Employees are Returning, B2B Sales are Increasing


March 23, 2023

B2B Office Supplies &Technology Sales are on the Rise as Employees Return
But Q1 Earnings Miss Target for the Quarter

Source: Sabri Tuzcu on Unsplash

B2B sales revenue for both the office supplies and technology industries are showing growth, with 2022 closing out with respective 8% and 10% year-over-year increases according to a new report from Circana, formerly IRI and The NPD Group.  While the COVID-19 pandemic posed challenges to the sector’s sales as many employees worked from home for an extended period, the return to offices has created opportunities.

Circana estimates that 39 million employees worked from home in February 2023, a number expected to decline to 20-30 million on average. This is down from 88 million in August 2020. More employees returning to the office resulted in changing demands.

According to Circana’s US Office Supplies Commercial Tracking Service, the professional, scientific, and technical services sector’s office supplies unit sales rose 16% in 2022, following declines in 2019-2021. Strong gains were seen in writing instruments (37%), office paper (32%), office essentials (13%), and janitorial/breakroom products (7%).

In the same sector, unit sales for B2B technology products grew by 15% (excluding professional services/warranties).  Strong growth was observed in build-to-order notebooks (17%), docking stations (19%), keyboards (10%), mice (10%), monitors (9%), and build-to-order servers (16%).

“Work-from-home policies are evolving, impacting business needs and spending differently by sector,” said Tia Frapolli, Circana’s Office Supplies president. “Seeing performance/purchases at the sector level helps manufacturers make informed decisions and identify opportunities.”

– Greg Walters, Head Writer

Printing-Writing Shipments are Down
Monthly Shipments Recorded at Lowest Seen Since Fall 2022

Source: Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

Printing and writing paper shipments saw the largest decrease since last fall, while February inventory levels remain essentially flat.

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) has reported a decline in printing and writing paper shipments since the fall of 2022.  In its latest Printing-Writing Monthly Report, the AF&PA revealed that total printing and writing paper shipments fell 15% in February 2023 compared to February 2022, and all three major printing and writing grades experienced a decline.

Although the uncoated free sheet had the smallest decline, it still fell 9% compared to the same month the previous year.  The decline in shipments began in September 2022, which saw a 5% increase, and shipments have been decreasing ever since.

Conversely, inventory levels have been rising.  In September 2022, total printing and writing paper inventory levels fell by 1% month-over-month before gradually increasing through January.  The biggest increase in inventory levels occurred from October to November 2022 when levels increased by 9%.  In February 2023, inventory levels remained essentially flat, up just 0.3% compared to January.

In February 2023, there was also a 6% decline in total US purchases of printing and writing papers, the first decline since August 2022. Prior to this, purchases had been on the rise, with the biggest increase in November 2022 when total purchases increased by 13% from the previous year.

In January 2023, net imports increased for coated and uncoated free sheet papers, while net imports of mechanical papers decreased by 2% compared to the same month the previous year.

– Greg Walters, Head Writer

Work Trends
Best Printer 2023: Just Buy This Brother Laser Printer Everyone Has
It Does Just Fine, Says One Writer with the Help of ChatGPT


The new way of work might include the occasional printing of a document or two – print will never die completely.  For those times, this Brother laser printer has a proven track record spanning nearly a decade.

But that isn’t the real point of a recent review and purchase suggestion from Nilay Patel over at The Verge.  Consider this quote, “The Brother whatever-it-is will print return labels for online shopping, never run out of toner, and generally be a printer instead of the physical instantiation of a revenue model.”  Biting commentary.

The author does not let his distaste for all things printed go untold – which is unfortunate for Brother.  The printer mentioned and promoted, complete with a direct link to the Amazon entry, is a solid device and worthy of the $120 price tag.  It’s a printer that just prints “without complaining, and it does not feel like the CEO of Inkjet Supply and Hostage Situations Incorporated is waiting to mug… or enable DRM at the slightest provocation.”  So says, Nilay.

To add insult to injury, the article’s final 275 words are admittedly generated by ChatGPT as the author’s last passage includes, “…I am telling you to just buy whatever Brother laser printer is on sale and RARELY THINK ABOUT PRINTERS AGAIN.”

There are still folks like us with toner in our blood, who can call out the make and model of output devices simply by the sounds the machines make.  Some of us can even smell the difference in ozone emitted.  But our ranks are diminishing.  Though change is inevitable, cherish the moments we have with the familiar tools that have served us so well; appreciate the printers, scanners, and copiers.

– Greg Walters, Head Writer

Work Trends
Garbage In, Garbage Out: The Importance of Addressing Gender Bias in AI’s Fuel
Will AI cross the finish line free from biases, or will it trip and fall with “garbage in, garbage out”? Only time and data will tell.

Source: Sora Shimazaki

Women are excelling in copier sales, and research supports this trend. Studies have shown that women have a slightly higher rate of reaching their quotas compared to men and are 5% more likely to close a deal. Companies with higher gender diversity tend to have higher profits, and women have a strong emotional intelligence, which is crucial in sales. Women are natural listeners, skilled at building trust and relationships, and have an innate ability to understand the emotions of their customers.

To improve their emotional intelligence, women in copier sales should focus on their own emotional state, listen more, understand their customers’ perspectives, and be positive and curious. Every interaction is an opportunity to build a relationship and make a positive impression. Women in copier sales should be proactive, offer useful advice, and stay engaged even after the sale. By focusing on serving their customers, they can increase their chances of closing more sales.

It’s time for the copier sales industry to embrace women and their unique qualities. By diversifying the salesforce and executive leadership team, the industry can rectify gender imbalance and cultivate the qualities that make copier sales a praiseworthy profession. With a focus on serving customers and building relationships, women in copier sales can continue to excel and drive success for their companies.

Read more statistics and content, here.

– Greg Walters, Head Writer

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