It was Paul Tudor Jones who said. “You adapt, evolve, compete or die.” And, he’s a man worth listening to (120 / 400 on Forbes).
It’s no secret that the office supplies category is in decline and has been for some time. Like any successful company with its heartland in office supplies Highlands has been evolving its business for some years. We try to stay ahead of trends and help our clients evolve and win with us.
Office supplies will always be a cornerstone for our business however today it constitutes less than 25% of our sales income. 2009 was a turning point year for Highlands; we could offer true US-wide field sales representation and we entered the cleaning and break room categories. Since then we’ve invested in e-Commerce capabilities, opened international offices in Canada and the UK, enhanced our furniture and facilities offering and added marketing to our portfolio of services.
Over the last year we’ve clarified our vision and the principles that guide us, both internally and externally. This has helped us and our clients to prioritize the direction we take from now, from 2018 and beyond. One principle is ‘Channel Agnostic’. That means we’re not fixed to any channel or marketplace but rather focused on advising our clients on the best place for them to be, and then help them get there.
That’s why marketing is such a vital component of our service offering. Creating and executing strategies to exploit new markets is critical. Helping clients with their proposition and positioning is not only exciting work but also helps drive effective sales advocacy. Also, as more and more business is transacted online, the need for digital marketing strategies and assets becomes paramount. As a result, Highlands made the investments in people and capabilities to help those that require this service to increase their sales.
Highlands will continue to expand our facilities and furniture offerings, as our customers are looking for more support with these categories, and we have demonstrated the ability to help connect suppliers to these customers. We also expect to do more with safety, which is a natural next step for many of the partners we collaborate with.
Beyond expanding product interest, Highlands is focusing on two distinct but well-defined end-user segments this upcoming year: hospitality and multi-family. These segments will take us firmly into the MRO space with clear focus. Further, this focus on specific verticals brings value to our traditional customers as we will be working with suppliers that can help traditional customers broaden what they sell and who they sell to.
An increasingly wide reach across multiple channels, integrated sales and marketing capabilities and access to the entire US market, as well as Canada and European markets, are a few examples of what sets Highlands apart in the sales and marketing space. In 2018, we look forward to helping our clients grow into new channels, markets, and geographies.