Archive for September, 2016

Drones Can’t Deliver Copy Paper

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

Ever since Amazon announced its entry

into the office products world, pundits

have been quick to predict the imminent

demise of independent distribution, just

like their predecessors did when the big

boxes first came on the scene.

Amazon is certainly a challenging competitor,

but even so, there are limits to their

current ascendancy, especially if sales

professionals hit them where it hurts.

For example, as I write this column, I am

browsing on the Amazon website for some

typical office items. At 6:20 pm Eastern

time on August 22, I found the following:

• One ream of Office Depot copy

paper at $27.99 per ream (No, I am

not kidding! It is the first listing and

delivery will be in 3-5 days. There are

only 11 reams left so buy now!!)

• Three reams of Georgia Pacific

Spectrum Paper at $15.99 per case

(Prime 4-5 Day delivery)

• Six reams (400 sheets per ream)

of Hewlett Packard 20lb paper for

$30.76 per case (Prime 4-5 Day


Ok, so they aren’t very good at copy paper.

Let’s pick something else. How about

toilet paper?

• 24 Rolls of Quilted Northern (90

Sheets per roll) $23.79 or $24.79 for

Prime 4-5 Day delivery

• 48 Rolls of Angel Soft Bathroom

Tissue $21.49 (Their best deal

at 46 cents per roll but with no

commitment on a delivery date on

the Amazon site)

• 12 Rolls of Cottonelle Big Roll Toilet

Paper at 79 cents per roll or $9.49

with Prime 4-5 Day delivery

These prices are much more competitive,

but let’s keep a couple of things in

mind. First, if your company decides to

feature one or possibly two toilet paper

lines, better costing is probably available.

Also, some of these items either aren’t

on “Prime”—which means a higher minimum

order and separate deliveries or “4-5

days”. Next-day delivery, even for a few

bucks more, begins to look pretty good

when your office is running out of toilet


How about binder clips and paper clips?

At 7:10 pm Eastern on August 22 I opened

up the “office products” portion of paperclips/

binder clips on the Amazon site.

Here is what I found:

Standard boxes of items like Acco Binder

Clips or Paper Clips are not easy to order.

The buyer must first search through

various mixed offerings, but with enough

effort they can be ordered. For example:

• 1bx Large Binder Clips 72100 are

$3.48 per dozen.

• 6bx Medium Binder Clips 72050 are

$11.02. There was no option to buy

just 1 dozen, at least not without

significant searching and a very high


• 10bx of Small Non-Skid Paperclips

are $4.04 per pack. (I know, no one

actually wants non-skid paperclips

but they came up closest to the top

in search.)

These were notable examples on the

first page, but there are 84 more pages

of such items if you want to search more

thoroughly. And yes, even staples like

SWI35108’s average about $2.50 per box.

Can you compete? I think so!

Oh, and one other thing: There is a confusing

little phrase on the bottom of each

small product listing: “FREE shipping on

eligible orders.” Huh? I wonder what that

means? Could it be that there are minimums

to receive free shipping?

It turns out both Amazon and Amazon

Business have a minimum order number

on some items—but seemingly not on

others— $25-$49 to receive Prime shipping.

It’s all a bit confusing, as are a number

of other things about their site.

Tom Buxton


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