Making a career in Office Logistics

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Mar 19, 2020

Mar 19, 2020 • by Rebecca Smith

The office supplies sector is undergoing a transformation that is reshaping the industry. Some of the most interesting changes include evolving customer demands, technological shifts, falling demand for traditional office supply products, and increasing competition/price reduction. This also means that you can possibly create a career to last your entire future in this industry starting with a role as an office logistics assistant. An office logistics assistant is typically responsible for much more than scheduling meetings and ordering office supplies , and that is something that can help you in getting a good standing in the industry and here are some reasons why you should consider a role in this field.

1. Job growth

Office Logistics is a rapidly expanding field that experienced growth even in the height of the recession. Now, the field is even more promising, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting a seven percent job growth between 2016 and 2026.

2. High pay

As of May 2019, the median annual pay for an office logistician in the United States was $74,590, or $35.86 per hour. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics , the lowest 10 percent earned less than $44,820, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $120,120.

3. Relatively low barrier to entry

Office Logistics offers professionals the opportunity to score high-paying work without an advanced degree. Although some roles may necessitate graduate education or other forms of advanced training, most individuals can find work in logistics if they possess a bachelor's degree. A handful of jobs are available to those with associate degrees, but in general, aspiring office logisticians are advised to pursue four years of post-secondary education.

4. Opportunities for advancement

Although an advanced degree is not necessary for success in office logistics, it can pave the way to rapid advancement. Upper management jobs are plentiful but require extra education and experience.

5. International travel

Many office logistics jobs necessitate frequent international travel. Although these trips focus far more on work than sightseeing, they offer an array of opportunities for those eventually hoping to break into the field of international business.

6. Industry options

Within the field of office logistics, professionals can pursue specialization in such sub-sectors as wholesaling, warehousing, and postal services. Places of employment also can vary from big corporations, small businesses, not-for-profit organizations or for local or federal government entities.

7. Abundant internship opportunities

Although office logistics is a quickly growing field, many aspiring professionals worry about finding that first job. Plenty of stepping stones to entry-level employment are available, including paid internships at companies that may offer jobs to successful interns upon program completion.

8. Development of transferable skills

Many logisticians remain in the field for decades, but others use the skills they've gained to move into other fields. Transferable skills fostered in the field of logistics include forecasting, workflow optimization, general management, and financial planning.

Factors that contribute to the industry and hence role changes

However, one should also keep in mind the following factors which potentially impact the industry, as well as your role in them:

Changing customer demands

Business buyers, who have traditionally evaluated suppliers based on the quality of their products and services, are now increasingly looking for value added services as well. They expect omni-channel service from corporate suppliers (B2B), so as to gain the same level of user-friendly experience that they would get from the typical consumer (B2C) website. The fear of losing these (demanding) customers, has encouraged many office supply players to either introduce their own portals or partner with e-tailers to sell their products.

Staples, the largest global office supplier with over 2,500 stores, had invested significant resources in building their online presence, and has now become the second largest online retailer for office supplies.

Technological shifts

Like many others, the office supplies sector has benefited from technological advancement. Along with selling their products through online channels, manufacturers and retailers are raising the bar for their other digital capabilities. They are increasingly leveraging various online media formats, including mobile-based applications and social networking sites, to expand their digital presence. This enables these manufacturers and retailers to promote and sell their products to a larger number of customers.

Officeworks, the largest supplier of office products in Australia, is active on six different social media platforms (LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest). Officeworks invests a significant amount of resources in their social media engagements, with the objective of elevating everyday products into things that people like and share.

Falling demand for traditional office supply products

Increasing digitization of the work environment has adversely impacted demand for traditional office supplies like paper and fax materials. The demand for smaller and smarter mobile devices (ex: iPads) has caused a reduction in demand for paper; technologies like cloud services help buyers to store documents virtually, thus making purchases of faxes and photocopiers less necessary.

Furthermore, factors including a growing trend towards green initiatives that discourage use of paper, and the birth of virtual offices are also driving down the demand for traditional supplies from corporates.

Increasing competition / price reduction

Another significant challenge comes from the increasing competition in the marketplace. The rising prevalence of discount stores, supercentres, warehouse clubs and online retailers is posing a significant threat to traditional office supply providers, as these players are in better positions to offer competitive prices and one-stop-shop solutions to buyers due to their merchandising and (efficient) distribution models.

Key suppliers have employed mergers and acquisition as a way to beat their slow growth. Office Depot merged with OfficeMax in 2013; while in February 2015, Staples Inc. put in a bid to acquire Office Depot. Though the later one was called off to avoid concerns about monopoly issues and job cuts in the U.S. market, the merger of top two companies, if completed, would have significantly changed the office supplies vendor landscape.

However, the failure of the deal has adversely impacted the two entities. Following the denial of the deal, Staples engaged in a price reduction strategy for targeting medium sized firms, primarily companies with 10-200 employees. Such a move by the dominant player forces other players to cut down prices to avoid losing customers. These factors together have caused overall price stagnation and reduced profitability.