Staples Steps Up Its Game with Omnichannel Stores


Retail chains are finally seeing the value in omnichannel and are moving quickly to join the band wagon.  However, office supplies chain Staples Inc., has a different problem to address… the increasing demand of digital communication. This has caused a slight decrease in the demand for the company’s core products such as pens and paper.

Retail sales of office supplies in 2012 were approximately 1.7% lower in absolute dollars than in 2003, and nearly 25% lower when accounting for inflation. With the recent merger of two major competitors, Office Depot Inc. and OfficeMax Inc., Staples really felt the pressure to step up their online presence.

The retail recently opened two “omnichannel stores,” the ultimate goal is to have a total of 45 stores in the near future.  The format of the stores are much smaller than the usual. Consumers can use kiosk and tablets to access many products not on the stores’ shelves.

Additional new features of the new store include:

  • A business lounge combining digital interactions with the store experience. The business lounge includes meeting space and work stations for mobile professionals and lets customers research and order from Staples’ expanded selection of products
  • The ability to reserve online and pickup in-store, providing the convenience of Staples’ retail network to online shoppers.
  • New Staples EasyTech and Copy & Print spaces, displaying the latest service offerings and featuring consultation areas that allow Staples’ trained associates to better assist small business costumers.
  • and omnichannel touch screen stations, which provide an “endless aisle” experience with Staples expanded assortment online. An ink and toner finder, which lets customers easily track past purchases and find the right ink and toner for them.
  • If they’re exact ink isn’t available in-store, a Staples’ associate can help them order it online and ship it to them for free, another reason Staples is America’s number one choice for ink and toner

In the Internet Retailer, Jim Okamura, managing director of Chicago-based retail consulting firm Okamura Consulting states, “There is clearly too much retail square footage in the market considering the lack of growth in bricks and mortar in general. Retailers can either fight or embrace the shift in channel spend. Staples is attempting to do the latter.”

Creating an environment that brings omnichannel to brick-and-mortar is the perfect idea to retain and increase foot traffic. It will be very interesting to see which retailers will follow the footsteps of Staples.

By Lolita A. Alford

Source: Internet Retailer

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