How to Start a Stationery Business – Profit Margin, Business Plan, and List of Items You Can Sell

Stationery shop is one of the favorite spots for children, students, and crafts enthusiasts. It is no surprise that no one leaves a stationery shop without buying at least one item; it may be a small item like a pen, book, or gift card, etc., So what makes a stationery shop a captivating one? Why these shops still strive even after the digital age? And what makes it a unique and profitable business?

If you are interested in starting a stationery business at your hometown or in search of creating a business plan for an existing stationery business then, this article is going to help you to a good extent.

So let’s find out what is a stationery business and how to start a stationery and create a business plan

Stationery Business

What is a Stationery Shop?

Before we learn how to start a stationery business, we must know what is a stationery shop. So, a stationery shop is a shop where you can purchase stationery items like pens, pencils, books, education materials, and art supplies as well as things like craft materials and gifting cards, etc., In some cases, a stationery shop can also be found selling novelty items

Why Stationery Shop is a Profitable Business with Low Investment and Decent ROI?

The uniqueness of the stationery business is, that it is a business that can be started with minimal investment, and doesn’t need high-end technical skills to learn. Plus, it is suited for all age groups and there is a continuous customer flow regardless of the season. The more important thing is, due to a high number of stationery manufacturers and suppliers, you have plenty of opportunities to bargain the products for a lot lower price or purchase bulk orders at a reasonable price

Not just that, when a stationery shop is located at a correct place with high visibility to public as well as near by schools or universities it is defiantly expected to make higher profits.

How to Start a Stationery Business – a Detailed Business Plan from Investment to Marketing

To start a stationery shop, a well-written business plan is essential to weigh the pros and cons before launching the business and planning ahead

Stationery Shop Business Plan

The first step of your business starts with drafting a business plan for stationery. It should be able to describe the following points.

  • Objective of your Business
  • How you are going to operate the business ( Sole proprietorship, Partnership, LLC or Private Limited etc.,)
  • What is your estimated capital
  • What is the Unique Selling Proposition of your business
  • Market research data
  • List of items that you are going to sell in your stationery shop
  • Details of inventory (physical or Digital)
  • Your competitor details
  • Estimated sales forecast details
  • Estimated expenditure details

Let us go through each of the above mentioned points

Objective of a Stationery Business Shop

This is the first thing that you need to think and decide before getting into the business. You should be confident in describing what type of business and how you are going to operate it.

Though we can simply say, I am going to start a stationery shop and start selling items it may not be an effective goal to be successful in this business. Instead, you can think like, “I want to run a stationery shop business that specializes in selling a broad range of stationery items and art supplies and is famous in a particular region. With an annual profit of 20 to 25 Lakhs”

Creating a sensable objective with a defined goal gives clarity to you so that you can make investment according to it.

Paper Work and Documents Required to Start a Stationery Store

In most cases, the majority of stationery shops start as a small business that operates as a sole proprietorship; However, if you really want to make it into a potential business; you need high capital which means you also have to invest in insurances and other business registration requirements

Here are some things you need to have if you want to start a mid–large stationery shop

  • Social Identity proof such as Aadhar card
  • Business registration documents
  • Business insurance as per the scale of your capital
  • Shops and establishment licenses
  • GST registration
  • Fire safety permission
  • Trade license
  • Rental agreement *if you are leasing a space

Investment Required to Start a Stationery Shop

A small stationery shop that sells books, magazines study material, and some art supplies can be started with a capital of 2 – 5 Lakhs. This will cover the rental lease, initial stock expenditure, and salary for one worker.

However, a mid to large size stationery shop that is located in a high-demand zone and has wide variety of collections of items not just confined to pens, pencils, and books may need a capital of 25 – 50 Lakhs.

The majority of the investment for large stationery shops goes for rental advance as the location costs more, At the same time, If you are buying bulk stationery from China or Other countries the minimum order can cost 10 – 15 Lakhs., so overall a large size wide variety stationery shop requires a capital of 1 crore in the initial phase

Current Market Scenario of a Stationery Shop

India along with several developing nations are making a great progress in globalization. Governments are also increasingly putting focus on the education system which is indirectly creating a demand for stationery items.

As per research data, the Indian stationery market is projected to grow 8.2% CAGR from 2023 to 2029. At the same time, it is also observed India has drastically reduced importing stationery items from countries like China; Instead improving its indigenous stationery manufacturers.

Moreover, there has been a drastic change in the education system from just being bookish to learning practically. This created a demand for stationery supplies by increasing the sales of stationery items like art crafts, geometry items, art supplies etc., which also indirectly created an opportunity for stationery shops

Although, there has been a significant shift towards digitalization, the demand for stationery shops has not gone down; but it worked as a medium to market new products that capture audience interests and persuading them to buy stationery supplies for their work

However, when compared to old times the demand for stationery items in office has significantly decreased due to digitalization

Overall, the stationery market is experiencing a new growth with increased purchasing capacity as well as high diversification

List of Items to Sell in a Stationery Shop

items that are sold in a stationery shop depend upon things like the investment capacity of the owner, size of the shop, locality, intent of the buyers as well as the purchasing power in that area. Usually, there are two common types of stationery shops

  1. One that sells only stationery items which are mostly books, pens, and a few office supplies. This type of stationery shop mostly sticks to selling education related items only
  2. On the other hand, you will have stationery shops that sell wide variety of items in addition to normal stationery supplies such as novelty items, party supplies, and art supplies

Let us look into a wide variety of items a stationery shop can sell

  • Art and craft supplies like – brushes, crayons, oil painting sets, canvas paper, easel, pallets, watercolors, glues, threads, ribbons, tapes, scissors and sketchbooks
  • Pens – Ball point pens, ink pens, fountain pens, signature pens, refills, ink bottles and gel pens
  • School and education supplies – geometry boxes, scales, pads, pouches, markers, boards, chalk piece set, sticky notes and slates
  • Office supplies – calendars, card holders, files, folders, calculators, desk organizers, staplers, pin machines, punching machines, copier paper, account notebooks, registers triplicate forms, and locks
  • General items – gift wrappers, stickers, gifting cards, envelopes, novelty items and paper bags
  • Computer related items – ink cartridges, CD/DVD, Pen drives, cleaning kits, laptop sleeves, screen guard, headphones
  • Books – All types of notebooks, drawing books, planners, school books, course specialization books, competitive exams guides, general knowledge books
  • Party supplies – Ballons, candles, masks, party pops and balloon pumps

Managing Stock in Stationery Shop

Inventory management is crucial in the stationery shop business. You need to ensure your shop has the right amount of stock that is labeled and documented at all time. Excess purchase of stock may lead to financial loss to your business and if you have low stock you may lose customers.

To balance the right amount of stock you have you always need to pay due attention to stock management. There are two ways of stock management in stationery shops

Manual method – In this method, you physically inspect, label, and document the quantity of items you purchased. For every sale you make, you will enter the item details in a memo book and finally reconcile them with available stock at the end of the day or week.

Another way of tracking down inventory manually is to use a spreadsheet like Excel or google spreadsheet where you can create templates as per your requirement and also include formulas to help you track the inventory and calculations

Although, the manual way of tracking inventory is popular and most preferred for small business owners; it is also the one that is susceptible to high error

Automation methods

In case, if you are running a  big stationery shop with a high customer inflow and a wide variety of items; it is recommended to have automation software for managing inventory. This type of system offer wide variety of features like barcode scanning, a record of sales, and analytical data of the business

Some of the well-known automated software’s that can used by stationery shops include.

Profit Margin in Stationery Business – A Mixed Output

The profit margin on the Stationery business has a mixed output; In general Indian stationery business makes an average profit margin of 30 – 40%; But on special occasions like the re-opening of schools or the new academic year and special festivals like Christmas and Diwali stationery shop can expect double the normal profit margin.

Moreover, the profit margin is highly influenced by type of items that are getting sold more. For example, pens have 10 – 25% profit margin, notebooks have 20% – 30%, art supplies have 10% and office supplies have 10 – 15%.

But do you only make a 10% profit margin on average? No, the reason is, In India, there are a lot of educational institutions and a high ratio of students. Plus, we have different education systems like state board, CBSE, and International curriculum. In addition, you have competitive exams like IIT, GATE, CSIR, UPSC, etc., Due to different age groups and requirements and different time schedules of exams and curriculum, you will have a mixed purchase of different items leading to a high profit margin

How to Increase Profit Margin in the Stationery Business?

Generally, if you want to increase your profit margin, there are two methods

  1. Increase the number of sales
  2. Decrease your overhead cost

If you want to increase the number of sales you have to promote your business by several marketing tactics such as

  • Selling items on online e-commerce websites
  • Giving ads in local newspapers
  • Maintain a wide variety of collections in addition to stationery items such as gift articles that has high-profit margin
  • Ensure your shop looks attractive such that the customer makes a purchase definitely when they visit.
  • Stay active in social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube
  • Focus more on advertisements during the festive season, exam season, or re-opening of schools and colleges.
  • Participate in small book fairs or host small book fairs at schools

Now, How you can decrease your overhead costs? And increase profit margin

  • Avoid purchasing high amount of stock that are expensive at first place; Only buy if you are getting decent sales eg:- fountain pens, designer pens, expensive dairies
  • Always Purchase goods in bulk instead of retail
  • For large stationery shops; prevent wastage of current and air conditioning
  • Ensure the floor space is utilized properly. It should not be too clumsy or too spacious
  • Make sure to keep your stationery shop highly organized such as keeping signboards, labelling rack; this helps customers to navigate easily without getting lost and loosing interest
  • Intermittently keep an eye on items that are not getting sold even after several months; you can sell them off by end of the season sale.
  • Do not compromise on good quality automated inventory software

Hiring Staff – What you need to Know?

Depending upon the size of your stationery shop you should be able to decide a number of workers you need to have. A large stationery shop with a wide variety of collections would at least require 10 workers out of which one will be the supervisor and the other will be the cashier. The rest of the workers will help the customers and ensure that the items are organized.

So how much do you need to pay for staff? The salary for the staff depends upon their skill. A Floor supervisor and cashier would be paid more or less the same. In general, they would be paid in between 15 – 20 K per month. The regular workers would be paid between 10 – 15 K per month However, their wages may change depending upon the city and the locality where your shop is located.

Security Measures to be Taken for a Stationery Shop

This is one of the ignored topics in the stationery business. Having stringent security is a very important aspect of stationery shops to ensure the prevention of theft and monitoring of the floor.

One must ensure to install CCTV or surveillance cameras in the shop in order to ensure there are no thefts or such actions taking place. This is also important to monitor the activities of customers as well as the workers.

In several states, it is also a rule to have surveillance cameras installed. The CCTV cameras that you purchase should be good quality and should have video recording and storage capability

Choosing Suppliers and Vendors for Your Stationery Shop Business

When you establish a stationery shop, most of the items will be purchased from wholesale from different suppliers and vendors. So, you must maintain a good relationship with them at any costs

In stationery business, you find a lot of suppliers in a market where some of them only supply a specific brand products whereas other supply different brands. When you decide to do business with a suppliers here’s what you need to know

  • Reputation of the supplier – How many years they were in the business.
  • Delivery time
  • Quality of the products they supply.
  • Any assurance or buy back that they provide
  • Do they have Online store where you can directly order
  • What are the shipping charges and return policy?
  • How they handle defective products?

Majority of the suppliers will try to sell only the top level brands; However, several upcoming stationery businesses are making quality products.

If you do not find a supplier for them, you can directly reachout the manufacturer and get the products shipped to your shop. In this way, you don’t have to pay for the supplier instead you are directly purchasing from the manufacturer at a lower price.

Top Brands in Stationery Products

Although, the stationery market has a very large number of brands there are few that are very popular and some of them were industry leaders. Here are some of the popular stationery brands that you can include in your shop. The majority of these brands are recognized as home brands and known to have good quality


Stationery business is one of the lucrative business that have growing potential in the future. Although, there has been a growth of digital medium; the amount of literacy rate has also drastically improved in several nations; which is creating a continuous demand for stationery products. If you are able to do this business in a large scale at commercial level rather than just a small shop; You would definitely see a high profit margin and continuous customer flow.

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