As well as stocking a wide range of office products, you may also decide to offer different services. These may include:
- refilling printer cartridges
- delivery. You may make a charge for this or offer it free, for example to long-standing customers or for orders over a certain amount. You may decide to offer a same-day delivery service, although it's important to carefully consider the financial implications before offering such a service
- catalogue sales. Offering catalogue sales is an effective way of providing a wide product range without having too much money tied up in stock or having to have a large outlet
- online sales
- van sales of popular stationery items to small businesses like retail outlets and hairdressing salons
- account facilities
- bespoke office design and fitting service
- personalised business gifts such as pens and key rings
The right image
It is important that your outlet projects the right image. Make sure that your window displays are changed regularly, that your shop is as tidy as possible and that all the services you offer and any special promotions are clearly advertised. It is also important that any staff you employ are well turned out, helpful and polite. Make sure staff are available to answer customers' queries about your products.
If you offer online sales it is important that your website is well designed and operates efficiently.
Advertising your outlet
Whatever the nature of your outlet, it's essential to make sure that your potential customers know about you and the products and services you offer.
There are a number of things you can do to promote your business:
- contact potential customers. You may find that 'cold calling' potential customers with details of the products that you sell and services that you offer will be an effective method of securing sales. Once you have established a relationship with a customer, keeping in regular contact with them will help to retain them
- advertise in your local newspaper and any local directories
- organise or sponsor a local business event
- launch your own website, showing all the goods and services that your business offers and possibly also offering online sales. Don't overlook the cost of investing in search engine services and, possibly, online advertising
- have leaflets printed and distribute them to local businesses or as inserts in a local paper
- offer discounts and loyalty rewards
- use online social media to let people know about special offers and promotions