I came upon this real short article talking about how even the most novice of couponers can get started. It was basically a five step approach that laid out how anyone can get in the habit of coupon clipping and saving.  The process starts by planning and organizing based on upcoming sales and coupon sources then actually collecting the coupons.  They suggest looking for sales first then planning out what you need based on those sales and the stores they are available within.  Next step includes leveraging the sales and coupons to work in your favor and finally being flexible with your purchases, such as not necessarily always buying branded products.
This got me thinking, especially the last two steps that involved leveraging your resources and being flexible with your purchases.  The ideas are certainly not new and can be applied to any situation in which savings is achievable.  Let’s start though with a brief history on coupons, as far back as 1887, Coca Cola was the first company to use the now renowned marketing ploy to convince people that they are getting something for nothing. They began by offering coupons for a free product sample and this, hook-line-and-sinker, led to the spread of the product nationwide in record time.  The company was able to make up the loss of those “free” samples through future purchases of the product.  It was a genius move really. To this day suppliers all over the world are using this concept to draw in new consumers and retain a loyal base of repetitive purchasers.

Just as you experience this in your personal life, your business suppliers use similar methods to acquire new consumers and win business from their competition on a daily basis.  In other words suppliers will make concessions on one product or service in order to gain the account altogether or additional business from a current customer.  Take office supplies for example, a supplier can reduce the profit margin on commonly used products such as writing utensils, mailing supplies, and the like while making fewer concessions on products that they have less control over such as commodity driven paper and technology based products. As a customer it is important for you to plan ahead and organize what areas you want to save on. Then look for opportunities within those areas that have potential for savings by collecting resources either through by using a sourcing professional or doing a little internet research on your own. Match the opportunities with your savings goal and leverage your spend with incumbent and alternate suppliers to maximize the potential opportunities.  Finally be flexible in your buying and approach to savings, a self-branded pen is just as good as a name brand pen but will cost you much less.  Understand where you have flexibility and how to use it in your buying behavior.  Also be on the lookout for “coupons” from suppliers, this can come in the form of free shipping or value-add programs that can put implemented at no cost.  Your suppliers value your business as much as, if not more than you value their products and service and it is important for you to understand how to leverage that within reason as to not damage the relationship.
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Jennifer Ulrich

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