Office supplies

Office supplies

Office supplies is the generic term that refers to all supplies regularly used in offices by businesses and other organizations, from private citizens to governments, who work with the collection, refinement, and output of information (colloquially referred to as "paper work").

Inside a stationery supplier in Hanoi.
Box of file folders.

The term includes small, expendable, daily use items such as paper clips, post-it notes, staples, hole punches, binders and laminators, writing utensils and paper, but also encompasses higher-cost equipment like computers, printers, fax machines, photocopiers and cash registers, as well as office furniture such as cubicles, filing cabinet, and armoire desks. Two very common[citation needed] medium-to-high-cost office equipment items before the advent of suitably priced word processing machines and PCs in the 1970s and 1980s were typewriters and adding machines.

Many businesses in the office supply industry have recently expanded into related markets[citation needed] for businesses like copy centers, which facilitate the creation and printing of business collateral such as business cards and stationery, plus printing and binding of high quality, high volume business and engineering documents. Some businesses also provide services for shipping, including packaging and bulk mailing. In addition, many retail chains sell related supplies beyond businesses and regularly market their stores as a center for school supplies with August and early September being a major retail period for Back to school sales.

The office supply industry was estimated to be worth US$ 225 billion in 1999 and is still growing.[1]

Office supply companies

As of 2006, the largest office supply chains in the United States (in terms of revenue) are Staples (US$16B), Office Depot (US$15B), and OfficeMax (US$8.9B). Staples is also the largest office supply chain in the world that directly owns and operates its own stores, with 2,000 stores in 27 countries. The largest operator of franchised stores is Office 1 Superstore, with 600 stores located in more than 25 countries.

Examples of other office supply companies worldwide include One Stop Office Shop Esselte Leitz, Herlitz, Komus, Lyreco, Maske Gruppen, Olivetti, Ryman, Vasanta Group, and Vigatec.

Additionally, the rapid rise in popularity of e-commerce companies in the 21st century places office supply companies into the digital spectrum.

Examples of online office supply companies include Shoplet, Quill Corporation, Office Depot, and Office Max.


  1. ^ Engler, Natalie (November 1999), "Supply in Demand", Business 2.0