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Business on a budget: how to save hard cash on hardware

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Andy Yates, entrepreneur and director of Huddlebuy.co.uk, the daily deals site for entrepreneurs, gives Real Business readers regular top money saving tips to help business owners save thousands of pounds. This week: The easy way to make hardware savings.

It can be a hard job searching for hardware bargains. But you don’t need to be a technical wizard to conjure up some savings. Below are some money saving top tips to take a ‘byte’ out of your bill for anything from computers and laptops to printers and scanners.

Tip 1: Shop till you drop

There are some great bargains out there if you are prepared to seek them out. Here are some top shopping tips:

– Check for regular sales on key online suppliers such as Maplin, PC World, Staples and Dixons.

– Search out clearance items and sales on specialists sites such as Dell, Misco, ITC Sales and Euro PC.

– There are plenty of other online suppliers as well as the big boys like Amazon. Try MoreComputers.com, CCLonline.com and Novatech.co.uk.

– Then there is eBay, a whole shopping world all on its own. Highly-rated sites include Buy United Kingdom, Ebuyer Express, Oyy UK, 3 Monkeys and The Telecom Shop.

Tip 2: Stay alert

Sign up to email alerts so you don’t miss out on bargains. Huddlebuy.co.uk provides a daily email with discounts for small businesses. HotUKDeals provides deals submitted by its members.

Tip 3: As good as new

Refurbished goods can be a great way to save money, and the more expensive the bit of kit you are looking for the more you could save.

In theory refurbished good are as good as new. Normally they were opened and used but proved defective and were sent back and subsequently fixed. In practice you need to check a few things:

– Find out if anything is missing and if it is can it be quickly and easily replaced; eg are a user manual or installation instructions available online from the manufacturer.

– Make sure you are comfortable with any warranties and guarantees.

– If you are buying online check out the supplier – and make sure they are highly rated with a good number of positive customer comments and ratings.

– Check the manufacturer has endorsed the refurbishment. Manufacturers have a reputation to maintain and should want to make sure the refurbished product works.

The Dell Outlet has some good refurbished deals. Currys has a refurbished laptop section with laptops starting at £249 as I write. The Laptop Centre has a range of refurbished Macs.

Tip 4: Extra, extra – read all about it

Don’t get bamboozled by those added extras canny suppliers will try and sell you. Decide what you really need. Do you need a webcam for Skype sessions or in reality are you going to pick up the phone? How often are you really going to connect your phone to your laptop with Bluetooth? Does that anti glare screen really make a difference to you or your employees?

Many suppliers, including the likes Dell, now allow you more freedom to customise computers so you have more flexibility to get what you really want and need.

And don’t get me started on software. These days there are plenty of online software as a service solutions that can save businesses thousands of pounds a year. So take your time and don’t fall for the hard sell on software and the confusing bundles that will be bundled your way.

Accessories can also cost a pretty penny so shop around to see if you are being quoted a fair price.

Tip 5: The older the better

When the new, fashionable and highly in demand model of a product is released, prices for older versions can drop considerably. If you don’t need the fancy new functionality then the old ones can be the best.

Tip 6: Old school

Be prepared to do it the old fashioned way and check out local stores. Many offer collection only offers, and larger chains such as Asda, Tesco, Currys and Ryman often promote in-store offers or good deals if you reserve and collect.

Tip 7: Wait just a second

When we looked at money saving tips for office furniture and equipment we pinpointed some really useful sites that can also be used to find some hardware bargains. Gumtree, Craigslist and Freecycle are all worth a look if you drill down to your local area.

Who said hardware savings were so hard?

Next time: How to ensure you don’t get stuck with high insurance costs.

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