Paper Redux?

Yesterday I sent out a note Chasing the Customer … But to Where? Chapter 2

The CEO of Staples is recently quoted as follows:

“Our customers are using less office supplies, shopping less often in our stores and more online, and the focus on value has made the marketplace even more competitive,” Mr. Sargent told analysts.”

Fear no more – Lisa Rein in the below linked article in the Washington Post writes a rather fascinating account about the hard work a relatively new special interest lobbying group (Consumers for Paper Options, an apparent paper industry funded lobby group) is doing in our nation’s capital. Seems as though they want the government to reverse course on going digital and bring back paper.

Ms. Rein’s article further points out that the demand for paper products dropped 5% on avg. during each of the last 5 years.

Think of how much of Staples retail selling space is currently dedicated to furniture, fixtures, cabinets, totes and folders, etc. that are specifically designed – to store or hold – paper. Then you can empathize with Mr. Sargent’s dilemma.  Staples is unfortunately in the product niche of selling what consumers don’t want to buy or buy less of from a form factor (brick and mortar) that is no longer requisite. 

Part of the CPO’s lobbying effort is for the government to return to paper checks as a form of payment. Ms. Rein’s article quotes government sources saying that it costs $.09 to process and electronic payment vs. $1.25 for a paper check.

Only a lobbyist could sell that trade off.



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