The Big Heist: Office Supply Stores Stealing Sales from Jan-San Distributors

Many purchasing agents who order janitorial and housekeeping cleaning products are doing so less frequently with their janitorial/sanitation (Jan-San) distributors and more often through office supply retailers, such as Staples. Several reasons for
this trend include:

  • One-stop shopping convenience
  • More tech-savvy online ordering capabilities
  • Convenience of direct delivery

While Jan-San distributors still hold the majority of sales of these types of products, as well as offer direct delivery to end users, many note that Jan-San distributors tend to use “old school” methods of order placement, such as phone-in orders from catalogs or fax order forms. Those ordering cleaning supplies prefer to use e-commerce websites. Moreover, purchasers of Jan-San products like the convenience of buying, not only cleaners and soaps, but also paper and office supplies all at one time. End users are also using warehouse clubs, such as Costco and Sam’s Club, increasingly more often.

Kline’s research to date points to several categories experiencing flat to low growth over the past three years, including hand care, floor care, and surface cleaners, as end users continue to struggle financially in the extremely slow-to-recover economy. There is a slightly increased use of dilution and dispensing systems by end users to reduce waste and economize. Others report stripping floors less often than they used to in order to save money.

Other major trends impacting the Jan-San market include the expected FDA ruling on the final monograph for antibacterial hand soaps and whether suppliers of these products will need to conduct clinical studies proving antibacterial soaps are more effective and/or safer to use than regular, general purpose hand soaps. Triclosan, another key ingredient, may see regulatory changes affecting it over the next few years.

Kline & Company is currently conducting 1,000 structured surveys of end users of Jan-San products including hotels, hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, schools, colleges and universities, restaurants, and building service contractors. In addition to end-user surveys, Kline is also conducting in-depth interviews with suppliers, distributors, and other knowledgeable, key stakeholders in the Jan-San market in order to compile the Janitorial and Housekeeping Cleaning Products USA: Market Analysis and Opportunities report, due to be published in September 2014.

 

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