If you’ve been trying to find Cheap School Supplies or discount stationery in your town, then at this point 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 cover pens, paper, printer ink or biscuits – particularly when you’re ordering in big amounts. Whomever your supplier is, you’re very likely to achieve massive savings over high-street prices.

On the other hand, you can still end up paying 2-3 times on the odds. A discount promotion or buy-one-get-one-free offer is a warning signal, and almost certainly forms part of a pricing strategy that can view you paying more for stationery and office supplies.

If you’re an economic director or office administrator, you could be clued in to the big secret – but throughout us, here’s usually the one secret that’s going to wipe off as much as half your office supplies expenses in a single swift movement:

Stop searching for discounted office supplies

It’s not just a call to arms over quality control – for some situations, it might even be appropriate to choose the cost option as opposed to the high-end one. Nor is it about wastage and logistical planning, although proper cost analysis is an important component of controlling your office budget. Rather, it’s an issue of Bayesian signalling; Gricean logic; and, ultimately, fundamental principles of pricing. Even though there are complicated concepts at the office, it comes down to simple human nature.

We’re hard-wired to go right after the option with the big shiny ‘discount’ sticker on the front – even though it’s more costly. It’s a bizarre little quirk of the brain, and something that’s challenging to turn off – as US retailer JC Penney discovered with their ongoing regret.

In 2012, the supermarket giant announced they were putting an end 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 providing them with an arbitrary discount. Sometimes, a 50% discount was really a 10% increase on the recommended retail price.

The incoming CEO Ron Johnson announced a shift to an alternative, ‘honest’ system of pricing without any 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 to less expensive costs, but to aid consumers make informed decisions regarding their groceries and budgets. The truth that Honourable Ron became Jobless Johnson within less than a year probably lets you know how successful that strategy worked.

Customers abandoned JC Penney in hordes, some with a sense of anger over the things they perceived as a betrayal; revenue and share price went into freefall; as well as the company quickly returned for their previous technique of artificial markdowns. When offered the same products having a lower pricetag, customers still preferred to pay the larger price – as long as it enjoyed a discount sticker into it.

In fact, JC Penney customers were so offended from the disastrous strategy that brand loyalty not only went down, with perceived trustworthiness falling as prices decreased; but stayed down too. The sgzvks actually issued an apology to jilted shoppers, nevertheless the subscriber base stayed away until prices were raised – sometimes more than they originally were. A niche commentator had this to express:

“The bargain-hunting website dealnews has since commenced tracking prices at JC Penney. What it has discovered would be that the prices of certain items-designer furniture, particularly-have risen by 60% or more at JC Penney almost overnight. One week, a side table was listed at $150; several days later, the “everyday” price for the very same item was as much as $245.”

Discount pricing strategies are pretty much par for that course on the high street – and, because the BBC uncovered, many of them are as arbitrary and misleading as JC Penney’s. And, typically, they create sense from the B2C perspective. The Chartered Institute of Marketing claims that attention spans are restricted to 8 seconds, rather than the 12 seconds that they were during the early 2000s.

We live in the details age: a arena of multitasking; 140 characters; ‘top 10 everything’; truncation and enumeration and fast food; where consumers have to make decisions quickly based on limited information. Discounting is surely an immediate recognisable signal that the wise purchasing decision is being made, (whether true or otherwise not).

For someone involved in B2B procurement, however, discount pricing should be public enemy primary. Unfortunately, every workplace from the local chip shop to the condition of New York City has at the same time or some other fallen victim for the same ruses that function in the supermarket.

Promotional pricing strategies in the office. It’s often said disparagingly of politicians they don’t know the buying price of a pint of milk, (or with regards to the mayor of the latest York, the cost of a pen and paper). In most honesty, however, none people do.

Milk, bread, as well as other staples are generally far less than they ought to be – for numerous reasons:

They might be used as a loss leader, to draw in customers who’ll then pay more for other things.

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

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

They might be used to build trust or complacency in the shopper, that will often judge all the prices of any retailer based on the first or most frequent items which they buy from them.

They might use tricks of human perception – such as charm pricing (like.9 or.7); pricing under benchmarks (like £1, £5, £10 and so forth); as well as just including information seems relevant but isn’t. Something which is advertised as “Only £1.99 whenever you buy 2!” may seem like a discount, however, if the single unit costs £0.99 then it’s actually higher priced.

All 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 yourself with just a few minutes of searching – or checking your latest receipt.

In day-to-day life there’s not a whole lot we are able to do about this sort of obfuscation. Only a few individuals have enough time, resources or inclination to analyze and compare grocery prices with an item-by-item level – as well as the opportunity costs of rushing from supermarket to supermarket in the search for the cheapest potatoes by gross weight in fact probably outweigh the advantages. That’s why JC Penney’s customers are slowly returning since the prices are rising.

An organization facing similar purchasing options, however, has the benefit of a monetary director to protect its decision-making process.

There’s still scope, even or perhaps specifically in age of information, to possess someone on staff who are able to perform considered, researched procurement. Someone who can spend some time to do a proper cost analysis; engage in slow thinking; and are available to some conclusion based upon facts rather than on sound and fury.

While honesty didn’t exercise very well for Ron Johnson, we at CP Office still feel that it’s both worthwhile and worth a shot. So, unlike various other stationers and vendors of Buying In Bulk, we prefer to provide an impartial cost analysis to our potential prospects, along with the benefit from our genuinely competitive prices. With CP Office, there’s no fuss with no tricks – just an honest discussion about what’s best for you along with your office.