Monday, December 29, 2014

The Year In Office Supplies

As we head into the new year, experts are always trying to predict where the office supply industry is going. It's a weird business we're in as the same innovation that is necessary to stay competitive in any industry also makes it harder to survive in this one. The more technology grows, the more it becomes an essential part of every office. That means companies are printing less, which means they need less ink and toner, less paper, fewer presentation materials and even fewer staples and paper clips. And the industry also has to adjust to the increased role of online and mobile shopping.

So with this shifting landscape in the industry, what were's best-selling categories in 2014? Same as 2013- printer cartridges, copy paper, and binders. That's not to discount the industry-wide trends, which are supported by reliable research and, well, common sense. The lesson here is that the change is more gradual than seismic, and that just because businesses are printing less doesn't mean they've all gone paper-free overnight. There is always a need for traditional office supplies, and for now there is plenty of demand for top categories like classification folders and notebooks. The trick is helping customers find what they want, offering it at a good price, and getting it to them quickly. That part of the equation has never really changed. We just want it easier, cheaper, and faster now, and the companies that keep up will succeed.

In our list of top categories, one of the changes that is noticeable is the increased attention on cleaning and breakroom products; paper towels and bathroom tissue are both climbing up the charts. Businesses are starting to realize their source for copy paper can just as easily be their source for toilet paper, and there are plenty of benefits to getting it from the same place. Diversification can be seen all over the industry, with an increased selection in technology, safety gear, and craft items. Still, none of this changes our commitment to providing the classic workhorse items of the office, and there's no reason 2015 will be any different.


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