United Stationers: Office supply spend across business size

Office supply spend per employee varies greatly by size of business


How much an office spends on its supplies varies across business size, with smaller offices typically spending more per employee than larger offices with 100 employees or more.

Most office managers are aware of the economies of scale that comes with centralized printing and supply access. But the same managers may be surprised at the total purchasing dollars, as some of the spend goes around office processes designed to control office consumable purchases for a specific supplier through negotiated agreements.

Smaller offices with 1-4 employees spend as much as $1844 per employee, including products such as office supplies, computer consumables, tech equipment, furniture, janitorial and break-room products. A medium-sized 40 person office spends about $800 less ($1069 per employee), and offices with over 200 people spend the least at $639 per employee. About 50-60% of office spend is on traditional supplies and computer consumables. Another 25% is on tech equipment. The remaining spend is divided between furniture and janitorial/break-room supplies.

The Empowered User trend, which involves employees making their own purchasing decisions, has impacted not the amount the office spends, but how the purchasing process works. United Stationers’ “Emergence of the Empowered User” describes this trend: employees are emerging as the new purchasing force, with 61% of them feeling “empowered” to make purchases for their own. Mobile and work-from-home trends directly contribute to the growth of the empowered user dynamic, as does the convenience of widely-available products.

Knowing average spend numbers is helpful in managing spend across the office, as well as estimating what percentage of the spend is bypassing normal processes through mobile workers, work-from-home and convenience spend by empowered individuals.

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