The office supplies market size is undergoing a swift transformation as the demand for office products is growing at a rapid rate. The markets are especially consolidated in countries such as the U.S., France, Germany, UK, Canada, and Japan, and significant growth is also expected from regions such as Brazil, China, India, and South Korea. Some of the most prominent changes in office supplies sector include technological shifts, evolving responsibilities, shifts in customer demands, and reduced utilization of conventional office products:
Increasing Customer Demands:
Business buyers who conventionally evaluate suppliers on the basis of the quality of their products are now increasingly on the lookout for value-added services from suppliers as well. They now expect an omnichannel service from corporate B2B suppliers, so that they can enjoy the same kind of user-friendly experience that they typically derive from a B2C website. A significant majority of office suppliers are now rising in response to these expectations for fear of losing out on new customers.
As a result, office supply players are now introducing extended services on their portals, or are partnering with e-retailers to market and sell their office products. For instance, Staples, one of the largest global suppliers of office products in over 2,500 stores, has invested a significant amount of resources in building its online retail presence. Its focus on updating its service portfolio to rising consumer demands has now led it to become the second largest global online retail space for office supplies.
Shifts in Technology:
Following the trend in other industries, office supply is also witnessing significant changes from technological advancements. Apart from showcasing their products on online retail channels, retailers and manufacturers of office supplies are also extending their operations to other digital avenues. Suppliers are now leveraging a variety of online media formats to expand and improve their digital presence. These formats include social networking platforms and mobile applications. By doing so, retailers and manufacturers can promote and sell their office supplies to a broader set of customers.
For example, Officeworks, the largest supplier of office utilities in Australia has developed its online presence across social media platforms such as YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Over the course of just a few years, Officeworks has invested a significant amount of its resources on developing their social media engagement strategies with the objective of highlighting everyday office products into the feeds of consumers that are most interested in them.
Reduced Demand for Conventional Office Supplies:
The increase of digitalization of traditional work environments has had a drastic impact on the demand for conventional office supplies such as paper and materials for fax machines. In lieu of these, the need for smarter and compact mobile devices such as iPads and tablets has caused a further reduction in the demand for paper. In addition to this, prominent technologies like cloud services aid buyers to store and retain their documents in virtual memory, thus negating the need for purchasing paper for photocopiers and faxes. The growing global trend towards adopting green initiatives is further discouraging the use of paper, and the prevalence of virtual offices has also driven down the demand for conventional office supplies for corporate spaces.
When it comes to green and eco-friendly packaging, the office stationery industry is also following the trend. For instance, 3M manufacturers recycled office supply products under the brand names of Scotch and Post-its.
Increasing Competition from Local Players:
Another significant trend dotting the global office supplies landscape is the rising competition from local players. Discount stores, warehouse clubs, supercentres, and online retailers are posing a significant threat to conventional suppliers of office products. Since local players are in a better position to offer one-stop-shop offers and competitive prices through their distribution models and merchandising, prominent industry players are now revising their engagement strategies. As a result, suppliers of office products are also employing mergers and acquisitions to compete with the relatively slow growth in the market.
As a result of these growing trends, the office supplies market is posing a challenging environment for suppliers. Price has now become a critical, decisive factor, followed by supply assurance and geographic coverage. For buyers of office suppliers, the current environment provides them with a lucrative opportunity to purchase in large volumes. Small and medium businesses can also collaborate with prominent online retailers to establish their hold on the markets. Consequently, the coming quarters would expect industry manufacturers to strengthen their market position through efficient service and cost reduction.