Never before have there been such dramatic and rapid shifts in the retail landscape, and the only constant is constant change. It goes without saying that the proliferation of technology and e-commerce have made these changes more apparent, but in light of these transformations, the question becomes: How can established brands remain relevant and accessible, particularly when retail is expanding and consumers are faced with so many options? A great example of these evolving dynamics is what is taking place in the office superstore (OSS) channel.
Consolidation and Choices
The OSS channel was traditionally a battle fought and won over price, and consumers would purchase what they needed from the store that had the best offer. However, over the years there has been tremendous organic change in the competitive landscape of the OSS channel, with significant consolidation and merger activity taking place. We’ve witnessed three national chains turn into two, and with the current merger talks between Staples and Office Depot, there might be only one national chain remaining by 2016.
But in spite of this consolidation, consumers are faced with more choices than ever – and price is no longer the only deciding factor for purchases.
Retailers in the mass merchandiser, wholesale club and e-commerce channels have experienced significant growth by offering an attractive one-stop shopping experience for consumers to purchase office supplies in the same transaction as milk and laundry detergent. E-commerce, in particular, is inarguably growing – so much that its growth has surpassed that of traditional retail channels during the busy back-to-school shopping season.
Power of Major Brands
As dynamics in the OSS channel continue to evolve, the power of established brands should not be overlooked. For consumers, brand awareness and presence are key components of the retail experience. They evoke a sense of trust and loyalty in the products they offer, and those associations are passed along to the retailers themselves.