By Nathan Rigby, VP Sales and Marketing at One Click Retail

In much of the Western world, Amazon has become consumers’ preferred retail for household goods of all kinds. As the world’s largest online retailer by revenue, there are few retail sectors that haven’t felt the Amazon effect. But even in categories where Amazon has earned the most consumer loyalty, the eCommerce giant has had less success capturing business purchases.

Office Products is one of these categories. Today, Amazon is making a concerted effort to increase its share of the Office Products market into the workplaces of small businesses, hoping to match their success in European households. Their small business lending program has already given out more than $3 billion to over 20,000 business owners in the US, UK and Japan. They are rolling out a new Prime membership program offering free rapid delivery for small businesses. And last week, it was revealed that Amazon has been working with several banks in order to introduce a co-branded credit card for business customers, which will offer incentives such as rewards points and business insurance.

On the B2C side of things, Amazon has already had a major impact on brick-and-mortar office suppliers in Europe – with estimated 2017 sales just shy of €1 billion and growing at over 40% YoY, the sales channel has been a boon for Office Product brands selling in Europe. So with their latest strategies, designed to pull more business customer traffic away from major domestic retail chains, Amazon is positioning itself as the key retailers for brand manufacturers going forward.

Office Products in Europe: The Amazon Effect

What’s Big

  • HP

It has been said that printer manufacturers aren’t in the business of selling printers, they’re in the business of selling ink. In Europe, HP has proven the truth of that, with Ink ranking as the biggest Office Products category in Germany, the UK and France and supplying the top 4 most popular Ink ASINs in each. With estimated sales north of €200M in 2017, Ink is big business on Amazon, and HP is owning that space.

Of course, the success of Ink is driven in part by strong sales of Printers. In Germany, the largest of Amazon’s European markets, 19 of the top 20 ASINs last year were either Printers, Ink or Toner – 13 HP products and 2 each from Canon and Brother. These brands use printer sales to capture a reliable base of repeat customers; businesses and consumers tend to buy the supplies needed for an appliance from the same place where they purchased it.

Printers also drive paper sales. In Germany, where 60% of Amazon’s Office Products sales are Printing-related, Copy & Multipurpose Paper (White) is the fastest-growing category at a rate of 85%. In the UK, the #3 ASIN of 2017 was Xerox A4 printer paper. In France, the smallest market of the three, growth in sales of Office Products are being driven primarily by the Inkjet Cartridges and Inkjet Photo Paper subcategories, both of which nearly doubled in size in 2017.

By selling printers, brands like HP, Canon and Brother have the advantage of being able to virtually guarantee customer retention, as the majority of customers who buy printers from Amazon will keep coming back for their supplies for years to come. This ensures that these brands will retain a high search ranking and visibility on Amazon.

Office Products in Europe: The Amazon Effect

  • Calculators

In both Germany and France, the second-largest category is Office Essentials. While this is a broad category with a wide variety of items, in both countries it is led by sales of calculators. In France, calculators ranked as two of the top three items, with Texas Instruments leading the category followed by Casio.

Casio was the category leader in both Germany and the UK; in the latter the Casio FX-85GTPLUS Scientific Calculator helped Display Calculators to rank as the fastest-growing category and earned the Amazon’s Choice label.  At the time of writing the item is an Add-on Only item due to a deep discount, but many variations are also available and the current bestseller is the similar Casio FX-83.

What’s Growing

  • Office Organization

Office Organization, a broad category which includes file folders, binders, labelers and storage boxes, is driving growth throughout Europe. In the UK, Office Organization ranked as the #2 category with an estimated £4M in sales and 25% growth, the fastest growing category by volume. The top two items – Really Useful Box and Snopake Desk Storage Expander – are both currently Amazon’s Choice items and helped drive >50% growth in their subcategories.

In Germany, though Office Organization did not rank as one of the 5 largest categories, File Folders, Portable & Storage Box Files was the fastest-growing subcategory by volume with 72% growth and est. €8M in sales. The category was led by a DINOR-brand 20-pack of ring binders, also currently an Amazon’s Choice item. As a broad and strong category with no clear market leaders, Office Organization poses an opportunity for emerging brands to rank high in search and increase their visibility.

 

 

Office Products in Europe: The Amazon Effect

  • Odds & Ends

The final driving trend in the Office Products market is that Europeans are really adopting Amazon as their preferred destination for odds and ends. The kinds of items consumers used to grab from the dollar store – like markers, pens and pencils, dry erase boards, file folders and notebooks – are now flying off Amazon’s infinite shelf. In Germany a Hama-brand laserpointer helped drive 74% growth in the Message Boards & Signs subcategory. In the UK, Pukka Pads note books helped generate an est. €11M in category sales. And Sharpie, Bic and Staedtler all had bestselling writing instruments on Amazon in 2017.

This reveals the fundamental shift in consumer behavior from using Amazon for its distinct advantages, such as buying in bulk, finding lower prices on costly items or tracking down hard-to-get items, to using Amazon to buy everything. When consumers are using Amazon to buy cheap, disposable office consumables that they could otherwise find at the dollar store, it shows how much the online retailer has become the go-to store for European consumers.

Across Europe, Amazon’s Office Products are growing at an impressive rate, and the company’s latest efforts in this area reveal their intentions to become just as successful as a B2B marketplace as they have as a B2C retailer. With more consumers and businesses choosing Amazon over brick-and-mortar retailers, there’s no better time for brand manufacturers to embrace it as their primary sales channel.

One Click Retail is the industry’s most accurate source of sales data for the world’s top eCommerce marketplaces. Using a combination of website indexing, machine learning and proprietary software, OCR estimates weekly online sales figures with market leading accuracy in order to deliver the best insights, analytics and strategies to their brand manufacturer clients. To catch a glimpse of how OCR gives brands critical edge on online platforms with our unique data and expertise, subscribe to our weekly eCommerce insights blog, and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

If you are a brand manufacturer who would like to learn more about how you stack up to the competition—or would like to see your market share and category growth insights—email us at info@oneclickretail.com for a free capabilities demo.