Office Supplies Global Industry Outlook

The global office supplies industry market size was around $230 billion in the year 2016 

  • The US and Europe are the major matured markets for office supplies. For APAC and LATAM, there is a vacuum in the supply landscape as the major global players have no strong presence in these regions
  • The global office supplies market is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 2.4 percent between 2017–2019
  • Future growth of the industry will be driven by multichannel sales and expanded range of product categories to small and mid-sized businesses, a market that is currently underserved

Office Supplies Global Market Maturity 

The office supplies market is highly fragmented and the maturity level of the buyers and the suppliers is very low outside Europe and North America
The buyers are looking to consolidate their supply base in APAC, Africa, and the Middle East, but are finding it difficult as the global suppliers still do not have a strong presence in these regions

Office Supplies Industry Global Trends

Suppliers in this industry have declining profit margins and are facing tight price competitions. Digitization has led to many retail store closures of office supplies suppliers over the past five years. Price has become a key deciding factor, followed by geographic coverage and supply assurance
Suppliers are also improving their supply capability by adding more products and investing more in their online portals, and are also trying to increase their geographical scope.

Office Supplies Industry: Global Drivers and Constraints

  • Emphasis on self-branded products:Large suppliers such as Staples and Office Depot still bet on their self-branded products, as they have higher margins than other branded products. Staples, for instance, has generated 30 percent of its revenue in recent years from these types of products and significantly increased the number of similar products being launched Source: Beroe Analysis
  • Era of Online Ordering: These days, buyers prefer to order online, as it saves time and energy. Staples has already shifted its investments in its online portal to make online ordering more easy and convenient for its customers. Amazon Business and eBay have entered the office supplies market, as office supplies category fits into their existing sets of products offered 
  • Increasing Service Capabilities of Suppliers: Suppliers in this industry are expanding their product portfolio by including non-core office supplies such as janitorial supplies, technical equipment and break room supplies in their product list
  • Increasing Number of Offices and Job Opportunities, Mainly in the Emerging Markets: Focus on education, increasing literacy rates and increasing job opportunities, coupled with MNCs increasing their geographical capabilities across the globe (especially in the emerging markets), are the major drivers of the demand for office supplies products (e.g. the Digital India Campaign in India, and industrial development in LATAM, mainly in Mexico, Brazil, etc.) 
  • e-Auctioning: Buyers prefer procurement through e-auctions, as they get clear visibility and can access supplier capabilities. Global suppliers have the ability to participate in e-auctions, and the local suppliers are also focusing on participating in them, as it gives them the scope to bid on and participate in huge tenders

category-intelligence-on-office-supplies Currently, the supply market has local and regional players who dominate the market. The global suppliers have entered the LATAM market only recently. In 2015, Office Depot entered LATAM as Office Depot de Mexico, while Lyreco entered the Mexican market through partnership with Principado.LATAM has witnessed the entrance of MNCs, the US-based firms in countries, such as Brazil, Colombia and Mexico. The suppliers, in order to cater to the needs of the MNC's office supplies across the country, are looking for M&As. In 2015, Office Depot bought a 51 percent stake in Grupo Pisa, which is a local group of LATAM wholesale suppliers.

Eco-friendly products are an emerging area in developed countries, where most service providers are seeking to expand their product base. Currently, this is not a prevalent trend in LATAM.Local suppliers prefer to sell self-branded products to the buyers, as this will help them increase their profit margins and will cost comparatively less than the branded products for the buyers.

Increase in M&A: •Global suppliers are enhancing their service capabilities through M&A to secure office supplies contracts from large buyers •Office Depot and Office Max merged in the year 2013 and became the second-largest player in the office supplies industry •Staples announced its merger with Office Depot, which was called off recently in May 2016, as it did not receive approval from the court because it could lead to a monopolistic market Focus on Online Sales:

•Suppliers are investing more in their online portals since online ordering has gained more growth, as B2B and B2C customers prefer to order online •E.g., Staples has become the second largest online retailer for Office Supplies, after Amazon, with its online portal

•Digital Marketing: They are increasingly leveraging various online media formats, including mobile-based applications and social networking sites, to expand their digital presence. E.g., Officeworks invests a significant amount of resources in their social media engagements, with the objective of elevating everyday products into things that people like and share

•Focus on Self-branded Products: Suppliers are offering their own manufactured products in order to increase their profit margins and offer quality products to the buyers at a comparatively cheaper rate

•Sustainability Solutions:Eco-friendly products cost 15–20 percent more than normal products. Some suppliers focus on these products, as it will help the buyers meet their sustainability needs and the suppliers will have higher profit margins as well


Raw materials are one of the major parts of the cost structure for office supplies. Therefore, any increase or decrease in the prices of raw materials will affect the cost of office supplies products. Major raw materials used in office supplies include: •Paper: Used as a raw material in manufacturing products such as notebooks, post-it notes, diaries, notepads and copy paper •Rubber: Used as a raw material in manufacturing products such as erasers, rubber stamps and rubber bands •Steel: Used as a raw material in manufacturing products such as pens, punching machines, staplers, stamps, clips, holders, paper stands and pen stands •Wood: Used as a raw material in manufacturing products such as pens, pencils, paper stands, office desk accessories and office furniture •Plastic: Used as a raw material in manufacturing products such as pens, pencils, staplers, clips, paper stands, desk accessories and pen standsoffice-supplies-market-trendsGiven the changing industry dynamics (impact of the economy on the industry, service level and geographical capabilities of suppliers), the possibility of changes in supplier base (through M&As and changes in suppliers’ strategy) and changing paper prices, a contract length of three years in matured markets (where global players have a strong presence) and a contract length of one to two years while engaging with the local suppliers in emerging markets is suggested, combined with structured continuous supplier management in order to ensure better results from the contact