Business experts received an unusual surprise as the numbers for late 2021 rolled in earlier this year. Despite the shutdowns, pandemic concerns, shipping issues, microchip shortages, and other local and global problems, companies are making a concerted effort to return to the office. However, the “office” of 2021 and beyond is shaping up much differently from what was common in 2019.
Today, companies are turning to a wide range of configurations, including segmented scheduling, hybrid workforces, and completely remote work. And these new designs call for an entirely new way of stocking the most basic business needs, office supplies. The result is a significant increase in stationary sales, pens, post-its, and other standard requirements for everyday office life. Here are three ways this new office supply boom benefits managed print services and printer leasing providers.
Price Is Not All That Matters
Pandemic response taught a lot of people about convenience. And a significant part of that accessibility is leaving behind the in-person retail portion of their purchase. So, as retail office supply sales saw a very slight jump, eCommerce sales have grown seventy-seven percent over similar sales in 2019, according to NPD Group.
In years past, the primary driver for online purchases of office supplies has been price. However, recent shipping, manufacturing, and other disruptions in the global supply chain have made it harder for retail businesses to keep items in stock. As a result, even eCommerce businesses are often out-of-stock or have extended lead times. This is especially true for more specialized office supplies such as stationery, printer paper, ink cartridges, and toner.
Many companies are discovering that printing supplies are in especially high demand while toner and ink cartridges are still in backlogs at US ports. The solution for many businesses has been to find alternative sourcing options or even other options to replace their usual supplies. Today’s companies aren’t turning to eCommerce seeking a reasonable price point. Instead, they are looking for availability and an ability to deliver.
Printer services businesses such as managed print service providers and printer leasing companies have an unprecedented opportunity. As printer and printing supply experts, they have the knowledge required to efficiently and adequately source printing and office supplies. In addition, when supplies are limited, print service providers know exactly which brands and configurations offer reliable alternatives that will work appropriately with the printers and equipment running in each office.
Convenience Means Efficiency
Another big reason offices are turning to eCommerce for their supplies is the ease of use. Big online retailers like Amazon have made it simple to reorder or return. But online retail innovations go far beyond easy reorders. The past two years have also seen a significant boost in subscription services for everything from toothpaste to cat litter. Applying this option to office supplies was only a matter of time.
Printer services businesses have a unique opportunity now to take advantage of the tools eCommerce offers and convert businesses as they adjust to their new office formats. For example, converting sales orders to an online cart system provides the at-a-click purchasing for which most businesses are searching. And, once a single office and printer supply sale has been established, it is even easier to expand a long-term relationship through subscriptions. In addition, printer service companies can position themselves better if they convert all of their products and services to an online format, including help desk access and service requests.
Catering To More Locations
The most significant contributor to the sudden lift in office supply sales is the proliferation of multiple office locations through hybrid and remote work growth. Each site requires the basics for employees to continue operating at peak efficiency. Usually, this means at least some notebooks, pens, and pencils. But many remote offices also require printing access or onsite printers along with the paper, ink, or toner to operate the machines efficiently.
In addition to the added locations, different offices and workstations run through their supplies at different speeds. As a result, monitoring supply levels and arranging for timely ordering can be a struggle for office managers and administrators. In addition to keeping offices steadily supplied, availability and convenient shipping are yet more problems with which companies must contend.
Unlike the standard business, managed print services and printer leasing providers are built on the ability to provide for multiple office locations. When it comes to monitoring supply usage and configuring schedules for paper, toner, and ink, printer services companies have the technology and planning down to a tee. Now is the perfect time for printer businesses to reach out and offer to apply this knowledge and expertise to current and potential partners who may be facing the dilemmas posed by new, expanded office setups.
Whether it is offering a reliable resource, providing added efficiency, or the ability to help juggle the needs of multiple locations, print services businesses have been given a unique opportunity. As companies work to reopen in this newly transformed market, office managers and administrators need the knowledge printing experts can provide. Because the office supply boom is more than just a return to the office. It is an indicator of how hard many businesses are working to resupply and reconfigure their businesses for future success – a success made easier with a reliable printer services partner.