the Costco way
Don’t get snowed in your
search for bargains
WHEN IT COMES to office products, you
might have grown comfortable shopping on
one of the big-box Web sites—Office Depot,
Staples and Office Max. But are you sure
you’re getting the best value?
Not all office-product Web sites are created equally. Costco’s National Business
Supplies Program is a little different, but that
difference offers better overall value on an
annual basis. Here’s why.
By Steve Fisher
Shipping is included in the cost of Costco
items except for delivery to Hawaii, Alaska
and Puerto Rico. Most orders are delivered
the next business day, if the order is placed
before 3 p.m., Pacific Time. In most parts of
the contiguous United States, orders are
shipped via UPS or LTL.
First, let’s look at how the competition
structures their pricing. Picture, if you will, a
snowman. Now imagine that, instead of snow,
each segment represents groups of office
products. “The head of the snowman represents the most popular top sellers on which
people generally compare pricing,” explains
Ginnie Roeglin, Costco’s senior vice president
of e-commerce and publishing. “They sell
these items below cost—loss leaders.”
The middle of the snowman represents
the next group of products, she continues,
where retailers make a reasonable margin.
The bottom of the snowman represents
everything else that a company purchases for
its office, and the big-box stores make a very
high margin on those items—sometimes as
high as 50 percent.
So how does Costco differ? No loss leaders
and more consistent, low pricing on all products equal better savings with your annual
overall purchasing. (See the chart below.)
Costco.com offers easy shopping. To get
started, go to Costco.com and click on
“Business Delivery.” Enter your zip code and
look for the items you need.
Online tools help make continued shopping even easier. “Shopping List” lets you
store all your regular purchases, and the ability to order with one click. “Order by item #”
lets you avoid searching the entire site and
simply order the supplies you need by item
number and desired quantity.
Now what about returns? All three previously mentioned “big boxes” give you 14 days
for technology returns. Office Depot and
Staples only accept returns on furniture within
14 days. Office Max won’t accept returns on
their Max Choice or assembled furniture.
Office Depot and Office Max give you 30 days
on office supplies.
Costco’s return policy is unbeaten, overall, by any of the competition. You have 90
days on electronics—unlimited on the rest of
your office purchases.
COSTCO BUSINESS CENTERS offer thousands of items not carried at regular
Costco warehouses or any other warehouse club. They are designed to meet
the needs of businesses with an emphasis on food service, convenience stores
Currently, business centers are
located in the greater Las Vegas, Los
Angeles, Phoenix, Puget Sound, San
Diego and San Francisco Bay metropolitan areas. All offer next-day delivery to
commercial locations. To find out if the
service is available in your area, visit
Costco.com, click on Business Delivery,
and enter your zip code. If you are in a
qualifying area, you will be prompted to
enter “Commercial” or “Residential.”
Only commercial addresses qualify.
Certain restrictions apply.
Go to Costco.com and click on
“Locations” to find the Business Center
“We think you’ll be helping your bottom
line,” Ginnie says, “if you review how much
you spend on office products over the course
of a year, and how much those same purchases would cost at Costco.com.”
So when you add it up—prices, ease-of-use and return policy—you’ll likely find that
Costco will save you the most time and
money. And that’s no snow job. C
Costco.com vs. the others
Costco regularly compares prices for all the items in our program
against comparable items at these retailers. The percentages shown
depict how much you can save by buying office supplies at Costco.