Comment February 2017

It's an internet world...

It’s the perennial question at the beginning of the year: what will the coming year hold for the business supplies industry? New OPI News Editor Domenic Donatantonio – and let me take this opportunity to welcome Domenic to the OPI team and introduce him to our readership – has been asking that very question. The answers were mixed and varied, but the thread running through many of them is the increasing digitisation that is expected to impact all parts of our industry.

Indeed, looking at this issue of OPI, it’s clear that ‘online’ is an omnipresent theme. Craig Bartholomew from 360 Office Solutions says in our Big Interview this month that “it’s an internet world”. And if that’s true in the relatively rural and remote market of Montana, it’s fairly indicative of what’s happening elsewhere and what lies ahead.

Amazon, of course – for better or worse (see also our Final Word) – is always at the heart of every ‘online’ discussion. But what about Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce operator often hailed as the next Amazon? Is it actually having an impact on our space?

Our two Category Updates this month also refer to a blurring of the lines between the analogue and the digital, both in terms of end users’ overall digital journey as well as specific products. Just take the office technology segment: is there anything with a plug that doesn’t double up as a charging point for mobile devices? I’ve just found a tea and coffee maker with a USB charging port (and alarm clock) which looks fabulous. A hand dryer in the washroom? Both would also tie in nicely with our industry’s ever-growing focus on the facilities supplies category.

(Semi) joke aside, take a look at pages 60 and 61 to see what new product innovations are on the market as part of this year’s European Office Products Awards (EOPA) shortlist. The winners of all 14 award categories will be announced during the annual EOPA presentation dinner, which this year again takes place in Amsterdam as part of OPI’s Partnership event. Tickets for the dinner – not for Partnership – are still available, so get in touch if you don’t want to miss this special event.

By the time most of you read this issue of OPI, the annual pilgrimage to Paperworld in Frankfurt will be over once more, but hopefully you will all come back with an updated and extended contact book and plenty of ideas and inspiration of how to improve your business – on and offline.