The office supply sector will undergo some exciting changes next year due in part to increased competition and an evolving digital landscape. Some of the more interesting ones include automation and technology, sustainability practices and business expansion through mergers and acquisitions.
Eco-Friendly Office Supplies
Today’s consumers have become more environmentally conscious, particularly millennials. And they demand transparency from brands who make the materials used in their products. Office supplies in particular have seen a surge in products made from recycled materials. From manila folders made out of recycled fibers to an eco-friendly clipboard containing 100 percent recycled plastic, going green is the new wave in office products. Even traditional paper is getting the boot, as demand has declined and consumers want alternatives like the reusable Rocketbook, a digital pad with a pen-to-paper writing experience. Similarly, dry erase board sales will grow as well.
Retailers, such as Staples, which has more than 2,500 stores around the world, use online portals to give people instant access to order their supplies. Others use mobile-based applications and social media to encourage more people to buy more of their products. According to global technology company Technavio, the global office stationery and supply market is likely to exceed $2 billion by 2019, as the developed markets for supply products grows tremendously. These markets include the United States, the UK, Germany, Canada, France and Japan. Major growth from China, Brazil, South Korea and India is also expected.
Growth through mergers and acquisitions
When big market players want to expand their footprints, it’s usually through acquisitions. In 2013, Office Depot merged with Office Max. Earlier this year, Staples made a cash offer to acquire national wholesale distributor Essendant, which was later declined after a board review. You might recall, the FTC shut down Staples’ attempt to acquire Office Depot in 2015 due to the possibility it could lead to higher pricing.
The concept of vending has been around for ages, but most recently it’s been reinvented to solve the time-consuming delays involved with office supply management. IVM Smart Stations™ and lockers help automate the process by giving employees instant access to the supplies they need to stay productive, with zero downtime. This frees up the entire office to be more productive and innovative. Smart Stations also come loaded with customer support and tracking capabilities to streamline reorders and eliminate waste.
Who knew office supplies had such an exciting growth story for 2019?