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Staples takes on international market with new mobile app

The Staples UK iPhone app

Big box retailer Staples is ramping up its mobile strategy overseas with a new iPhone application that drives in-store traffic and captures online sales.

The new Staples app is available for consumers in Britain. In addition to the app, Staples UK also has a mobile Web site, which is designed similarly to the United States version.

“Mobile is a lifestyle and behavior culturally so keeping the same kind of design for Britain and U.S. makes sense in principle as customer requirements are likely to share more similarities than differences such as store locator and price checks,” said Simon Buckingham, CEO of Appitalism, New York.

“Revenues and margins are important whether those revenues and margins come from online or traditional stores,” he said.

“Often times, margins are higher online given the lower overheads but prices are often lower in offline retail than they are online where price comparisons are much easier, so it all depends on what products the retailer is selling.”

Mr. Buckingham is not affiliated with Staples UK. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

Staples UK did not meet press deadline.

Shop on mobile
The app is available for free download in the Apple’s British App Store.

Via the app, consumers can browse more than 9,000 products, read reviews, add items to their shopping lists and check-out.

One of the other big features of the app is to drive in-store foot traffic by finding the nearest location for users. By entering either a city or postal code, users can view contact information and directions to stores.

Consumers can also add items to their shopping lists and can email and edit items off of the list.

Additionally, users can sync printers to the app to find the right ink and toner that they are looking for.

Users can find nearby stores

Big ticket buys
Staples UK also has a mobile site, although it is bare bones and offers only simple functions such as browsing items and checking out.

In the U.S., Staples has been busy in the mobile space for a while.

For instance, the company recently launched a mobile site that is specifically designed for tablets (see story).

Additionally, last year the company rolled out an iPhone app meant to help consumers both in-store and online consumers with features such as bar code scanning and user reviews (see story).

Nowadays, consumers are becoming more comfortable buying their device for bigger purchases.

“I think consumers are increasing comfortable purchasing large items such as printers from their mobile devices,” Mr. Buckingham said.

“Behavior on the Internet and the mobile Internet are converging over time and just as people took a while getting comfortable buying online rather than in retail, they will eventually get comfortable buying from their mobile devices too,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York