Using Insights to Build Business Strategy


Andre Brown, Marketing Analyst, Essendant

The importance of building an effective strategy

Using customer insights to build business strategies can provide unmatched growth potential to businesses and shouldn’t be overlooked. As dealers think about the best ways to collect and analyze relevant customer information, the shift to digital technologies has at the same time provided additional opportunities and made strategy development more difficult.

The speed of events and conversations in the marketplace are rapidly increasing, and digital technologies require dealers to act immediately in response to customer demands. With the rise of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, comments and critiques filter down extremely quickly, so dealers must move just as quickly to stay ahead of any possible problems or concerns.

Digital tools also offer a huge opportunity for strategy development. An abundance of useful data and insights are now possible, but unless the data is analyzed correctly the results won’t be truly useful in the long run. A modest degree of knowledge is useful in these instances such as knowing how to correctly use and extract data from Google Analytics.

Critical measures to consider

Financial and nonfinancial measures can be combined to create really powerful data. Financial measures such as point-of-sale data are often the easiest and most straightforward data to capture, but these measures can be even more effective when used in combination with other insights. When combined with nonfinancial measures, such as share-of-wallet – a measure that is often lower than expected—dealers can end up with a more realistic view of their customers’ buying habits and preferences.

In one project, for example, an independent dealer collected point-of-sale data from customers and combined this data with survey info from the same group of customers. A study of the combined data gave the dealer deep insights that guided future actions.

An additional metric Essendant tracks is the “net promoter score,” which is a measure of how likely customers are to recommend a particular dealer or service. This statistic identifies customers as promoters, detractors, or passive customers and helps dealers plan how to approach these customers so they are best positioned to increase both revenue and customer satisfaction.

Interpreting insights to reach customers

Perhaps more important than collecting relevant data is understanding how to interpret that data once it becomes available. Dealers must be able to take data and feedback, glean insights and act upon those insights to build the most effective strategies.

Analytics and research should be used to drive strategies on an ongoing basis. When surveys are conducted only once every three or four years, the data can’t account for variables that change over time and lost revenue can result. When data is collected and analyzed on an ongoing basis, it can be extremely influential in maximizing business results. Best practice, which every dealer should consider, is to incorporate survey data into yearly business plans.

Industry experience sometimes gets in the way of objectively analyzing data, because seasoned managers can possess biases that might influence how they interpret data. The challenge is to not let experience overrule data; dealers must remain open to the insights that research provides to improve their services and increase their bottom line.

A similar challenge that should be addressed is to avoid misrepresenting data, as dealers might be tempted to rework it to give a more positive outlook to their performance. The data should stand on its own, and at the same time dealers must resist the urge to reframe data to please other involved parties or avoid causing controversy.

While challenges inevitably arise with the collection and analysis of survey data, the potential revenue boost and increase in customer satisfaction by far outweighs any downside. Dealers should identify the most important measures to collect, gather this data and then carefully analyze it to determine what adjustments should be made to their business plans.



What is Essendant?

Wondering what Essendant is all about? Find out in this handy infographic!


Monday Morning Motivation

Monday Morning Motivation

Welcome to Essendant!


Today is a new day. Formerly United Stationers Supply Co., Azerty and LagasseSweet, we are proud to be a single, unified brand going beyond the essentials to enable you, our customers to achieve their full potential.

Soon we will be launching a new Essendant blog. The new blog will be your go-to resource of information, insights and news relevant to your business. Check back often as we share industry trends, important news and research, updates on our solutions, tools and happenings at Essendant, and tips, advice and techniques to help you succeed.

The transformation began June 1, 2015 and will continue throughout the summer as the companies merge to offer an even stronger solution with access to more products, capabilities and support – providing greater convenience and efficiency for customers nationwide. Our unified brands all boast a history of exceptional supply-chain management and delivery capabilities, offering next-day delivery to more than 90 percent of the U.S. and providing more than 160,000 stocked products.

For years, our companies have concentrated on the importance of connections, bringing hundreds of suppliers together with thousands of resellers to reach millions of customers. As a result, we have deep industry expertise built on relationships that span decades.

Our expertise allows us to best serve our customers across numerous industries as we support leading companies in delivering business and facility, industrial and automotive essentials. In addition to a broad portfolio of products, Essendant also provides digital content and capabilities, product and category expertise and marketing support.

Essendant will continue to serve as the fastest, most convenient solution for workplace essentials. With growing capabilities to serve our customers, we will continue our commitment to helping customers build connections with end users and ultimately create a stronger community. To learn more about our transformation, please visit

Please pardon our dust as we continue our transition. We invite you to check back often for updates! Be sure to follow us and continue the conversation on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.


Introducing the New PURELL ES™ Everywhere System

purell esUnlike a bottle, the PURELL ES System will never get lost or knocked over and each refill holds almost twice as much product as a standard 8 fl. oz. pump bottle. The system offers four mounting options to provide the utmost versatility for every placement need. 3M Command® Strips (included) offer secure and reliable wall, rail or surface mounting. This allows your customers to put proven hand hygiene where it’s needed, such as:

Breakroomspurell es in use
Time clocks
Grocery checkout lanes
Bank teller counters
Food prep areas
Medical waiting areas
Conference rooms
Elevator call stations


Watch the video for more on the PURELL ES System.

For more information about this great new, innovative product contact your United rep or visit Solutions Central!

Know Before You Go

It’s a large part of your life. You use it every single day, without even thinking about it. But if it disappeared from our lives, I think we would all miss it. What is it?

Toilet paper, of course.

Toilet paper has become part of modern American life, but we know so little of this constant companion. Take a journey with me through the mysterious realm of toilet paper and we will all, hopefully, emerge as wiser and better people.

A Whale of a Tale

Finally, someone took it upon themselves to generate intelligent literature to ponder in the restroom. The problem?

The more you go, the less literature you have.


In January 2012, Ebay user the_heppcat placed an online ad for his prized possession – toilet paper rolls on which he typed he entire novel of Moby Dick, using a typewriter.

“Considering what it’s been through, it’s in amazing condition,” he says. “I’ve kept this mod oddity in a box in a cool, dry place for the last 10 years and have only broken it out to prove to doubters that I actually did it.”

The novel is typed out on clean rolls of 2-ply Cottonelle, telling us that our writer has good taste in tissue as well as in literature. While one or two of the rolls have a slight tear at the beginning, the whole package appears to be in good condition. The collection has taken up four complete rolls, with the addition of one-fifth of a roll for the epilogue and one extra half-roll.

All four toilet paper scrolls were available on Ebay until January 28th, 2012 for the bargain price of $999.95, with free shipping thrown in as a bonus. No word on whether this masterpiece has sold since then.


All of us have, at one point or another, had cause to complain about our jobs. But I think we can all take a little time out of our days to empathize with the suffering Public Works employees of Windsor, MO, who were forced to bring their own toilet paper with them to work.

The small Missouri town, boasting a population of 3,000, has four female employees who work at City Hall and ten public works employees, all male, who work at the municipal barn.

The male employees were requested to tote their own TP because, allegedly, the male employees were using far more than the female employees.

The issue came to light at a City Hall meeting in March 2013, causing scandal throughout the small town.

Although the resolution of the issue was unclear, we can only hope that those poor Public Works employees were finally able to regain their toilet paper and their dignity.


When the Spitsbergen Jurassic Research Group journeyed across the archipelago of Svalbard, they were on a mission to locate and excavate prehistoric marine animals from the Upper Jurassic period. They brought plenty of supplies along – and lots and lots of toilet paper.

“It is almost impossible to get the plastic-solution to soak all the way through. To keep the bones from breaking when turned, we use the same technique as in the field. We plaster it, strengthened with burlap and metal bars, but to cover and protect the bones from the plaster; lots and lots and even more toilet paper is needed.”

The team reserves the highest quality toilet paper for protecting precious bones, using cheaper brands for a less dignified, more normal purpose.

When team members find a specimen and need to make a jacket for it, they call for assistance of the toilet-paper variety. Shouting out “TP-time!” inevitably results in several team members running to your aid, rolling out toilet paper and wetting it down for use. The process is time-consuming, requiring up to five layers of dampened paper to preserve fossils.

Who knew the search for ancient monsters would require so much toilet paper?


First sold on a roll by the Scott brothers in 1890, toilet paper has gone from a luxury to a necessity, becoming an integral part of our lives. Now it comes in all sorts of varieties – everything from the simple single-ply to a super-fancy triple-ply. You can buy toilet paper monogrammed or patterned – printed with almost anything you can think of, including $100 bills, baby chicks, and Sudoku puzzles.

Monday Morning Motivation

U022315 quote-01

Your Attitude or Your Business

crying_babyAttitude can be the difference between success and failure. A poor attitude can be contagious, spreading out to affect you, your team and your entire company.

Often we do not realize how our own attitudes or the attitudes of others can affect the whole organization. One rotten tomato can ruin the whole bunch. Your attitude has the power to affect so much – not only your team, but also how you and your team are perceived by your customers. How does your attitude affect your business?

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” – Thomas Jefferson

Attitude may be infectious – but it is also controllable. The first step is to make a choice regarding how you will look at the world. We all need to be realistic and determine how we approach our opportunities and challenges, so we can lead by example.  So what are some ways you can maintain a positive work culture?

Maintain Honest Communications with your team and associates. Ensure that all of your team members are kept in the loop – keep communication clear and honest. Make sure your associates are involved and informed in the workplace.

Make sure everyone understands the mission and goals of the organization. All employees should understand the mission statement and goals of the company. Employees work harder when they know what they are working towards.

Remain positive. Maintaining your own personal positive outlook makes it easier for those around you to maintain theirs.

Maximize efficiencies through collaborative actions.  A team that plays together, stays together. Fostering a sense of comradery is a vital step in building a team that works together without friction.

Ensure Managers understand their roles and have the skill set to effectively lead their teams. Strong leadership can be key to building a solid team. Leaders who understand your key values bring a sense of direction to their teams.

Implement a performance management program to set expectations. Supporting your team and helping them develop necessary skills is as important as selecting the right people in the first place. Team support is an important tool in developing your desired workplace culture.

Provide regular ongoing feedback and recognize contributions. Everyone wants to know how they are doing. Keep feedback flowing. Try to encourage your employee’s strengths.

Take it Step-by-Step

Here are a few tips for maintaining a positive attitude:

Listen or read  inspirational books – Select some about your favorite athlete or a leader who inspires you. Let their thoughts be your guide.

Wake up early – Create a habit of rising early. This allows you to have some time for yourself before you have to face the day. Take time to relax and prepare yourself for the challenges ahead.

be_positiveExercise – Get your blood flowing! It’s amazing what those endorphins can do. And if you can get into the habit of exercising in the morning, it’s a great way to start your day.

Plan your week and your day – Having a clear plan of what your day and week will look like will relieve last-minute concerns and provide you a direction to help you achieve your goals. Completing your tasks step-by-step will also give you a sense of accomplishment

Understand that things don’t always go as planned- Surprises happen. Things don’t always go as planned. Be flexible and adaptable. Focus on the journey.

Surround yourself with positive people – The people you surround yourself with have an enormous impact on your life – helping you with your attitude or hindering you on your path. Choose wisely.

Be thankful – Take some time to be thankful.  Be thankful for who you are and the wonderful people you have in your life. Make this part of your routine. The very act of focusing on what you are thankful for will help maintain your positive attitude.

How do you maintain a positive attitude? Leave a comment, and share your secrets with us!

Are You Ready for CORE Live?


As the Office Product and JanSan industries continue to evolve, independent resellers and distributors must be prepared to compete in a changing economy. Continuing their support of customers in their quest for success, United Stationers and Lagasse will welcome independent dealers and distributors from across the country at the industry-leading CORE Live event Feb. 16-19, 2015 in Nashville, Tenn.

The innovative CORE Live event marks the first time Office Products dealers and JanSan distributors gather with the broad supplier community and other industry experts at a common event. The landmark event is themed “Emerge 2015,” highlighting the opportunities available to resellers as the marketplace and buying behaviors continue to evolve. Insights on best practices and strategies for succeeding in this changing environment will be shared, ensuring attendees will leave equipped to win in their respective markets.

Through a range of interactive and engaging sessions, seminars and presentations, attendees will be provided with ready-to-use information and best practices on a variety of relevant topics.

In addition to United Stationers’ executives who will be speaking on the latest industry trends, keynote speakers include:

  • Jeremy Gutsche, described as “a new breed of trend spotter” by The Guardian and an “intellectual can of Red Bull” by Association Week, will deliver a keynote address on what the future holds for business leaders.
  • Chris Hodson, Associate and Partner at Cleveland Research Company, an independent equity research firm, will provide insights on the industry from an investor’s perspective.
  • James Sun, a proven entrepreneur who was a finalist on Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice” that aired on NBC will offer a keynote address on how small businesses can build loyalty and grow in an increasingly global market.

Make sure to follow United Stationers on Twitter (@USSCOspeaks) and track the latest announcements, insights and updates from CORE Live 2015 with #EMERGECORELIVE.


Seven of the Best Organization Products


It’s time to get motivated to clean up and get organized. The problem is, once you purge everything, what are some of the products that will help you get things back in order and keep them that way?

Here’s a list of some of the top organizing products for every room in your life.

Garage Hooks.

The key to any organization is to use the vertical space; so as much as possible, get things up on the wall. This means buying the racks that are specially made to hold shovels, rakes and the like, as well as the gadgets found in a hardware or home center store that will hold bikes on the wall and a multitude of other paraphernalia all of us store in the garage or basement.

Box Bottom Hanging Files.

If your hanging folders are bulging with paper or you have many folders within a category in your hanging folder, consider using a box-bottom hanging folder. They have flat bottoms (cardboard at the bottom keeps them flat) and come in 1-inch, 2-inch and larger widths. Using these prevents folders and papers from spilling out of the top of their hanging folder.

Drawer Dividers.

Yes, we all need junk drawers, but they don’t have to look that way. Keep your junk drawer and any other drawer, including sock and underwear drawers and desk drawers, looking neat with drawer dividers. There are two different types of drawer dividers. One is an ‘Expand-a-Drawer’ which is a one-piece item that expands to fit most kitchen-sized drawers. The other type comes in individual pieces that usually come in combinations of three-inch sizes. Drawer organizers with compartments make it easy to stash paper clips, rubber bands and the like in a tidy, self-contained area.


When you hear the word bin, you think of the large plastic tubs that can store seasonal decorations. And yes, those are great to keep the basement and closets organized. In fact, they can be purchased in colors specially geared to the season for easy identification. But don’t let your imagination stop there. There are leather-covered bins and linen-covered bins that come in a variety of colors and are ideal for keeping magazines tidy on a coffee table or even for storing folded shirts in a closet. Plastic bins are equally as good for storing potatoes and onions in the pantry as they are for storing CDs and DVDs in the office. When it comes to bins, they may be among the handiest organizational products out there.


If you’re in the middle of purging and are throwing out old tax returns or cancelled checks, consider using a shredder to protect your identity and minimize the paper that ends up in a landfill. If your needs are minimal, a small portable shredder may do the trick. If you need to shred volumes on a daily basis, go for the larger, high-capacity machines.

Calendar/PDA (Personal Digital Assistant).

To keep track of appointments, birthdays, and everyday tasks, a calendar or PDA is a must. Or, if you prefer to handwrite your reminders, purchase an appointment calendar that gives you the space you need. Choose from versions that show a day, week or month at a time. Many also come with address pages so that you can keep your contact information right with your calendar.

Label a bin and for some mystical reason it tends to be used for what it was intended for. Somehow a label makes everything official, from a new set of file folders to boxes storing old photographs. Make it a practice to label everything from the get-go. When you start a new file, put an official label on it instead of handwriting one. It will look neater and soon, you’ll want everything in your life to be labeled.