Comment September 2017

New world order.

I recently attended SP Richards’ Advantage Business Conference in Orlando, Florida. The takeaways were many and varied, but two things in particular lodged in my mind – the need for collaboration (also the theme of the ABC incidentally) and the importance of the facilities supplies sector in our industry.

That’s hardly new nor is it rocket science you might argue. And you wouldn’t be wrong. But there appears to be a current urgency about both topics, brought on no doubt by the growing threat of Amazon (Business) in many markets as well as changing customer expectations in terms of how they buy, what they buy and where they buy products. Are there any resellers still out there – in the more mature markets at least – that only sell traditional office supplies now? If so, chances are they’re missing a trick. 

Flicking through this issue of OPI, you’ll see a range of articles covering both topics. As a Facilities Supplies issue, look out for the special sticker demarcating relevant features. One of these is about the recent Afflink/Independent Stationers partnership, another a short feature on ISSA and the cleaning association’s strategies and goals. Both pieces highlight my earlier point – the need for collaboration – as does indeed this month’s Hot Topic, which discusses better cooperation among all channel players to give independent dealers specifically better efficiencies of scale.

That scale is very much required in the face of the changing competition. I’ve already mentioned Amazon, of course, which sets the bar high for both price and convenience (although both, in fact, are actually often based on mere perception). UK EOS and OP wholesale distributor Exertis Supplies taps into both of these needs, while offering an alternative/addition to its long-established, more broadline competitors. 

And talking of the competition, who would have thought that 16 months after the failed acquisition of Office Depot by Staples, the former might now after all be buying Staples’ US retail stores? A new world order indeed that would be. 

Have a good month.