Brush Your Ideas

Your Guide to Start a Profitable Stationery Business

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September 24 2020

No matter how digital the world goes, stationery items would never be fully irreplaceable. From ancient times when people would write on leaves, rocks till present times when they use copy and pen instead, people have never left writing entirely. This simply indicates that there is a good scope in opening a stationery business.

So, let’s read on to know how to start a stationery business.

Business Plan

A business plan is a first and foremost step towards starting a new business. If you are looking to venture into stationery business, a well-thought-out business plan will help you streamline your operations, manage your finances, and enable you to offer the best products to your customers. 

A lot of schools, colleges, and educational institutions keep looking for a dealer who can fulfill their bulk stationery orders for pens, pencils, or chalks, or other stationery items at wholesale rates. You can always start your business as a B2C business first selling stationery items to individual customers and slowly move on to take bulk orders from schools and institutes, etc. This way, you can slowly grow into B2B business as well after having succeeded enough in B2C business. 

There are also a number of other considerations to make while creating a flexible yet effective business plan.

Range of Products to Offer - If all your products are readymade, customers may find several other competitors offering similar products as yours. Consequently, they may not engage with your store and offerings as much as expected. To engage your audience, you can try offering some unique products that are not just like any ‘run-of-the-mill’ stationery item like a pen, pencil, or register. Offering custom stationery items can help you appeal to a mass audience in a better way.

Infrastructure - The infrastructure you would need for your business would depend on the mode of your business. If you open an online stationery store, you may need to invest comparative less than in opening an offline store. You won’t need to pay the rent for a physical shop in a ‘high-traffic area’ to attract more customers. 

Tip: If you are entering the business of selling stationery for the very first time, and are not sure about your success rate; an online print store is a better choice. This is because you won’t need to ‘buy’ or ‘rent’ a physical location somewhere. And it will save you from an extra load of a huge upfront cost for buying or renting a physical store and ongoing expenses to maintain it later. 

Methods of Brand Awareness - No matter how best-in-class products or services you offer, they are of no avail unless the audience notices them. Therefore, focus on the ways you would adopt to broaden your outreach among the target audience.

Resources - Always keep in mind that you would need minimum human resources to help streamline your business. Even if you start a home-based business through an online stationery store, you would need a minimum of one or two persons besides you who can take care of orders, manage them, and help with other side-tasks.

Registration and Licenses 

Whether it is an online business or offline business, register your business with local authorities first. Besides that, you would always need a minimum of licenses and permits required for your business to avoid any legal issues later.  Establish a legal business entity - an LLC, a DBA, or a corporation based on your type of business.

Once you have registered your business, acquire all necessary licenses and permits required for your business. There are licenses including seller’s permit, employer identification number (EIN), business tax certificate, and several others that you may need for both online and offline businesses. 

In general, you may need more licenses and permits for an offline business. However, if you are not sure of all the licenses you need, it is best to contact your county clerk’s office or check the official site your state has designated for this purpose.

Research Your Competitors

Research Your Competitors

Whatever the industry be - there is always competition. There are always some seasoned brands in your industry that are highly popular and in-demand. Stationery business is no exception. For instance, Faber-Castell, Camlin, MontBlanc, etc. are some seasoned competitors in the stationery industry and are towards the top. 

If you want to compete with them, you must be ‘like’ them. But doesn’t imply that you must start emulating them in everything from products, site design to other strategies. It simply means that you should intensively research into their overall marketing approach - be in terms of products, quality or prices of products. This will help you decide on how much you can invest in your business to make it stand out. 

Note: Researching your competitors and copying your competitors are two different things. If you simply copy everything that your competitor has, there would be nothing unique about your store. However, analyzing your competitors will help you to assess where your business stands and what all efforts you would have to make to reach their level.

There is also another important point you must consider when researching and analyzing your competitors - especially the season ones. 

“Never burn a hole in your pocket to become popular like big players in just a few days.”

Keep patience and work for ever-lasting success. Don’t run after that ‘flash in the pan’ through imprudent expenses in the beginning. Rather, have some funds in reserve with you:

→ To be ready to tackle any emergency situation - like a natural or man-made calamity, recession, or anything else. 

→ To ensure to not end up running short of funds to support ongoing expenses. 

Always remember the saying - ROME WAS NOT BUILT IN A DAY! It takes time to build your ROME!!

Traditional vs. Custom

Traditional products may be your first choice - as offering them can be a little more budget-friendly. Well, you may be right on that but think again! In this ever-evolving digital world where technologies are getting more advanced with each passing day; do you really think people would simply eye on traditional products only? While traditional products still matter, times are changing now and people are looking for customization and personalization - in almost anything and everything. And you can’t afford to lag behind in providing that personalization to them. So, how should you go about it? Let’s jump in to understand.

Unlike in earlier times, offering personalized products is no more a tedious task. You no more need to list down your customers’ customization demands, fulfill them, get them checked and verified, and replace them in case they don’t fit customers’ requirements. 

Instead, simply integrate an online product design software into your estore and you are done!

Note: Of course, you need an online website or ecommerce store to begin with if you want to offer online customization. So make sure you choose a technology partner that can help you set up both the things and also can be trusted with all your technology requirements.

Customers can simply turn their creative ideas into reality by designing the products the way they want. They can even preview their designs and get a complete idea of how their final product would look like. Once they are convinced that their final product preview is exactly what they want, they can confirm the order.

This way, you won’t only be able to reduce your efforts and time but also mitigate the customers’ grievances. And the better part is that you would be able to engage customers better through customization.

Choose the Right Supply Partner

For a retail business, choosing the right supply partner is always an important step. If you don’t get an on-time supply of products, you may end up facing out-of-stock situations now and then. This can lead to complaints from your customers regarding late deliveries. Therefore, always collaborate with a supplier that is punctual and supplies products for your business on time. 

Inventory Management and Shipping Management

Inventory Management and Shipping Management

You can either manage your own in-house inventory or adopt a dropshipping solution. While you can always go for any of the methods you prefer, in-house inventory management is generally costlier - especially if you have budget restrictions. Furthermore, in-house inventory management may also require more effort, time, and resources. 

This is why you should consider a dropshipping solution as it would not only take care of your orders but also handle order returns and other delivery-related grievances.

As a result, you can save on a good amount of money with in-house inventory management.

Marketing and Promotion

Well-begun is half-done. Now that you are all set to sell your products to customers; put your best foot forward in promoting your products - and of course, your business. 

While there are ways like flyers, handouts, giveaways, news ads, discounts, endorsements, etc. that can help, a web presence can always complement all of them for even offline businesses. 

So, read on to know the strategies to promote your stationery business. 

On-Site Optimization

Your website represents your brand. If you can’t maintain your site properly, you won’t be able to appeal to a large audience. This is why you must always invest a good amount of time, effort, and resources in making your site user-friendly, interactive, and engaging. 

→ See to it that your site name, look and feel aligns with your brand.

→ Ensure that you always optimize your site content with high-ranking and relevant keywords.      

→ Make sure that your website is fully responsive to make it easy-to-access for users of all devices. 

→ Keep conducting a timely site audit to assess your site’s performance. Find out and resolve issues like broken links, poor resolution images on a device, etc. 

→ Don’t clutter your website pages with too much content or images. Keep pages appealing yet legible.

Remember - Your site is like your salesman. The more ‘articulate’ it is, the more it will appeal to customers. 

Off-Site Optimization

→ Build Links - Link-building has always been quite a valuable off-site optimization strategy for promotion. While creating links, don’t forget that you are building links not to drive simply more traffic but rather drive quality traffic.

→ Blog Commenting, Guest Posting, Forum Posting - All these off-site optimization strategies can go a long way towards increasing quality traffic. Only one thing you need to understand here is - Don’t spam and over-market your brand through numerous mentions and links that aren’t relevant.

Social Media Optimization

Social media presence of any brand today is a necessity. Choose one or more social media platforms that suit your brand and make a social marketing plan. Update your users about new product launches, offers and discounts, and more. This will help you broaden your outreach to include more audiences that notice your brand through social media and land on your site.

Search Engine Marketing

Paid advertising can pay off if you have a capital reserve to invest in that and a proper SMM plan. It can help become broadly visible to a larger audience in a comparatively shorter span of time.

Email Marketing

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a traditional yet great way to reach your target audience and enhance their overall customer journey. Engage leads through emails containing relevant content and surveys as per a particular stage in the sales funnel, and nurture them into customers, or even better - into repeat customers.

Display Advertising

If you want the audience searching for products or services similar to what your businesses offer, display advertising can also work well. You can run a display advertising campaign for your business and decide on which sites you want to run your visual ad on. 

To help you formulate a strong display advertising campaign and adjust your budget accordingly, you can always contact a seasoned digital marketing professional or a digital marketing company.

In a Nutshell

Stationery items are here to stay - probably forever. Hence, you can always start your own stationery business if you want, follow the ‘right’ ways, and make it a popular and high-grossing business for you.

All product and company names are trademarks™, registered®, or copyright© trademarks of their respective holders. The use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

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Sulabh Chauhan

With experience in content writing and a good command over Grammar, Sulabh Chauhan is always up for innovative writing. He also possesses good research skills that become the source of valuable content in his posts. With an inclination towards exploring the printing technology, he keeps searching for the latest trends and printing industry practices. He is such a big cinephile that hardly any Friday of his life passes without a movie in a cinema hall!