Rapidly expanding channels of distribution

How much disruption have office supply stores and websites caused in the U.S. jan/san market?

Staples, Staples Advantage, Office Depot, Office Max, and others have become a rapidly expanding channel of distribution of janitorial cleaning chemicals to professionals in the away-from-home market. Office buildings and other small, independent commercial end users often take advantage of the convenience of getting their cleaning supplies along with paper products, coffee and break room supplies, and other office supply needs from such retailers. Kline has recently completed the latest edition of its venerable Janitorial and Housekeeping Cleaning Products USA study, which covers the market from 2015 to 2017 and is based on over 1,000 end user surveys. The findings are surprising.

First, only about 3% of all dollar sales of jan/san cleaning chemicals are sold to end users via the office supply channel, including both brick-and-mortar stores and websites.The lion’s share of these products are sold to end users via distributors, mostly janitorial supply and paper houses accounting for about half the market’s volume. While this number has declined slightly over the past 10-15 years, a more significant portion of sales seem to have shifted to warehouse clubs, which now account for nearly 8% of market volume. Here again, this channel’s commercial shoppers are heavily skewed towards smaller, independent end users that are shopping at warehouse clubs for other business needs and will bundle in cleaning supplies. Other retail distribution includes grocery stores, mass merchandisers, and home improvement stores, which together account for about 3% of total sales to professional end users.

Second, when end users were surveyed about their use of online sources for buying jan/san cleaning products, jan/san distributors websites still controlled nearly half of the online volume, indicating that commercial end users are loyal and comfortable with their distributors. The consultation and service that distributor reps offer commercial end users helps build relationships and keep end users loyal to their distributors. Only about 2% of commercial end users note they use Amazon.com or other independent websites to buy their janitorial cleaning supplies. While this is currently rather small, it is expected to grow rapidly over the next few years.

These and other critical trends from the U.S. jansan market will be analyzed in our soon-to-be-published program, Janitorial and Housekeeping Cleaning Products: U.S. Market Analysis and Opportunities, which is based on over 1,000 structured interviews with end users and 70 unstructured interviews with suppliers, distributors, and trade associations.

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