Comment March 2017

Find that box!

I can’t recall an issue of OPI in recent times when Amazon hasn’t been a major talking point in one way or another (or indeed on opi.net or at any industry event). But this month it’s a bit different. Different to the tune of $5.5 billion. That’s the potential amount of sales that Amazon Business could generate through its new US Communities contract.

Maybe the news didn’t come as a huge surprise, but it’s certainly another major statement of intent of just how omnipresent Amazon Business is going to be in our sector. See our lead news story on page 6 to find out more about the online giant’s public sector grab.

As Independent Stationers’ Mike Gentile says in this month’s Final Word, “we need to find a new box” to effectively compete. He’s positive that many independent dealers will find that box – some have already – in whatever shape it may come. The overwhelming theme – and it’s evident at every industry event the OPI team attends, whether it’s Paperworld or CORE Live – is this: sticking your head into the sand is not an option anymore and only those that are willing to change and evolve will come out the other end.

And that premise is as true for the manufacturing community as it is for the rest of the industry. In this, our second Vendor Special issue of OPI, we’ve dedicated a lot of pages to progressive manufacturers that have managed to stay at the top of their game for one reason or another.

How does a brand stay relevant for 115 years, for example? Read our Big Interview with 3M’s Jürgen Vent to find out. Or how do you cope when you realise your core product is positioned at the heart of a shrinking category? CEP Office Solutions faced that very threat and tackled it head on.

What, in my mind, all of them – and by all I don’t just mean vendors, but all successful companies – have in common is that they pay close attention to the slowly simmering megatrends that affect us all. And then they take action. Read the Megatrends Hot Topic.

Just as many of you will be picking up this issue of OPI, I will be heading to Amsterdam for this year’s Partnership event and our annual European Office Products Awards dinner where outstanding companies – many of them vendors in the various product categories – as well as individuals will be acknowledged for their achievements over the past year. Read all about the winners and why they won in the April issue of OPI