Key Considerations When Purchasing Supplies

Whether you purchase original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or third-party supplies, it’s important to evaluate the quality of your supplier. You want to be sure you’ve chosen a reputable vendor that is honest about the type of product you are purchasing as well as its legality.

This insight piece will discuss the most popular outlets for purchasing toner and ink for business printing. It will also outline important factors to consider when purchasing from these sources.

Retail store top supply purchasing source

Keypoint Intelligence/InfoTrends research shows that businesses are most likely to purchase their toner and ink from a brick and mortar store. When it comes to laser printers, for example, about 40% of North American businesses purchase toner from a store (either by picking it up or having it delivered). Nevertheless, a fair amount of organizations seek out supplies from a contract stationer, office equipment dealer, or equipment manufacturer.

Figure 1: Where do you primarily purchase the toner for the laser printers in your office?

Keypoint Intelligence/InfoTrends primary research

Source: Keypoint Intelligence/InfoTrends primary research

Consideration #1: How reputable is the outlet?

Chances are if you are purchasing a product from a brick and mortar store, the outlet is fairly reputable. Having a physical presence means it’s difficult to get away with unsavory practices such as selling counterfeit or patent-violating ink and toner. Contract stationers, office equipment dealers, and equipment manufacturers also tend to fall into this category. Of course, word-of-mouth recommendations and customer reviews can help you determine whether a specific outlet is worth using.

Consideration #2:  How accessible is the outlet?

If you have any questions about supplies use or purchasing, how responsive is the vendor? Is there a clear way to contact the outlet for a prompt response, or is getting an answer a challenge? Depending on the vendor, some Internet retailers may make it difficult for customers to ask questions about a product or make inquiries regarding a defective cartridge. A vendor with a physical store or office may be easier to work with.

Consideration #3: Where is the vendor located?

It may be wise to choose an outlet based in your country (or even better, your city or state). An out of-country vendor may not be familiar with local laws around print supplies, or care to abide by them. Different countries have different laws around intellectual property like patents, copyrights, and trademarks. A domestic outlet is more likely to ensure its supplies are in violation of these laws.

Consideration #4: How eco-conscious is the outlet?

Some vendors make it a point to follow environmentally friendly practices. This may mean selling remanufactured cartridges, collecting used cartridges for recycling, and purchasing from eco-conscious suppliers. If “green” behavior is important to your organization, ask the vendor about its practices in this area. If you also purchase printers and multifunction printers (MFPs) from this outlet, you can inquire about any environmental benefits of these products.

Consideration #5: How much are supplies being sold for?

Organizations obviously want to find an affordable source of toner and ink, especially if they rely heavily on printing. But pricing that’s too low can be a warning sign that the product quality and reliability is low. Certain outlets on the Internet, for example, may sell supplies that are a small fraction of the cost of original equipment manufacturer cartridges. But they may deliver poor print quality as well as cause damage to the printer of MFP.

3 takeaways

  • In North America, the most popular source for purchasing office printing supplies is a retail store, followed by contract stationer and office equipment dealer.
  • When choosing a supplies vendor, organizations are encouraged to consider the reputation, accessibility, and location of the outlet.
  • Other considerations when selecting a vendor include its practices around the environment as well as the price of the supplies.


Contact Copiers Northwest today for more information from one of our knowledgeable representative!

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