Staples promises consumer-grade mcommerce innovation for office supplies
Staples provides a sneak peek today of a new purchasing platform in test mode that is designed to make it easy for employees to order supplies via SMS, email and an application as they walk around the office, part of a broader rebranding for its business-to-business division.
The rebranded Staples Business Advantage is focused on assisting businesses as they adjust to the evolving technology landscape and as employees increasingly use mobile devices throughout their day. The new Staples Easy System purchasing platform enables customers to order products and services on any device, anywhere, at any time.
“Imagine a facilities manager who is making the rounds in their office,” said Ryan Bartley, director of mobile and applied innovation at Staples. “Today, they have to walk back to a computer to login, remember a password, search, browse, add to cart, checkout, etc.
“The Staples Easy system will now allow them to walk around the office and simply talk, chat, or email their orders,” he said. “They can use whatever communication method and experience they are used to – SMS, email, an app, or even the Staples Easy Button!
“We aspire to have Staples be there wherever and whenever business customers have a moment of need in the office.”
The Staples Easy System, which is currently in testing, is designed to remove the friction from what can be a cumbersome ordering process, with those in charge of purchasing having to deal with informal lists, email, verbal requests and written notes for supplies.
The new purchasing platform builds on Staples’ existing mobile and ecommerce tools to enable any office employee to place an order using email, text messaging or voice anytime a product needs to be replenished. Orders can be placed where employees are near a copier, in the break room or outside the office.
The Staples Easy System consolidates orders from multiple employees and devices into one shopping cart, simplifying the process for changing quantities, replacing brands, deleting items and approving final orders.
“Prior to development, our mobile team met with hundreds of customers, visited their offices, and witnessed firsthand the challenges and issues they faced on a day-to-day basis,” Mr. Bartley said. “After spending time with our customers, the mobile team came back with –the insight that “mobile” for our business customers must be ‘more than just an app.’
“What our business customers needed was solutions to everyday office needs and challenges, giving them back the time they need to efficiently run their businesses,” he said.
Staples redefined what ‘mobile’ means to business customers, giving them one more advantage with Staples Business Advantage.”
The Staples Easy System also gets smarter over time, remembering past orders and anticipating customer needs. For example, when a customer orders green tea, the platform knows which brand or type of green tea is preferred in that office.
The system is slated for a broad launch later this year.
Going forward, Staples envisions adding new features, such as ordering for catering or flowers and tracking the status of an order.
The Staples Easy System is one way that Staples is addressing the growing role for mobile in the workplace.
“If you visit any working environment and look around, you’ll find people on their mobile devices,” Mr. Bartley said. “They’re using them for business communications, managing their work schedules, and browsing the Internet and apps for information to do their jobs.
“What you must realize is people in the office are also consumers at home, where mobile commerce is absolutely exploding in popularity,” he said. “They will continue to demand ‘consumer-grade’ experiences at work, so we think purchasing by mobile will begin to see a significant ramp this year, and the years ahead.”