Research: The Spider Report US

Office products are increasingly bought online. Why is that and what are the must-haves for OP buyers? The answers are simple and complex in equal measure, as The Spider Report reveals...


It’s not rocket science: basic, reliable and rapid functionality – that’s what OP purchasers in the B2B space essentially need from the web store they order from, irrespective of their geographic location.

Simplicity and functionality are core to the ideal web experience of those purchasing office products online – that’s one of the key messages from the US volume of The Spider Report, a survey of 400 online OP buyers recently published jointly by OPI and specialist OP market researchers Martin Wilde Associates (MWA).

Results of the research – split into two separate surveys in the UK and the US – indicate that a wide variety of job functions in the US buy OP online, but they mostly spend little time doing so and also often order infrequently. As a result, online OP purchasing is primarily about delivering an overall customer experience of low price, convenience and speed/ease of use.

The overall online purchasing process needs to be customer-friendly: a website must load and search quickly and effectively, be easy to use/navigate, and not crash or ‘hang’. Comprehensive product information was another key component to get right (see above right).

Focus on the basics

Outside of these basic three requirements, The Spider Report identifies many other additional features that online buyers require, but none of these matter if the basics of the site do not work properly.

The US version of The Spider Report also covers a wealth of detail on how OP is purchased online, including how online purchasing affects the number of buyers and suppliers used, as well as how the main OP supplier is found and selected. It investigates the spend controls placed on online buyers, the current and projected share of OP being purchased online, and the identities of the key online suppliers being used to source each key category of OP. It uncovers what online buyers would like from their current online suppliers but are not receiving, as well as the categories that they would never consider buying online.

Simon Drakeford, CEO of UK online OP reseller EO Group, knows all about the opportunities and pitfalls of buying OP on the internet. He comments: “Selling OP successfully online is not easy: anyone can set up a website, but not everyone has the resources and knowhow to make sure that the online shopping experience meets the exacting expectations of B2B OP buyers.

“The Spider Report provides many insights into the minds and experiences of online OP purchasers and shows what should – and should not – be addressed by those companies that wish to trade successfully in an increasingly competitive online world.”


The Spider Report is available in two volumes – one for the US and one for the UK. To order your copy, go to