Volume discounts for bulk purchases benefit everyone involved, helping suppliers move inventory, enabling companies to cut costs and allowing savings to be passed on to consumers. The savings for businesses can be significant, with suppliers such as Lowe’s offering discounts for bulk quantities of as much as 50 percent. Buying in bulk makes economic sense for businesses, but doing it successfully requires following some best practices to avoid some common pitfalls. Here are five tips for getting the best deal when ordering custom parts in bulk.
Like any smart shopping strategy, smart bulk purchasing is based on carefully comparing prices. The best place to start researching prices is online. You can often find good volume discounts on Amazon, along with free shipping if you have Amazon Prime membership, advises American Express. Online directories such as SupplyChainBrain and SaleHoo can also help you find suppliers and compare prices. Don’t forget to check prices with local suppliers as well. You may also be able to get bulk discounts on certain types of supplies by joining a warehouse club. After you’ve done some preliminary research, request quotes from multiple suppliers so that you can do a fair comparison.
While you’re comparing prices, it’s also advisable to compare the cost of using different types of materials. One mistake companies sometimes make is choosing high-priced materials without considering the possibility that less expensive materials may also do the same job. For instance, as a long as a material is durable enough to perform its function, it doesn’t necessarily need to be the strongest material available. When considering different materials, ask your supplier if they have any recommendations. They may be aware of materials and options you haven’t considered. For instance, o-ring supplier Apple Rubber makes products out of a wide variety of materials such as Viton that have been developed for specialized applications, and has an online material selection guide to help clients choose the best option for their needs.
Consider Quality as Well as Price
While it’s good to seek the lowest available price and the least expensive materials, it’s also important to balance cost against the need for quality when comparing suppliers. Inexpensive doesn’t need to mean low quality, and when there’s a concern with quality, it may be worth it to spend a little more to meet the standards you want to deliver your customers. You should also consider prospective suppliers’ quality of service. How quickly do they respond to phone calls and emails? How reliable are they? Do they offer guarantees? Research prospective suppliers’ reputations and ask them questions in order to evaluate their quality of service before settling on a provider.
Bulk ordering a custom-made part with the wrong measurements can be an expensive waste of time and money. A mistake multiplied in bulk is a much bigger wasted expense than a mistake on a single-unit order. Avoid this problem by taking an extra effort to make precise measurements before requesting a quote or submitting an order. Use the most precise measuring tool available, preferring 1/100 of an inch to 1/10 of an inch, for example. Take multiple measurements to make sure you’ve made an accurate estimate.
Draw Up Exact Specs
Just as it’s important to draw up exact measurements before submitting a quote, it’s also advisable to draw up exact specs. Before spending money on a bulk purchase, you want to make sure your supplier is crystal-clear on what type of part you need. The best way to do this is to hire a rapid prototyping service, 3-D CAD modeling service, engineer or draftsman to create a detailed drawing of the parts you need. If you’re selecting a part from a catalog, verify that you’ve chosen the right part number.