Tag: office supplies

By Gaby Del Valle for Vox 

Fall is, without a doubt, the best time to buy office supplies. Yes, office supplies are sold year-round, but fall’s back-to-school vibe spares no one, even those of us who haven’t been in school for years. Fall is when the planners come out to play.

For me, this is the happiest time of the year. I love buying useless little journals and covering my desk with piles of colorful sticky notes. Fall and its corresponding school-and-office-supply bonanzas are a sign of a fresh start: I love telling myself that these journals and sticky notes will make me more organized and therefore more productive and therefore better at my job and therefore happier. Is it true? Not exactly. Does it matter? Not at all.

There’s just one small problem: so many of the office supplies that are marketed toward women are incredibly condescending.

Allow me to give you a few examples. There’s this day planner, which reminds you that ”every day is a fresh start” in the bouncy, stylized cursive script that The Goods’ Eliza Brooke dubbed “bridesmaid font.” The hundreds of notebooks that have “She believed she could, so she did” written across the cover, often in that same font. This Kate Spade “planner companion set,” which you can use to fill your affirmation-emblazoned notebook with stickers that say “the world was hers for the reading.” (You are the “her” in this situation. The world is yours, baby!)

This pencil pouch, which lets everyone know that you are “very busy.” (We are all very busy, because capitalism stops for no one.) These pencils, which would like to remind you that “you got this.” Or these pencils, which announce to the world that you are not only a “boss lady” but also a “goal digger.” Or any of these boss lady name plaques.

These products are a far cry from the boring legal pads and other cubicle accoutrements of yore. They’re kind of fun and seemingly innocuous — after all, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a notebook that dares to be anything other than black or navy blue.

The point of these various fancy desk accessories isn’t just to help you get your work done. It’s to help you get your work done while reminding everyone that you are a woman who works, just in case the labor you do on a daily basis isn’t enough of a reminder.

The issue isn’t that some office supplies are marketed toward women, but that there don’t seem to be any equivalent products for men. Of course, men already have structural power; they don’t need a notebook to remind them that they’re capable of achieving their professional goals.

These products are the logical extension of the genre of professional self-help books that seem to exist solely to tell women that if they stop apologizing in emails and learn to “power pose,” they, too will ascend to the ranks of the She-E-Os.

The point of these books is to blame women for their own professional shortcomings, or at the very least, to rationalize why women are paid less money and taken less seriously than their male co-workers. The accompanying office supplies are meant to give women a way to rectify those perceived shortcomings — for a price, of course.

It’s not enough to be inundated with this advice day in and day out; you have to carry it with you constantly, in your head and on your notebook.

Even if life is easier for working women than it was a few decades ago, the fact remains that most workplaces weren’t designed with women’s needs in mind.

A 2017 report by Lean In and McKinsey, which surveyed more than 70,000 employees at 222 companies, found that corporations hire women at lower rates than men at all levels. Once they are hired, entry-level women are 18 percent less likely to be promoted than their male colleagues, which contributes to the oft-cited pay gap between men and women. They also receive less face time with managers and other senior-level staff and are given less advice on how to advance. All of these issues are compounded for women of color in general and for black women in particular, the report found.

Across industries, men are generally paid more than women, and women of color are paid less than both white men and white women. A 2017 report by the National Women’s Law Center found that black women who work full time, year-round are paid 63 cents for every dollar white men make. That figure is 57 cents for Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women, 54 cents for Latinas, and 87 percent for Asian women, though there’s also a wage gap between different groups of Asian women.

That’s just at the corporate level. A 2018 report by Fast Company found that women who freelance tend to receive lower rates than their male peers, and they’re less likely to receive payments on time. Minimum wage workers, most of whom are women, are rarely granted the same amount of paid leave as those who work at the corporate level. Women at all levels also experience sexual harassment and retaliation for reporting said harassment, which can have detrimental effects on not only their job performance and earnings but also their mental health.

Given these difficulties, it seems trivial to get annoyed about a planner that encourages me to treat every day as a gift or whatever. Honestly, buy whatever maniacally happy shit gets you through the day; the last thing any woman needs is yet another “don’t” on an endlessly long list of things they shouldn’t do at work.

But what infuriates me about these professional products geared toward women is that they seem to occupy a realm where structural issues are only alluded to through inspirational quotes about overcoming adversity and being a #girlboss. The world of women’s office supplies is pastel-colored and impossibly peppy. (I’m fine with the pastels, but I don’t love the pep.) This is a world where, given the right combination of planners and pencils, anything is possible. It is a world laden with positive affirmations, because reality is so bleak. It’s a world where she believes she can, so she does.

Then again, I doubt a planner that says “That ignoramus who sits next to you is going to get a promotion before you do because he’s a dude” would be a best-seller.

Office supplies? Ostrich supplies!

By Troy Turner for Yanko Design

Introducing Ostrich. Never before has a paperclip holder been so awesome. The magnetic silhouette takes on the familiar form of the world’s biggest bird.

Beautiful on its own, the shiny metallic finish and funky red “sneakers” make it an interesting desktop ornament. Add on the included black paperclips, however, and you’ve got something entirely new.

This novel piece of stationery is designed by Arthur Xin.

By Anne Quito for Quartzy

Patented in the US over a century ago as a manuscript binding solution, the humble plastic and metal fold-over fastener (a.k.a. banker’s clip) has been extolled as one of the world’s best design objects in the compendium Phaidon Design Classics. Writers, office workers and neatniks of all shades cherish the binder clip’s versatility. There’s even a popular life hack video highlighting its many uses. As celebrated designer Naoto Fukasawa told Quartz, the office supplies favorite is fine as it is.

But the original binder clip’s iconic status hasn’t deterred the stationery-obsessed Japanese from improving the original. A new binder clip model that requires half the strength to use has been named among the top products at this year’s International Stationery & Office Products Fair in Tokyo. Developed by office supplies company Plus Corporation, the so-called “Air Karu Airy Light Touch Binder Clip” features a longer, flatter finger lever and repositions the fulcrum higher up the triangular spring.

These small engineering tweaks make the clip easier to use and reduces finger pain, as its name suggests.

If Plus’s efforts to retool a perfectly fine apparatus seems frivolous, consider its effect on the billions of binder clips used each day. Air Karu’s designers estimate that a worker conserves as much as 50% energy (or “labor saving rate”) when using the largest of the three available new sizes.

Reviews on Amazon have been positive, with many saying how surprised they were with the clip’s efficiency and ease of use.

“If you frequently use double [large] clips, you know that double clips of this size are too much for women,” writes one five star reviewer. “The double clip seems to be patented in 1910…it is surprising that products that have been invented for more than 100 years now will come up with such ingenuity. Once a patent is registered, a new one page will be added to the patent application textbook.”

Another satisfied customer points out how the new design could benefit Japan’s aging population. “I think that elderly people can use it without inconvenience because of the easy-to-hold lever.” And one customer who sampled the largest Air Karu 32 mm model even had a philosophical take: “it’s a gem when you realize that evolution of technology makes life more convenient.”

Amazon is planning to offer a credit card to U.S. small-business customers, furthering its push to supply companies with everything from reams of paper to factory parts, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The e-commerce giant has been in talks with banks including JPMorgan Chase on a co-branded credit card for small-business owners who shop on its website, said the people, who asked not to be named discussing private negotiations. An Amazon spokesman declined to comment.

Seattle-based Amazon (AMZN, -0.68%), the world’s largest online retailer, has been looking for a way to replicate in the workplace the success that’s made it a go-to shopping destination for households. In October, the company launched a Prime membership program offering fast free delivery for businesses, which was seen as a way to grab market share from factory-equipment providers such as WW Grainger and Fastenal and office-supply stores like Staples (SPLS, +0.00%) and Office Depot (ODP, -3.53%).

Amazon is hoping the new credit card, which will feature rewards points for purchases, will also let it eventually add offerings such as business insurance through a portal designed for its small-business customers, according to one of the people familiar with the matter. Amazon could use customers’ transaction data to help tailor the rewards, this person said. The retailer has already lent $3 billion to more than 20,000 small businesses that sell via its marketplace in the U.S., U.K. and Japan, Amazon said last year.

Warring banks
The battle for small businesses’ spending has also been heating up among U.S. card issuers such as JPMorgan and American Express. Over the past few years, those lenders have debuted retooled proprietary small-business cards as well as new co-branded offerings for such customers.

A representative for JPMorgan (JPM, -1.24%) declined to comment.

AmEx (AXP, -2.33%) says it is the top card issuer for U.S. small businesses and that its portfolio is larger than its five nearest competitors combined, according to a presentation last week. The New York-based company doesn’t disclose total purchase volume for the category. In 2016, small businesses spent about $72.9 billion a year on JPMorgan’s credit cards, $46.7 billion on Capital One Financial’s and $15.6 billion on Citigroup’s, according to a June 2017 edition of the Nilson Report.

AmEx shares slipped on the news, declining 1.4% to $97.67 at the close of trading on Monday. The report also rattled stocks of AmEx credit-card rival Discover Financial Services and Amazon supply-chain competitors Grainger and Fastenal.

Amazon already offers two credit cards for consumers with JPMorgan and Synchrony Financial. Those cards come with as much as 5% cash back on purchases. The retailer is also in talks with JPMorgan and Capital One about a product similar to a checking account that could help it lower the amount it spends on card fees every year.

Source: Bloomberg / Fortune

Five of the world’s leading and most progressive Office Supplies Dealer groups have today announced the formation of an international alliance for the purpose of sharing the vast knowledge, experience and intellect of globally recognised companies and executives within the Office Products market.
Office Choice (Australia), TriMega Purchasing Association (USA), Novexco (Canada), Office Friendly (United Kingdom) and Inovocom (South Africa) will join together under the IOPA banner (International Office Products Alliance) to drive collaboration amongst the management teams of each company in the areas of Private Label sourcing, Best practice sharing, Corporate & Dealer benchmarking and Business model enhancement.
Pioneered by Office Choice CEO Brad O’Brien, this alliance has been born as a direct result of the desire for increased collaboration by each company to build and enhance the support and services provided for the benefit of the members of each dealer group. The alliance will see a yearly schedule of online meetings and international conferences to bring the companies together. The 1st meeting will be held in June 2018 in conjunction with the OPI European Forum in the UK, where the roadmap for the next 2 years will be determined.
Office Choice CEO Brad O’Brien says ““Office Choice are delighted to have been able to bring these great companies together and I am looking forward to working with each company to fulfil the ambitions of the alliance. Each company has been successful in their own market and so pooling resources and learning will be extremely advantageous for all involved.” O’Brien continued “We have built a strong relationship with each company over the past few years and it is a testament to the progressive mindset from all involved that we have been able create this alliance”
“We are pleased to be working with these progressive organizations from around the world and look forward to benefiting from their experience and know how as we share best practices across our platforms”, commented Mike Maggio, President of TriMega Purchasing Association. Ian Wist, Chairman of TriMega remarked, “The primary focus of each of these unique organizations is to better serve the independent dealers in our respective markets. By better understanding how similar organizations operate, our Board of Directors will create a stronger organization for our Members.”
“The IOPA is an exceptional opportunity for Novexco to pursue further its strategy, enhance knowledge and provide ingenious solutions in its market. Novexco, the largest Canadian owned distributor of office and furniture supply in Canada, is delighted to join this alliance. We look forward to sharing and capturing best practices and new trends, with an end-goal of maximizing our customer experience”, said Denis Mathieu, President and Chief Executive Officer of Novexco.
Office Friendly Managing Director Julie Hawley commented “Office friendly is delighted to become part of this illustrious and inspiring international Alliance. The UK office products market is evolving at a fast pace and in turn we are evolving our strategic direction for the benefit of all our members. By aligning with likeminded groups, globally recognised in their own countries as market leaders, IOPA is the next natural and progressive step.”
Inovocom Founding Director Craig Noyle commented “The Inovocom Group , which includes the Office Active, Office Club Africa and Alliance Furniture Dealer groups is honoured to have been included within this prestigious international alliance. Being the leading dealer group in the Southern African region, we look forward to sharing our knowledge of the African market with our peers, as well as the solutions that we have had to adapt for the African market. We believe this alliance will bring huge benefit to our dealers as well as our local industry by exposing us to international trends and best practices within the office products industry. Inovocom looks forward to working with our alliance partners.”

Most of the small businesses are going to run on really low budgets. When an office is needed we often see that the company struggles to create it. That is mainly because of the fact that the small budget is spent on items that are not at all necessary. It is really important to be sure that you are going to get the essentials.

Obviously, the basic office supplies that are needed for one company may be completely different than those needed for another small business. For instance, in the event you run a business that often prints documents for clients, you will surely need a good supply of printer ink before you open your doors. However, if your business is mainly connected to the online world, printer ink will not be that needed.

What you need to do is to assess the specific basic needs the office has when the business is launched. Besides that, you will need basic office supplies. They are almost always needed to make operations professional and smooth. The appropriate supplies are always going to be needed when home based businesses are operated. In this case you want to separate the business and the home for tax, business and practical reasons so office basics will be even more important.

1. Office Essentials
The small business has some pretty simple office essentials that have to be taken into account. This includes comfortable office chairs that are ergonomically correct and desks. Then, you most likely need proper task lighting and file cabinets that can be locked. Larger whiteboards or an erasable calendar can be added so that scheduling becomes simpler while adding to planning projects and deadline tracking.

2. Office Equipment
Since this is 2017, there is a huge possibility you will have to invest in a laptop computer or a desktop computer for every single employee. If you need paperwork, pairing everything with printer access will be necessary. You will most likely need internet access and business email accounts should be set up to make everything as professional as possible. Besides the office equipment, you will need common supplies. This does include ink cartridges, printer paper, heavyweight stationary (you may want to print it with a letterhead and business name) and sometimes you will also need a larger scale printer or a copier, based on business scope.

3. A Communication System
For starters, you will need to set up a phone system. As customers call you, a professional and prompt response has to come in. The phone system that has some individual extensions and at least voice mail is something that is seen as a basic. When there is no receptionist, remote phone management is an opportunity. The alternative to the regular phone system that is now gaining popularity is using VoIP based phone systems. They take advantage of the internet to handle phone calls, similarly to what Skype is used for at home. Using Skype is not professional because of quality concerns. However, other options are going to be available through VoIP. These systems offer many interesting advantages that will only make the business better at prices that are much lower than what you initially expect. Cloud based solutions help you to save even more and offer professional services, which is exactly what customers expect.

4. Business Forms
In order to appropriately track and budget expenses, to manage billing, formalise contractual agreements, account receivables and more, it is important to have business documents. That includes invoices, agreement letters and business contracts. Such materials are important as they will help you to run the business in a more fluid way, especially from the financial standpoint. At the same time, the business forms help the company to properly manage budgets, keep records and prepare the taxes. When vendor disputes appear, as an example, the forms help to set things straight.

5. Marketing Materials
Many small businesses invest the budget they have in office equipment and forget about marketing material. Nobody should do this if success is desired. A part of your startup budget should be added to marketing materials. Promotion will always be necessary so you want to produce business cards and even flyers or brochures when launching a local business. When it is possible, create a website that offers a company overview, products descriptions, services descriptions and testimonials as soon as they appear.

Conclusions
As you can easily see, there are many things that have to be taken into account when you set up any office for a small business. We talked about the essentials that are almost always needed but you should use your due diligence, of course. In some cases you can get rid of some of the essentials mentioned but you should be careful. In so many situations a launch without the office essentials will lead to business operations that are not as effective as they should be.
By Ady Wilson for www.businesscomputingworld.co.uk

Amazon has sent shockwaves through the food retailing business with its near $14-billion acquisition of natural and organic food chain Whole Foods.

The move has dominated the financial news over the past three days and has been called a game-changer for the food retailing industry, but could there be wider ramifications for the business supplies industry? We suggest a few things to think about…

Whole Foods locations could be used as collection points for Amazon online sales, providing customers with more delivery options.

Whole Foods stores could act as local distribution hubs for fast delivery, two hours or even less, and give Amazon a stronger last-mile delivery presence.

Amazon’s move could have a disruptive effect on the wider food retailing industry. There is already speculation about the need for accelerated consolidation in the mass and grocery sector, and if that happened that would affect vendors that sell into these retailers.

Amazon has been testing more consumer-friendly retail concepts, such as its Amazon Go initiative where customers just pick items off shelves without the need to go through a checkout. Acquiring Whole Foods will give it a wider test platform and could lead to faster adoption of some of these shopping innovations as well as speeding up digital transformation in the retail sector in general.

We have previously downplayed the idea of Amazon acquiring retail locations in the business supplies channel because there was no indication that it would make a significant move into the retail space. That has now changed, and the Whole Foods deal validates Amazon’s belief in an omnichannel experience that combines the digital and physical worlds.

Could this mean that Amazon now looks to acquire retailers in other business segments, such as office supplies, and that Staples or Office Depot’s stores could be on the Amazon radar? Possibly, especially if Amazon is not happy with the way that Amazon Business is growing; it hasn’t updated its customer and sales figures on Amazon Business in the US since April 2016. Is that because the growth rate has slowed and it’s not getting the traction it thought it would after Amazon Business’ initial success?

The Whole Foods acquisition is reportedly being driven by difficulties Amazon was having in growing its Amazon Fresh grocery delivery business. If Amazon Business is stalling or not growing fast enough, then why wouldn’t Amazon look at buying growth? We now know that this strategy is part of Amazon’s playbook.

By Andy Braithwaite for OPI.net

Staples is overhauling its marketing as part of a high-stakes pivot away from what it was built on — selling low-priced office supplies at big stores.

The rebranding campaign kicks off next week with nationwide television commercials in which stores are nonexistent and products are only shown in passing. There’s no mention of discounts either.

Instead, the spots star and extol office and building managers as they fix copy machines, clean up spills and restock the breakroom — all with the help of Staples’ delivery business. These are precisely the workers the company sees as crucial to its revival from years of falling sales because they make the purchasing decisions for more than a million U.S. small businesses.

“We wanted to tell a new Staples story,” said Frank Bifulco, the company’s chief marketing officer. “It’s going to convey to all audiences that Staples is much more than a retail office-supply company.”

After U.S. regulators blocked the company last year from buying smaller rival Office Depot Inc., Staples shifted from consolidation mode. Instead, it began to aggressively pursue customers in the $80-billion-a-year U.S. midmarket — or businesses with fewer than 200 employees. Staples currently has less than 5 percent of that market. The plan includes adding 1,000 people to its sales staff, acquiring regional distributors, and offering memberships and services to make office and facilities management easier.

This is all part of the company’s push to expand its delivery business, which offers customers a sales representative and online ordering. This division was already generating more revenue than the brick-and-mortar stores, which have struggled as more consumers shop online. Staples, based in Framingham, Massachusetts, still has about 1,500 locations, but continues to pare down that the number.

While delivery has been a key part of the company’s history since 1993 — just seven years after Staples was founded — it’s barely been mentioned in advertising. The focus has always been the physical store, but that’s not where the company sees its future. By 2020, it expects only 20 percent of revenue to come from retail locations — down from about 40 percent now. The rest will be generated by delivery and online sales.

Having the delivery unit already in place gives Staples a concrete way to veer off the dubious path that many of its retail peers are headed down. The company wants to be seen as a business-to-business “solutions partner” that “makes the workplace work,” Chief Executive Officer Shira Goodman said in an interview earlier this year.

That’s reinforced in the commercials, with the new corporate slogan “It’s Pro Time” replacing “Make More Happen.” One 30-second spot portrays office and facilities managers taking pride in their work as the voice-over says, “It’s not always easy to summon your pro, but once you’ve found it, you’ll find you can do anything.”

That theme will be woven into the company’s back-to-school shopping campaign — with moms being treated as the pros, Bifulco said.

The campaign, crafted by ad agency MRM/McCann, also marks a tonal shift from the silliness that permeated Staples marketing for years. That history has included ads featuring ink fairies, robot love triangles, riffs on “The Sopranos” and a guy walking around the store absurdly yelling, “Wow, that’s a low price!”

“Levity has been part of how we communicated and we’ve done that extremely well on occasion, and other times we kind of did not,” Bifulco said. “We have moved away from that. We’re honoring and celebrating work.”

By Matt Townsend for www.providencejournal.com

With growing concerns about the environment, office supplies are no exception to the consumer drive for products that promise wellness and sustainability.

More than half of small office and home office consumers buy environmentally friendly office supply products, according to Understanding the Small and Home Office Consumer, the latest report from global information company The NPD Group. That number increases to 76% among those purchasing for an office of 31-50 employees, who have a larger carbon footprint.

“Consumers today are becoming increasingly cognisant of the products they use and food they put into their bodies. With office products also part of everyday life, they are just as important,” said Leen Nsouli, director, office supplies industry analyst, The NPD Group. “The emphasis consumers and marketers are placing on green products presents a big opportunity for revenue and innovation within the office supplies industry.”

Paper products such as notebooks and janitorial supplies are the most popular green supplies purchased, driven by printer/copier paper, paper towels, and cleaning supplies.

Overall, purchasers are pleased with the choice of green products, with nearly 80 percent indicating they are very to extremely satisfied. In particular, green product users like the fact that they are using non-toxic products, and are doing their part to help the environment. At the same time, some feel they lack the quality of non eco-friendly products, and can be expensive.

“Environmentally friendly products are popular among office supplies purchasers; however, there is room for improvement and further development,” said Nsouli. “Manufacturers should take consumer dislikes into consideration, to further capitalize on this trend and get ahead of the competition.”

Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Understanding the Small and Home Office Consumer 2016

Methodology

An online survey was conducted in July 2016 among a U.S. representative sample of males and females age 18 and older. Qualified respondents indicated they work in a home office or for a small business of 50 employees or less, and have responsibility for purchasing office supplies for themselves or their office location.

Seeking to capitalise on Britons too busy or forgetful to shop for household essentials, retail giant Amazon is bringing its thumb-sized, one-button ordering device to the UK.

The Amazon Dash Button is a WiFi connected device that reorders your favourite product with the press of a button. According to Amazon, “Each Dash Button is paired with a product of your choice, which is selected during the set-up process. When you’re running low, simply press Dash Button – ensuring you never run out of your essentials again.”

From 1 September, British Amazon Prime customers will be able to order supplies of products such as toilet paper, dishwasher tablets, dog food, stationery and coffee at the touch of the WiFi-connected Amazon Dash button.

Each device is dedicated to a single product – toilet roll, for instance – with the brand’s logo emblazoned on the buttons, which cost 4.99 pounds ($6.53) apiece. So if you wanted the service for two different products, you would need a separate device for each, though customers receive the cost of the device back in the form of a discount on their first order.

Some customers thought the US launch on 31 March last year was an April Fool’s joke, says Daniel Rausch, director of Amazon Dash.

But the service, as gimmicky as it may sound, appears to have caught the imagination of household goods manufacturers.

Rausch said that more than 150 brands have joined the scheme in the United States, up from about 20 at launch, and that there has been a threefold increase in customer orders through the devices in the past two months, though the company gave no data on sales numbers.

In Britain, Amazon Dash will launch with 48 brands in the scheme.

The next step for Amazon is to automate the service entirely, so that appliances such as printers, vacuum cleaners and washing machines order new ink, bags and washing powder when they are running low.

Companies including Bosch, Siemens, Samsung and Whirlpool are already working on integrating Dash Replenishment into their products, Rausch says.

Source: www.reuters.com

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