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Staples Improves Omni-channel Experience

September 08, 2014

During the past year Staples has been restructuring its business model as it deals with increasing competition from online retailers. Earlier this year the company outlined a $500 million cost-cutting plan which included the closure of 225 North American stores by the end of 2015. This was based on continued pressure the company has been experiencing with dwindling store traffic. The latest push by the company to improve its operations is the announcement of its new updated omni-channel experience.

The new platform is designed to make it easier for customers to get the products and services they need by seamlessly integrating the online and physical store experience. This includes purchasing products online and making it available to the customer’s nearest available store within hours. In addition, to make the experience faster and more customer-friendly, Staples has also included simplified payment systems with Visa Checkout, new in-store kiosks and the company's first iPad app.

The moves being made are a step in the right direction. In fact, it should be noted that companies like Amazon and Walmart are also implementing omni-channel solutions with faster delivery and pickup options around the country. However, Staples has the benefit of name recognition in office supplies sector which it is looking to leverage as it competes against the retail behemoths.

According to the company the "pick up today" option allows customer to have their order ready for pick up within two hours. Not having to go through every isle in the store looking for what you need or waiting for a deliver is a valuable service. Once a customer selects their preferred store location the website will automatically show the available inventory at that store. If a particular item is not available in the store, it will show three of the closest stores that have the item. Products that are available only online can be shipped free of charge to the store.

Staples is also introducing new touch screen in-store kiosks throughout its retail locations in the U.S. over the next several months. These kiosks will offer customers access to the entire inventory available on with free delivery when they use this platform.

An app for the iPad has also been released, which is a first for the company. Customers can use the tablets to conduct a wide variety of transactions including checking and cashing their Staples Rewards balance and reorder past purchases.

“Staples continues to innovate and develop new technology to improve the customer experience, whether it's providing convenient shipping options, making checkout faster or adding mobile platforms. The recent updates will make it easier for customers to shop however and from wherever they want. This is particularly important for businesses that are always on the go and can't wait for a delivery or delay shopping until they are in front of a desktop," said Faisal Masud, executive vice president of global e-commerce at Staples.

Edited by Peter Bernstein