Tag: office supplies

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

Demand for ‘green’ stationery grows

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


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

Officeworks stores in Australia – already pretty big – are likely to get even bigger as the Wesfarmers-owned chain plans to add new product lines, including drones and 3D printing. The moves comes as Officeworks already dominates the office supplies business in Australia and continues to show growth.

“We’re a $1,8-billion business in a $55-billion market with plenty of room to grow,” Officeworks MD Mark Ward told Fairfax Media.

He says Officeworks is now considering opening larger stores to accommodate its expanding offering – including drones. New stores could be between 3 000 and 4 000 square metres, compared with the stores’ current average size of 1 200 square metres.

Source: channelnews.com.au

Rock, paper, scissors. Amazon always seems to win.

Is there any sector that the Internet juggernaut isn’t taking down?

Its latest target is office supplies. Essentially, if you sell paper products, or anything that uses paper – say, notebooks or books – you’re facing challenging times.

No wonder that Staples, Office Depot, and Barnes & Noble are all “streamlining” operations and closing hundreds of stores.

As it awaits a federal judge’s ruling on its proposed merger with Office Depot, Staples just announced it was downsizing nationwide, with store closures, reduced hours, and layoffs.

Adam Riddle, 29, of Levittown, shopped at a Staples in Langhorne last week to buy a planning notebook for $16.99. He says the reason for the store closings was obvious:

“You can pretty much e-mail everything now,” says Riddle, a communications signal manager at Amtrak. “I only come here if I can’t get something at work.”

He’s right. All the office-supply players used to dabble in various media sales, ranging from CD-ROMs to software. Most of that has gone away or online.

Online dominance is the new norm for office supply sales,” says analyst Garrick Brown, head of retail research for Cushman & Wakefield. “The good news for Staples is that they are the dominant player still, thanks to its early embrace of e-commerce.

“Amazon certainly has made headway, as they have in every retail category,” he says. “Walmart also has picked up some online market share here. But the dominant player for office supplies is still Staples.

But for how long?

The company’s moves to close brick-and-mortar stores and shrink others are to better compete in a new retail reality starring Amazon, experts say.

Apparel retailers, such as the Gap and Macy’s, are deploying the same strategy “to become more nimble,” as they like to say, with a smaller store fleet.

Brown says Staples’ model, taking a 25 000-square-foot store and expanding it to 40 000 square feet, is now outdated. Such demand no longer exists with the shift to online shopping, and with schoolchildren using more laptops and iPads versus traditional notebooks and paper.

Staples is doing all it can to survive while trying to buy out Office Depot.

But the merger has met stiff resistance from the Federal Trade Commission on grounds that the new company would be too big and would lessen competitive pricing.

A hearing is set in federal court next month to see whether Staples can come up with a plan that the FTC will approve.

Anthony Chukumba, a senior research analyst at BB&T Capital Markets, says Staples is faced with “the perfect storm of reduced demand and increased competition”.

Staples generated approximately $21-billion in sales last year and currently has about 2 000 stores. Office Depot generated approximately $14-billion in sales and has just under 1 600 stores in North America.

“You just don’t need as much ink, toner, and paper as you once did in a digital world,” Chukumba says. “And who buys fax machines or CD-ROM discs anymore?”

“There’s no question there’s more competition from online retailers, like the Amazons of the world. Our research shows Amazon routinely undercuts Office Depot and Staples’ prices by over 20% on average,” he says.

“It shows what a robust competitor Amazon is. Amazon has been able to leapfrog Staples and Office Depot in terms of user experience, even though the office supply retailers had a huge head start from their legacy catalog businesses.”

Staples has begun to diversify its revenue stream the last few years, including expanding into janitorial and break room supply sales. This has allowed companies that are already Staples customers to order office cleaning and other products to get better deals and all-in-one delivery.

Staples now generates more than $1-billion of sales annually in this product category, according to Chukumba, and it’s one way to hedge its bets against the growing threat of Amazon.

Moody’s lead retail analyst Charlie O’Shea gave a glowing fourth-quarter 2015 review of Amazon. The online giant grew product retail sales by $3,5-billion, or 15% year-over-year, and expanded margins.

He contrasted Amazon’s performance to the possible Staples/Office Depot merger: “While we continue to believe in the merits of the transaction, especially as competition heats up in the office supply segment led by Amazon, the companies are fighting a tough uphill battle with the FTC,” O’Shea says.

And that’s why the paring continues at Staples, which offers same-day online delivery if orders are placed before 3pm and has an online pickup counter at every store.

“Staples has too many stores, and closing some is not a bad thing when you have this transformation going on online,” O’Shea says. “There’s no question that paper has seen better days.”

By Suzette Parmley for www.philly.com

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