As our world becomes ever more automated and digitalised, there are those who might question the relevance of pens, paper and Post-Its – and even stationery suppliers – in the future. After all, there’s an app for just about everything traditionally done by hand: from to-do lists to doodling. We don’t even need to remember where we left our phone or car keys anymore. That said, technology has also allowed stationery suppliers to innovate their business models, giving their customers a better experience and better deals.
The global stationery industry is showing no signs of slowing down.
Market intelligence source Global Industry Analysts predict a positive future for the global stationery industry – with demand for stationery supported by growing literacy rates and a growing number of start-ups and office expansions. The global stationery industry is set to reach just under R3000 billion by 2020, demonstrating the enduring need for stationery suppliers.
The stationery supplier landscape has already been changing overseas.
So, what will the stationery suppliers of the future look like? In the United States, stationery giant Staples announced its planned acquisition of Office Depot earlier this year, as reported on National Public Radio. This will create one huge supplier with expanded distribution networks that can offer stationery at low prices. The flip-side of this acquisition though, is that smaller, local stationery suppliers will struggle to compete with them in the long term.
Predictive ordering systems might be the next innovation for stationery suppliers.
Large stationery suppliers will have access to resources and technology to take their operations into the future too. Historical order data will be used in predictive analysis making it possible for stationery suppliers to preempt their customers’ needs even before they know they’ve run out of paper and ink cartridges. Not only will this make life easier for the customer, it’ll streamline the suppliers’ business and cut down on order processing times too.
Great customer experience isn’t only for B2C commerce.
As with all types of commerce nowadays – especially ecommerce – the customer’s experience is everything: it’s no longer enough to have terrific products only. Stationery suppliers of the future will operate online, through slickly-designed ecommerce sites that are user-friendly to boot. A customer will be able to place an order that is automatically fed into the suppliers’ inventory management system: precluding the need for anything to be processed manually. Furthering this innovation, open source operating systems will mean there’s never any time trying to make incompatible technology function together.
Printers will be able order the paper and ink cartridges for you.
Going further into the future, technology will develop to a point where customers won’t need to order anything themselves. Their printers will notify the supplier when they’re running low on ink or paper. Delivery times will also be halved thanks to a more streamlined ordering and inventory system, as well as far reaching distribution networks.
The days of stuffy stationery suppliers is over. Stationery suppliers of the future will be leaders in innovation – proving that office stationery and technology are not, in fact, mutually exclusive.