TECHNOLOGY

One Click Retail: Amazon’s office supplies category is on the rise

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon’s office supplies category is grabbing more wallet share among business customers.

The online giant had sales just shy of $3 billion across the office supplies segment, and these sales are growing at over 30% year-over-year, according to One Click Retail.

Printers performed very well for Amazon in 2017, generating over $300 million in estimated sales last year. These sales also boosted high growth in ink, toner and paper (74%, 51%, and 56%, respectively). When researching the performance of ink and toner, the two largest office products categories, there was higher growth in sales of inkjet as compared to laser printers (26% and 15%, respectively), which correlated to higher growth in ink compared to toner, the study reported.

Office organization is a broad category which includes file folders, binders, labelers and labeling tape, among other things. It is also the next largest category after ink and toner (both valued at an estimated $390 million in 2017 sales), with an estimated $330 million in sales, and a steady growth of 24%.

Bulk buying of consumables is also driving growth for a couple of Amazon’s office categories. Exceeding the high growth rates of ink and toner were casepack cut sheet paper (90% year-over-year growth) and glue and adhesives (76% growth annually), led by the brands Georgia-Pacific and Elmer’s, respectively.

Amazon also has a high-performing private label offering in the office supplies category. AmazonBasics is the category leader for shredders, with eight out of 10 bestsellers — and two of them rank in the top 20 office products of 2017. The top competitor, Fellowes, markets high-end shredders and holds the remaining two top 10 items, both of which sell for over $450 each.

By marketing a low-cost alternative (the top model sells for $30), AmazonBasics has become the largest shredder brand on its namesake platform, and earned more than 40% of the total category sales in 2017, the study explained.

“While leading retail chains struggle to stay afloat, Amazon is seeing strong growth across the board in sales of office appliances, like printers, scanners and shredders, as well as consumables and office accessories,” said Nathan Rigby, VP sales and marketing, One Click Retail.

“Amazon’s latest efforts in this area, including their upcoming credit card for small business owners, reveals the company’s commitment to finding the same success as a B2B marketplace as they have as a B2C retailer,” he added. “With more and more of the Office Product market moving away from brick-and- mortar in favor of Amazon, there’s no better time for brands to embrace it as their primary sales channel.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Walmart uses technology to bridge employment opportunity gap

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A discount giant is banking on technology to help workers — inside and outside of retail — overcome barriers and advance their skills.

Walmart is an investor in the Employment Technology Fund, an investment fund created in September 2017 by the Walmart Foundation and the Rockefeller, Joyce and W.K. Kellogg Foundations. The firm targets innovative tech-based solutions that support the more than 100 million adults living in America who struggle to find employment.

In an effort to bolster its solutions portfolio, the fund has invested in three new tools. The first, Signal Vine, is a company that uses text messaging to deliver highly personalized and interactive coaching to drive better behaviors and outcomes.

The EFT Fund is also leveraging SkillSmart, a skills-matching platform that increases transparency in the career development and job search process. Finally, it is investing in Nepris, a video-driven platform that provides teachers and students a way to connect with professionals around the world.

“These three companies exemplify a growing force of new entrepreneurs who share the belief that technology can drive social and economic progress,” Yigal Kerszenbaum, managing director, Employment Technology Fund, said in a blog on Walmart’s website.

Click here for more.

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TECHNOLOGY

Study: Price losing ground when it comes to influencing purchase

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Other factors are starting to outshine price when it comes to influencing purchase decisions.

The importance of the shopping experience has doubled year-over-year. and the need for variety and speed of fulfillment options also grew, according to “2018 Consumer Trends Report — Engaging the Informed Consumer,” from Kibo.

According to the study, price is still the top factor influencing purchase decisions for 61% of survey participants, however that percentage is down by more than 12.8% compared to last year. Customers are looking for additional value, including extensive content on branded manufacturer websites, suggesting that product images, videos, reviews, detailed specifications, comparison guides, and other consideration tools are all apt investments.

Buy-online-pickup-in-store is now considered a mainstream offering, with 67% of survey participants having used it in the past six months. Furthermore, shoppers widely recognize that BOPIS offers not only free order fulfillment, but also a degree of flexibility and control not available via home delivery. The ability to inspect items in the store before taking them home was the BOPIS benefit whose importance grew the most year over year, suggesting that stores’ tactile experiences are important brand assets.

Shoppers are also more willing to engage store associates for assistance finding items, with 57% of respondents reporting they’ve done so — an 18.75% increase from 2017. More than two-thirds of respondents said they expected those associates to have access to their order histories, suggesting expectations are high for knowledgeable interactions that draw on shoppers’ past interactions across touchpoints.

Inventory access and availability also remain crucial, with more than half of survey participants reporting that they expect a manufacturer’s site to have items in-stock. Meanwhile, 45% believe they’ll find a greater variety of products available, and 40% believe manufacturers will have more items than retailers.

“As merchants struggle to thrive in the era of Amazon and increasingly look for ways to engage consumers, the key is to understand what factors influence a consumer’s buying behavior,” says Tushar Patel, CMO, Kibo. “It is increasingly clear that while having fair and consistent pricing on all channels is extremely important, merchants have an incredible opportunity to engage shoppers with seamless experiences that include, but are not limited to, flexible fulfillment options like buy online, pickup in store.”

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