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Managing Office Supply Inventory: Tips & Tricks

Grainger Editorial Staff

Office supplies cost money. Spending too much on items you need for your office–inks and toners, pens, pencils, paper, laminating supplies, tape−is a waste of money that could be spent investing in your company’s growth. Keeping your office inventory under control can not only loosen up your budget, but also ensure that you have all the supplies you need when you need them.

Limit Access

The first thing you should do when getting your office supply inventory under control is to limit the access to the supply closet. While open supply rooms may be a convenient option−allowing employees to retrieve supplies as they need them−it is an inefficient method when trying to keep the storeroom under control.

The first issue with an open supply closet is tracking. When anyone can take what items they need at any time, those managing the supplies lose the ability to know what is on hand at any given time. Some companies set out a log, on which employees can write down which items were taken and when. However, this method proves to be inefficient. Frequently employees are not properly trained on tracking office supplies, or neglect to enter what they take on the log due to being in a rush or just human forgetfulness.

Making one person (or a small team of people) responsible for dispensing office supplies allows your company to keep a much more accurate inventory. It also prevents shrinkage (stealing) and keeps employees from taking more than they actually need.

Have a Written Procedure

It may seem like a little thing, but having a written procedure for inventory management can make a big difference in controlling your supply stream. You know who is responsible for tracking office inventory and making sure the items you need are there when you need them. Employees in need of items know whom to contact when they need them. It specifies how the inventory gets tracked. Everyone is aware of the details of how the office supplies are managed.

Most of all, it sets the tone of expectation−that is, it shows that everyone is expected to follow the procedure as it is written. This can also help identify training issues and monitor adherence to policy.


Tracking your inventory is essential to inventory control. Tracking means keeping a log or spreadsheet of what you buy, how quickly it gets used, and how often more is ordered. There are several ways to track your inventory. You can do this manually, through a tracking software, or it can be outsourced to an inventory control vendor.


A method to help tracking is grouping like items together. For example, all the writing implements could be kept together, such as pens, pencils, markers, highlighters and all of the filing needs, such as Manila file folders and hanging folders. This makes your office supplies easier to find and track.

Not only does this help with tracking, but it also is the best system for organizing your storage space. This will help eliminate extra time spent looking for the right item. It will also make stocking easier and more accurate. A place for everything, and everything in its place.

Setting Reorder Point

How much paper do you use in a week? How many black pens do you have to replace in a month? Knowing how much you use of each item you keep stocked is what will tell you how much to keep on hand, and when it’s time to place an order.

A reorder point for office supplies is the same as it is for maintenance supplies, production supplies and product stock−it is the level of inventory that triggers you to order more. When deciding your reorder point, you should take into consideration how much you use of an item and how quickly. You should also account for delivery time and possible delays.

Once you know your reorder points, you may want to consider setting up an automated reorder process. Automated reordering can help take a lot of strain off of inventory management by ensuring that your office supply needs will always be met. You can expect timely deliveries and never have to worry if something was forgotten or neglected.

Inventory Management

The key to managing any inventory, including those in your office supply closet, is attention. If you pay attention to what you have, how much you use and how often you need more, you can create an office inventory method that works for you and saves you money. By limiting access and creating a written procedure for your inventory management, everyone can work together to make sure your inventory stays under control.


The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.


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