3 Tips When Buying Bulk Parts for Your Business

Buying in bulk can be a great cost-saving strategy for your business. For instance, Amazon Business ran a Back to Business sale last winter offering large discounts on items such as office supplies, with some items offered for as much as 68 percent off. Large discounts like this are available throughout the year on all types of business supplies, including custom parts, from a wide number of suppliers and retailers.

But while bulk buying can be an effectively savings strategy, it can also cost you money if you get stuck with a bad supplier, if you order the wrong part or if you make a large purchase of parts that are the wrong size. Here are three tips to avoiding costly mistakes when buying custom parts in bulk.

Select Suppliers Carefully

Comparative shopping is a key to successful bulk buying. Getting locked into a bulk buying contract with the wrong supplier can be a costly headache, sticking you with inferior products and poor service at your expense.

To avoid this undesirable scenario, do due diligence researching suppliers. Use online research, input from industry peers and research into competitors’ suppliers to find out which companies are reliable. When considering suppliers, consider product quality and customer service and not just price. You can tell a lot about a supplier from the quality of their customer service over the phone or online. For instance, if you’re looking for silicone o-rings, Apple Rubber provides you with online guides to help you select the right materials for your needs, as well as the ability to request a customized quote within 24 hours, illustrating their commitment to customer service.

Compare Multiple Material and Design Options

Another key to saving money when buying in bulk is making sure you’re going with the most cost-efficient material and design available for your intended application before placing a bulk order. In many cases, going with an alternative material or tweaking a product’s design can translate into significant savings.

For instance, steel is generally less expensive than aluminum, so if your product doesn’t require any of the advantages of aluminum, such as rust resistance, steel may be a more cost-efficient option. Similarly, aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin recently found that 3-D-printed titanium is less expensive than aluminum for certain parts on the F-22 Raptor. A knowledgeable supplier familiar with the latest innovations can often help you select a more cost-efficient option.

Test a Prototype Before Placing a Bulk Order

Another costly mistake when buying in bulk is placing an order and then finding out that the part you just bought 10,000 units of doesn’t work or doesn’t fit. The best way to avoid this is to order and test a prototype before placing a bulk order.

When building and testing a prototype, precise measurements are critical for ensuring that a part fits properly. Use the most precise unit of measurement available to you, preferring thousandths of an inch to tenths of an inch, for example. Additionally, make sure you communicate your specs clearly to your supplier so that there is no confusion about exactly what you need.

Update Your Bulk-Buying Strategy

Bulk buying can save you big money, provided you take the time to avoid expensive mistakes. Doing due diligence in researching suppliers will help keep you from getting locked into a bad supplier relationship. Comparing multiple materials and designs will help ensure that you’re pursuing your least expensive option. Testing a prototype with the correct specs will help you avoid wasting money on parts that don’t work or fit. Following these tips will help ensure that your bulk buying strategy is a cost-cutting success.