Event: OPI Global Forum Online Review

A virtual meeting of minds.


The 2021 OPI Global Forum may not have been quite the event we had all hoped would happen in terms of being able to meet up in person, but the Online substitute more than delivered.

A truly global platform this year, 300 attendees registered for the virtual event from as far afield as Mexico, China, Egypt, South Africa and Australia, as well as a large contingent from North America and Europe. A significant proportion of these were from the reseller community – an impressive 50%. Overall, despite the unique challenge of covering so many different time zones, the Global Forum Online was hailed a great success, with 94.3% of delegates saying it was ‘Excellent/Good’.

Shaping the future

Taking place on 5-6 May, the forum was highly interactive from start to finish, with nary a PowerPoint presentation to be seen. Instead, the event comprised in-depth interviews with keynote speakers, panel discussions, breakout sessions, roundtables and plenty of networking opportunities. The latter included a one-to-one option, aka speed dating for businesspeople.

This year’s tagline was ‘Embracing the Future’ and the jam-packed agenda did just that – covering everything business supplies executives need to know to thrive in the so-called ‘new normal’.

One of the key themes running throughout the event was the focus on the changing nature of the workplace. Indeed, the programme kicked off with international workplace consultant Andrew Mawson, Managing Director of Advanced Workplace Associates. He reiterated that while the notion of hybrid working has been around for some time, the pandemic has shown what’s possible.

Mawson added that heading back to the office will require selecting appropriate models of working designed to suit all employees. Ultimately, it will mean moving to a more flexible – and likely smaller – workspace for many companies.

There is certainly a sense of survival, optimism and adaptability within the industry

The ‘Future of the Workplace’ panel which followed delved into this topic even further, examining the reimagined workplace and what it may entail. Discussions included everything from cleaning, hygiene and well-being, to the products being bought to make the post-pandemic office safe, with the required technology in place to create a cohesive hybrid workforce.

Later on, a wide range of intimate and interactive roundtables allowed delegates to pick the brains of subject experts and find real solutions during discussions with industry peers. Topics, again, covered the evolving workplace, but also included B2B e-commerce and marketplaces, the importance of jan/san, the future of sales, a potential Staples/Office Depot merger, and the supply chain crisis.

The next day, John Ghiorso, CEO of Orca Pacific, a full-service agency dedicated to helping consumer product brands achieve success on Amazon, delivered a tour de force into the online giant’s inner workings.

Despite COVID-19 and the havoc it has created, there was an upbeat atmosphere among speakers and delegates alike as regards the future – perhaps even more so than during previous events. The overall sentiment was one of light at the end of the tunnel.

As OPI CEO Steve Hilleard said: “What came through loud and clear and really struck a chord was the sense of resilience. If nothing else, the past year has shown us that no matter how big or small you are, any company can be agile. There is certainly a sense of survival, optimism and adaptability within the industry, and this really shone through at the event.”

OPI Global Forum Online 2021 key takeaways

  • Focus on and adjust to customers, servicing them with what, where and how they want their product.
  • Businesses need to be nimble and agile.
  • The world of work is not going back to the way it was pre-pandemic – it’s about the ‘re-work of work’. The future is hybrid.
  • The business supplies industry has more than proved its resilience and adaptability over the past year.
  • Investment in the industry by the industry is a positive step forward.
  • There are many opportunities in new and existing categories and channels.

To download videos taken at the OPI Global Forum Online, go to: https://na.eventscloud.com/gf2021videos