What's the first thing you think of when you think of shopping? Is it done at home from your couch on your laptop or phone, or do you prefer an in-person experience? Do you like to stop at a half-dozen places, or get everything done in one spot and go home? It might seem like stocking up the office is a different experience than shopping for yourself, but you'd be surprised at how your personal shopping style can cross over into the things you need to keep your business in the black. This series takes a look at how your personal preferences can help you become a supply superstar at the office. First up, the shopper with the all-access pass: the master of the membership.
This shopper knows the value of exclusivity, whether it's walking into a club store to stock up at home or getting the bonus benefits of an online membership. It's the shopping version of walking up to the bouncer and getting the "nod" to go on in while everyone else mills around outside, and the best part is, the right membership can save you time, money and hassle. But how does that work for your business? Using a personal membership is great in your day-to-day life, but it isn't built for business and doesn't give you the benefits you need and want for the office.
Depending on the size of your business (and the size of your business supply needs), there are memberships that let you hop the velvet rope and red tape to get an exclusive shopping experience with benefits like customizable pricing on your most commonly purchased items, exclusive discounts on things like coffee and paper, and even access to third-party services at a discount you'd ordinarily only see for Fortune 100 mega-corporations. And unlike when you repurpose your personal membership for the office, you don't have to try to find room for six months' worth of paper towels, coffee cups or copy paper.
Once you've decided a membership might be the right direction for your business shopping needs, there are a few ways to select the right membership and then get the most out of being a member:
- When you're shopping around for a business membership, think about your current relationships. If you're already working with a trusted vendor who provides you with good service, they're a smart choice to offer you even more through a membership.
- Talk to your supplier/vendor about their reporting capabilities so you can keep track of how much you've saved and which features you use the most.
- Make sure your supplier provides you with a full and comprehensive list of everything you have available through your membership and keep it somewhere visible. After all, it might not be top of mind when you're booking a car or ordering flowers, but many memberships include affiliated third-party services at a discount for your business.
- Be proactive and plan around the benefits you're paying for. You might find opportunities to consolidate and save that you didn't immediately think of.
- Talk to your account manager! You might think you're getting every last penny of value from your membership, but odds are your expert account manager can spot extra opportunities from a mile away and help you take advantage of them.