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If you’ve been searching for cheap office supplies online or discount stationery in your area, then right now you’re probably feeling like you’ve stumbled onto the set of Carry On At The Circus. It’s difficult to get a read on what’s an appropriate price to pay for pens, paper, printer ink or biscuits – specifically when you’re ordering in large quantities. Whomever your supplier is, you’re likely to achieve massive savings over high-street prices.

On the other hand, you can still wind up paying two to three times on the odds. A discount promotion or buy-one-get-one-free offer is actually a warning signal, and almost certainly forms element of a pricing strategy which will see you paying more for stationery and office supplies.

If you’re an economic director or office administrator, you might already be clued in the big secret – but also for the rest people, here’s the one secret that’s planning to wipe off as much as half your office supplies expenses in a single swift movement:

Stop trying to find discounted office supplies – It’s not a call to arms over quality control – for some situations, it may even be appropriate to go for the budget option instead of the high-end one. Nor could it be about wastage and logistical planning, although proper cost analysis is an important element of managing your office budget. Rather, it’s a matter of Bayesian signalling; Gricean logic; and, ultimately, basics of pricing. Although there are complicated concepts at work, it boils down to simple human nature.

We’re hard-wired to travel after the option with the big shiny ‘discount’ sticker on the front – even when it’s higher priced. It’s a bizarre little quirk from the human brain, and one that’s hard to turn off – as US retailer JC Penney discovered for their ongoing regret.

Back in 2012, the supermarket giant announced that they were putting a conclusion with their promotional pricing strategy, which saw everyday staples in a permanent discount. Like most supermarkets, JC Penney was artificially inflating their shelf prices before offering them an arbitrary discount. At times, a 50% discount was really a 10% increase on the recommended retail price.

The incoming CEO Ron Johnson announced a shift to a new, ‘honest’ system of pricing without the fake discounts; two-for-one deals; coupons; prices ending in 9 or 7; or any other shifty tactics. The brand new system was intended not just in lower prices, but to assist consumers make informed decisions with regards to their groceries and budgets. The reality that Honourable Ron became Jobless Johnson within under a year probably lets you know how successful that strategy worked.

Customers abandoned JC Penney in hordes, some with a feeling of anger over the things they regarded as a betrayal; revenue and share price went into freefall; as well as the company quickly returned with their previous technique of artificial markdowns. When offered the same products with a lower pricetag, customers still preferred to cover the greater price – as long since it had a discount sticker into it.

In fact, JC Penney customers were so offended by the disastrous strategy that brand loyalty not merely went down, with perceived trustworthiness falling as prices decreased; but stayed down too. The company actually issued an apology to jilted shoppers, however the customer base stayed away until prices were raised – in some cases higher than they originally were. An industry commentator had this to state:

“The bargain-hunting website dealnews has since commenced tracking prices at JC Penney. What it really has discovered is the fact that prices of certain items-designer furniture, specifically-have risen by 60% or more at JC Penney almost overnight. 1 week, a side table was listed at $150; a few days later, the “everyday” price for the similar item was as much as $245.”

Discount pricing strategies are virtually par for the course on the high street – and, because the BBC uncovered, a lot of them are as arbitrary and misleading as JC Penney’s. And, in most cases, they make sense from the B2C perspective. The Chartered Institute of advertising claims that attention spans are limited to 8 seconds, as opposed to the 12 seconds that they were in the early 2000s.

We live within the information age: a world of multitasking; 140 characters; ‘top 10 everything’; truncation and enumeration and fast food; where consumers need to make decisions quickly based upon limited information. Discounting is an immediate recognisable signal which a wise purchasing decision will be made, (whether true or otherwise).

* For a person involved in B2B procurement, however, discount pricing should be public enemy number 1.

* Unfortunately, every workplace from your local chip shop to the state of New York has at one time or other fallen victim for the same ruses that operate in the supermarket.

* Promotional pricing strategies in the workplace

* It’s often said disparagingly of politicians that they don’t know the cost of a pint of milk, (or perhaps in the case in the mayor of the latest York, the buying price of a pen and paper).

In every honesty, however, none of us do. Milk, bread, as well as other staples are typically far cheaper than they should be – for any number of reasons:

They could be used as being a loss leader, to attract in customers who’ll then pay more for other considerations.

They may be inferior-quality versions used to undercut competitors.

They might be bundled with some other items as part of an up-sell; sandwich-drink-and-snack deals at lunchtime are a good example, but you can find invisible examples like coffee strainers and coffee (or printer and printers).

They may be used to build trust or complacency inside the shopper, who can often judge all of the prices of a retailer based on the first or most frequent things that they buy from them.

They might use secrets to human perception – like charm pricing (like.9 or.7); pricing under benchmarks (such as £1, £5, £10 etc); or even just including information seems relevant but isn’t. Something which is advertised as “Only £1.99 once you buy 2!” may look like a reduction, however, if the single unit costs £0.99 then it’s actually more expensive.

Each of the tricks outlined above, used for milk and bread, apply equally well to equivalent office basics like pens and paper. You can verify that for yourself with just a couple of minutes of searching – or checking your most recent receipt.

In day-to-day life there’s not a whole lot we can do about this kind of obfuscation. Not many people have the time, resources or inclination to investigate and compare grocery prices upon an item-by-item level – and the opportunity costs of rushing from supermarket to supermarket in the quest for the cheapest potatoes by gross weight in reality probably reeydf the rewards. That’s why JC Penney’s customers are slowly returning because the costs are rising.

A company facing similar purchasing options, however, has the main benefit of an economic director to guard its decision-making process.

There’s still scope, even or possibly especially in age of information, to have someone on staff who can perform considered, researched procurement. Somebody that can spend some time to conduct a proper cost analysis; engage in slow thinking; and are available to your conclusion based on facts rather than on sound and fury.

While honesty didn’t work out so well for Ron Johnson, we at CP Office still believe that it’s both worthwhile and worth a go. So, unlike many other stationers and vendors of office supplies, we would rather present an impartial cost analysis to the prospective customers, as well as the benefit from our genuinely huge discounts. With CP Office, there’s no fuss without any tricks – just a genuine discussion about what’s right for you along with your office.

Office Supplies Cheap – Consider This..

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