Dear Willamette Community Members,

This letter is intended to be a helpful resource for you as you begin your planning for the new year ahead. To continue our effort to provide you with resources about efficiencies, we offer this important information about the purchase of office supplies through Willamette approved vendors.

With the support and assistance of the business office staff, we have developed a system to analyze the purchase of all of the office supplies by Willamette University during a recent year. We created a sample using dollars spent and quantity purchased that allowed us to review how Willamette would save money buying in multiple quantities or which vendor offered us the lowest overall price per item. We evaluated which vendor represented the lowest total amount of Willamette money spent on this representative sample of items. This analysis informed us of patterns and trends, as well as departmental buying habits and frequency.

Next, we considered the operations and transactions that take place to provide office supplies to the University community. We sought to understand how much time would be expensed using local vendors to order an item, how quickly a department could receive an item, how cumbersome is processing a payment, return policies, and what breadth of items can a vendor provide to the University? Finally, we considered which vendors would honor our desire to not deliver items that conflict with our sustainability and efficiency initiatives.

The attached document shows the price comparison, and indicates that we found some differences in pricing that allow for savings. All three vendors are able to deliver on our operational and transaction needs. An overall pattern emerged, revealing that if you would follow the recommended course for the upcoming year, your department will spend less on office supplies, toner cartridges and general use items than just randomly making purchases in what may be a usual way or practice.

Useful tips for buying office supplies and saving money

  • Whenever possible, buy in bulk. If your department needs the item, buying in bulk is an easy way to save money. When ordering supplies, touch base with the others in your office area, floor, or building to see if they need any office supplies as well. This will not be a burden to the business office as long as you process the invoice with the business office right away. To do this, divide the transaction dollar amount to correspond with the correct account numbers for each department. Waiting to process the invoice will result in the default account number being charged and requiring a journal entry. This makes extra work for the Business Office at a cost of time and resources.
  • Please use the vendors who we have secured pricing and service expectation agreements with. Willamette works to secure the best possible pricing with vendors, some of whom are local. If you have a question about a particular item or vendor, please contact me for assistance.
  • Be cognizant of what you are buying. Ask yourself, "Do I really need to buy a box of a dozen pens for $13, or will the box for $8 get the job done?" Many have personal preferences for specific office supplies. Being prudent at the moment of ordering will likely result in the greatest overall departmental saving. I have information readily available if you are interested in seeing a report for how your departmental area spent money on office supplies, please contact me at <purchasing>.
  • Please recycle your old office supplies - ink fillers can be purchased for pens, lead can be purchased for mechanical pencils. Old binders can be used for storing documents that you may not need on a regular basis. We are working to develop a collection point for surplus office supplies that could be available to the community in the coming months.
  • Do not buy paper. The University has a contract with a paper provider that meets all of our sustainability goals. In our agreements with Office Depot and Cooke's the purchasing of white copy paper is not permitted.
  • Your Xerox machines can be used as a network printer, and the toner for those machines is built into the contract. If you must print using your "personal" desktop printer, consider using it only for documents that may be confidential or you need in the moment. Also, consider changing the setting of your desk top printer to print in Grayscale or use a setting that will allow your toner to last longer.
  • Don't buy things like candy or coffee or paper towels/plates/utensils from an office supplier vendor. University Purchasing has a Costco Card that can be checked out. Just contact me at to inquire about how to reserve the card.
  • Plan ahead - Departments don't always need weeks or days to "plan ahead." Depending on what it is needed, lead time of a work day can be enough advance notice to be able to save dollars when ordering office supplies.

Looking strictly at office supplies, without including toner, printer or paper purchases, the University can save tens of thousands of dollars by utilizing the agreements we have made with these office supply vendors. If you are interested in seeing more information on office supplies and printer toner, please let me know, I will be happy to show you the data we have compiled.

Thank you for your time in reading this, and don't hesitate to let me know if there are any questions.