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Staples exec: We are making a commerce a universal experience

NEW YORK — The Staples Easy Button is the symbol of the brand’s vision of “anywhere and everywhere” commerce that is bringing purchasing to mobile and a host of other channels, according to an executive from the company.

Speaking at an event the National Retail Federation’s Big Show, the executive outlined the broad strategy that Staples is taking to let consumers make purchases in a variety of new ways. These new purchasing methods revolve around the new and improved Easy Button and a suite of other purchasing options.

“We have a relationship with a lot of SMBs throughout the United States,” said Ryan Bartley, general manager of growth and applied innovation at Staples. “Putting the easy button in an office, we are starting to hear conversations come up.

“People are asking for things that are just beyond what we usually do which is encouraging for us.”

The easy system
While many consider Staples to be a fairly standard office supply company, Mr. Bartley was quick to point out to the audience at NRF’s Big Show that Staples actually is one of the biggest b2b office suppliers in the country, supplying companies from Fortune 100 down to local small businesses.

With this massive amount of customers, it is important for Staples to be able to service them all fully and to let those businesses order the things they need quickly and seamlessly.

It’s that seamless and easy experience that is the inspiration behind the company’s iconic Easy Button.

But where before the Easy Button was purely a marketing tactic, Staples is now making the Easy Button a more active part of the purchasing experience.

Now, customers can have an Easy Button placed around the office that responds to voice or touch and will let consumers quickly purchase office supplies they need without having to comb through complicated interfaces.

But Staples is also bring that ease to an entire system of purchasing options, ranging from mobile devices to chatbots to email.

“We are starting to publish he same software that powers the button on many different channels,” Mr. Bartley said. “That’s rolled out today already in some channels and soon will be all over.

“Soon, customer service emails will also use the easy system.”

The most prominent tactic the company is taking to bring Easy purchasing to its customers is through mobile. Staples’ mobile app will be one of the first big recipients of its Easy System.

“We see mobile as an orchestrator,” Mr. Bartley said. “We are moving into a time when it is beyond just a singular mobile app.”

That was easy
Chatbots have been sweeping across the retail world in terms of what they can do to help connect customers immediately to the brands they desire over their preferred digital channel.

Smart brands have already begun to use them for customer service, handling information and inquiries and other sorts of clerical tasks that can be automated.

Some brands are starting to use chatbots for commercial purposes, owing to its simplicity and immediacy as a purchasing platform.

Mr. Bartley sees that simplicity as a boon, noting a time when his six-year old twin daughters asked about the Easy Button and were able to grasp the concept instantly.

“They were asking for unicorns and new bicycles and stuff,” said Mr. Bartley, laughing. “But if a six-year old can understand it so easily, then we are on the right track.”

Overall, Mr. Bartley emphasized that using mobile and the increased interconnectedness of our world to dramatically re-envision what the retail process can look like is the only forward.

“The way we view it is that we are moving from a world of static interactions to real time interactions,” he said. “You see it on social media, Facebook Live is taking over.

 “The interactions with customers are changing. You need to be available where and when they are, at all times.”