Quick News: Buying trends in small business

I was just handed a pretty interesting document courtesy of the School, Home and Office Products Association (SHOPA) that lists buying trends in the office supply arena. The numbers are from 2006, but they still make for an interesting read. One of the major things that impressed me was how little brand name mattered to the average office buyer, and also how little they were concerned about price matching. Take the following chart:

Print Cartridges and paper are the only two products that show a huge push for price comparisons, presumably because they are purchased the most often. That means that everything else in that graph is only occasionally thought of as being “worth” shopping around for the best price. Add into that the information found in this chart, which outlines the important attributes when selecting an office supply retailer:

And you can see the price is only third on the list of importance for most companies, with product availability and the company’s needs coming first. To me, this begs the question: “What if a company had almost limitless availability on a huge range of products, from paper, ink and the stuff I buy every day to the things I only buy once or twice a year, AND they offered a great price?” Seems to me like that would be the place you’d shop, right? Food for thought.

I’d personally love to see the updated numbers since 2006, when we’ve seen an explosion in online shopping and a general shying-away from big box retailers in ALL markets, not just office supplies. I imagine they’ll be pretty impressive.

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