December 5, 2011, 11:07 AM

Office Supplies

These merchants know how to dress for the office

Lead Photo

Of all the retailers in the Internet Retailer Hot 100, none have a tougher challenge than the merchants of office supplies. After all, selling things like apparel, jewelry, sporting goods, toys—even food and kitchen utensils—allows retailers to present marvelous merchandising images that lure shoppers and hold their attention. How do you captivate shoppers when selling stacks of copy paper, file drawer dividers and ink cartridges?

One way is to make shopping a cinch for all the assorted items people need for their office, home office and school needs—a common trait among the Hot 100 retailers in the office supplies category. Search for a desk chair or printer cartridge on, for example, and breeze through a comparison of the intricate details of several chair models or the multiple options for loading ink into your make and model of printer.

But the products sold here aren't all strictly work related, and these merchants also know how to dress up the more intriguing items of the office world. There's nothing quite like the hand-held feel of an elegant writing instrument—one shaped just so and with a way of moving eff ortlessly across paper—and communicates that experience well to online shoppers. It provides image enlargements, for instance, that magnify the tiny details of key pen features like the nibs that enable a pen to glide across a page.

The merchants in this category also listen to their customers. took stock of how shoppers used its site and what they bought most often, then redesigned its pages accordingly. The site now features new streamlined navigation and a color theme that takes its cues from UltOffice's most popular product line. "We tried to keep the navigation to as few levels as possible and to minimize extra messages, so the product is the star," says Barton Stabler, director of brand strategy., though second among North American retailers only to in web sales, continues to shine a new light on how its customers engage with e-commerce. Its recently upgraded web site lets shoppers dive more deeply into customer reviews of products; shoppers can even sort the reviews by how helpful others have found them.

It's no wonder the web and offi ce supplies go well together.

E-Retailers Awarded the Hot 100 of Office Supplies:


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