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Differentiated distributor


Office Distribution is a distributor of office supplies serving over 2,600 resellers all over Italy. The company offers more than 18,000 office and stationery products and is constantly adding new items to its comprehensive assortment.

“We aim to meet all of our customers’ office requirements through a constantly growing range of high-quality products,” CEO Andrea Ghidini describes the mission of the Italian office supplies wholesaler. Office Distribution supplies to stationery businesses, office supplies stores, other retailers as well as other wholesaling firms.

Based in Tribiano near Milan, the company has 20 sales agencies throughout the country which are all connected directly with the main office. The strengths of Office Distribution are its wide assortment of brand-name articles, flexible, rapid deliveries, competitive prices and excellent customer service that distinguishes the company from the competition.

Office Distribution, founded in 2008 by Vincenzo Ghidini, originated from the acquisition of the firm’s branch of a company in difficulty. The previous difficulties were transformed into a series of positive results thanks to the founder’s extensive experience in direct marketing and third-party logistics.

These results allowed Office Distribution to lead the market today as a national company for the distribution of office products. “We are focused on sustainable growth, step by step,” Mr. Ghidini explains the company’s philosophy. “This also includes 100% self-financing without any bank loans or other third-party funds in order to stay independent.”

Instead of advancing the company through aggressive marketing and pricing strategies, Office Distribution has evolved into a leading market player by means of excellent customer service. “Our competitors have their customers pay for every modification,” says Mr. Ghidini. “We, however, provide our customers with complete services at no extra charge, such as guaranteed delivery within 24 or 48 hours from receipt of order, support for the point of sale or toner that is compatible with any printer.”

Its service-focused business strategy has earned Office Distribution a constantly growing numberof satisfied, loyal customers. A special service provided by the Italian office supplies experts is direct delivery to its customers’ customers, even for products not bought at Office Distribution itself.

“Our customers can have their goods sent by us directly to their own customers, such as an office supplies wholesaler who wants to supply its retailers. We take care of the entire supply chain and manage the complete transport from our own warehouse to our customers’ own customers. This even goes for products that have not been purchased from us. This way, we provide our clients with substantial added value.” Three years ago, Office Distribution shipped 10% of all deliveries directly to the final customer. To this date, this figure has grown to 30%.

With over 2,600 active customers, Office Distribution is the leading distributor of office supplies in Italy. “The next-largest competitor has approximately 1,800 customers,” states Mr. Ghidini. The company employs 32 people and turned over 72 million EUR in 2014. “Seven years ago when we set up the company, we had revenues of 54 million EUR,” says Mr. Ghidini. “Since then we have grown at a constant rate.”

Office Distribution is equiped with a fully automated warehouse offering over 20,000 m2 of high-tech storage and packaging space. The company sells online and publishes a printed catalogue with over 600 pages full of quality office supplies and stationery products for every requirement.

Office Distribution is currently focused exclusively on the domestic market and has a particularly strong position in northern Italy, where it sells about 60% of its products. But the Italian office supplies leader has plans to internationalize its business and develop neighbouring European markets such as France, German or Spain.

“In Italy, there are two scenarios,” Mr. Ghidini explains the motivation to go abroad. “Either we achieve a position of undisputed leadership, which would require partnering with other firms in the office supplies sector. Or we are acquired by a large multinational. This is why we are increasingly looking to the international market in order to diversify our range of target markets and create synergies with other products compatible with office supplies.”

In addition to developing neighbouring countries, Office Distribution is thinking about expanding to Eastern European markets such as Slovenia. “We do not yet have any contacts there,” says Mr. Ghidini.

A unique service introduced by Office Distribution is Cartoleria Italia, an Internet portal designed to support the many small Italian stationery stores. “It is a hybrid e-commerce website where customers can order all office supplies and have their purchase delivered to their nearest stationery store,” explains Mr. Ghidini.

“This way, the customer does not have to wait for the parcel service at home and can pick up his order at any time that is convenient for him. And the stationery store benefits, too, through increased customer frequency and sales.”

The new portal was started in July and has already attracted 300 stationery stores cooperating with the innovative sales platform. “Our objective is to work together with 1,500 stores by the end of the year,” states Mr. Ghidini. “We consider the new web portal to be an attractive alternative to large players such as Amazon. It brings together two worlds: the anonymous world of e-commerce and online shopping with the world of personal contact and customer advice at the local store. It is a statement which opposes the growing depersonalization of shopping and trade.”

Besides its wide product range and unique service offering, Office Distribution attributes its sustained success in the highly competitive office supplies market primarily to its human resources. “Our excellent team is the most important asset of our company,” explains Mr. Ghidini. “We have very loyal, motivated employees who share our service-oriented philosophy. We have a superb work climate which keeps people with us for many years. We would not be where we are today without our first-rate workforce.”

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