy items. An added feature, is that authorized employees can buy from the site but the order is sent via email to someone within the company who okays the order before it is placed. You can not only authorize who uses the site and whether they need approval to submit an order, but also set spending limits.
Navigating the Site
When you log onto StaplesLink.com, you are greeted with a log-in page. You need to enter your Company ID, User ID and Password. The next screen offers choices of the location you wish the items to ship to. The administrator might also choose to add a message to this page.
The next page is where you can start to order items.
At the Top
There are several links: Home, Office Supplies, Technology, Furniture, Featured Items, Special Order. There is also a link for the Ink & Toner Finder as well as a Search Box. Links beneath the search box include: Administration, Office Management, Customer Service. There is also a Help link and Logout link.
A Tip about the Logout link ... always remember to logout. Otherwise, the next time you go to log onto the site, it will not admit you. There is a work around to this problem, though. Ive learned that if the first log-in fails, just repeat the log-in. The second time will let you enter the site.
To the Left
The first option at the top left of the page is the Quick Order box. Type in an item number, select the quantity and click ADD to add it to the cart. You can choose to enter several items, and there is also a link that shows the delivery date.
At the left is also where the customized shopping lists are found. From here you can select a list or create a new list. If you select a list and click GO, the screen changes. Here you can view all the items in the list. Ordering multiple items is easy. For each item in the list you wish to order, enter the quantity and click in the box to the right of the item. Then select the button Add to Order. Presto! Done.
At the bottom of the left section is a link to Special Offers. The special items have expiration dates for how long the pricing is available. The items are usually higher ticket items such as chairs or technology whether a label maker, shredder or computer mouse.
In the Middle
Here is where the various shopping categories are listed. The categories are Office Supplies, Technology and Furniture. Each category has subcategories beneath it. For instance, Office Supplies has subcategories like: Basic Office Supplies, Batteries, Envelopes, Labels. Here are a few choices from The Technology category: Calculators, Cash Registers, Computer Accessories, Copiers.
Underneath these lists is a certification notice that says, Staples Contract Division has been certified by J.D. Power and Associates for delivering An Outstanding Customer Service Experience for the third consecutive year.
To the Right
Here is where you can view the items in the shopping cart. The total number of items is listed with the dollar amount. You can click a button for a more detailed view of the cart contents. There are also sections for Order Management (My Order Status, Returns, Search for Orders) and Administration (Approve Orders, Edit My Profile, Account Maintenance).
At the Bottom
There are links along the bottom that duplicate the links in other areas of the Home Page. Listed is also a tollfree telephone number for technical assistance.
Lets Go Shopping!
Each item page includes at the top the path navigated to the item. For instance, from one of my customized lists, I clicked on Hanging File Folders. At the top of the page, the path reads: Office Supplies > File Folders & Expanding Files > Hanging File Folders > then the item name.
In red is listed the item name, and beneath it a photo of the item is displayed. To the right of the photo is a brief description of the item. Beneath that is neatly displayed information that provides the Staples Item Number, Customers Item Number, Manufacturers Item Number, Unit (ex: Box/25 folders), Your Price. There is a box where the quantity can be changed.
There are three links: Add to Order, Add to List, and Delivery Date. If you select Add to List, a window appears asking which list you wish to add the item to and what quantity (perhaps you always select to buy 3 boxes of file folders when placing an order).
Each item page offers a list of related products or accessories that might be of interest.
At any time, check the shopping carts contents or view the number of items ordered and the current dollar total.
I have also ordered custom self-inking stamps from StaplesLink.com. A form is provided to fill out and submit. We have been very happy with the quality of the stamps.
What the Prices are Like
As a rule, I find the prices on StaplesLink.com less expensive than making the same purchase from Staples.com. At the start of our company using StaplesLink.com, we provided a list of frequently purchased items to our account representative. The rep came back with great pricing. Recently, I submitted a list again to negotiate lower prices (I provided a list of what a competing office supply store was offering me). Some of the prices I was fortunate to have lowered, and other prices (such as Toner) stayed the same. And StaplesLink would not lower the price of the copy paper.
I find that general office supplies have a lower price on StaplesLink.com than at Staples.com. Ink and Toner are also at good prices. Copier paper is about the same on both sites (maybe 50-cents cheaper a case on StaplesLink). When I needed to buy new computer mice I found the prices on StaplesLink no better than Staples.com. At first I compared five different mice (and the prices were the same on both websites). I narrowed my choice to one style of Logitech mouse, which sold for about $40.00 each. I shopped the internet and found the mouse cheaper at another website. I telephoned my rep who gave me an additional $3.00 off each of the mice. Since my company wanted to purchase the mice through StaplesLink (because they will invoice us versus providing a credit card number), the lowered prices worked out well.
Your shopping needs will vary from ours, but here is a sample for price comparison:
Manilla File Folders box of 100 (Staples # 474347)
StaplesLink $3.79 / Staples.com $5.49
Avery White Laser Labels pkg of 2,000 (Staples # 209890)
StaplesLink $20.49 / Staples.com $24.99
Sanford Black Sharpie Markers box of 12 (Staples # 125328)
StaplesLink $5.99 / Staples.com $6.99
Bic Briteliner Highlighter box of 12 (Staples # 104869)
StaplesLink $5.35 / Staples.com $5.99
Paperclips, size #1 box of 100 (Staples # 525881)
StaplesLink 9-cents / Staples.com 49-cents
Tombow Correction Tape 1 each (Staples # 850448)
StaplesLink $2.79 / Staples.com $3.59
Perforated Writing Tablets pkg of 12 (Staples # 163865)
StaplesLink $2.59 / Staples.com $5.39
Canon Calculator LS-82Z 1 each (Staples # 440901)
StaplesLink $7.79 / Staples.com $9.95
HP Laser Toner Cartridge C3909A 1 each (Staples # 685990)
StaplesLink $166.99 / Staples.com $186.99
Brother Ink Cartridge LC21BK 1 each (Staples # 465263)
StaplesLink $18.99 / Staples.com $21.99
Once all my items are selected, I click the Submit button at the top right of the page. This allows me to view my entire order, as well as seeing the subtotal and any applicable handling fee. Orders over $50.00 ship free. If under $50.00, then a $5.00 handling fee is added. We consolidate our orders so that we never pay the handling charge. You can also modify the order if desired, deleting or adding items and changing quantities.
It is easy to print a list of the items you wish to order. When satisfied, click the Submit button. On this page verify the shipping and payment information. We always type a purchase order number in the box provided. You can also type in to whose attention the order is shipped as well as any special instructions.
We choose to have our orders invoiced to us. You can also pay via credit card: Visa, MasterCard, American Express. After the order is submitted, a page is displayed with the order number. In no time I also have an email in my inbox with the details of the order. Later an email will arrive when the items ship.
Note: We sometimes receive sale catalogs from Staples brick-and-mortar stores or Staples.com. These special offers cannot be used on StaplesLink.com.
Delivery & Returns
StaplesLink.com is true to their delivery dates. Usually items arrive the next day. Sometimes I order special items (which cannot be returned), and they take about a week to arrive ... though often they arrive a day ahead of schedule. I have never had anything arrive damaged.
Returns of general office supplies can be made within 30 days. We bought an expensive binding machine, and I phoned customer service and asked how long we had to evaluate the machine in case we wished to return it. They said we had 30 days. Note that furniture can only be returned if it is unassembled and in its original packaging. Unopened software can also be returned within 30 days.
Even though I use StaplesLink.com, I still comparison shop for the best prices. StaplesLink has proven a great source for value shopping. Our company has saved a lot of money using StaplesLink. And saving money makes this supply buyer look good in the office.
I hope you have found this review useful.
Enjoy the day,
Please read my other reviews:
Staples.com Online Store
BestBuy Online Store
Buy.com Online Store
Circuit City.com Online Store
BJs Wholesale Club
Copyright 2006 Dawn L. Stewart