Staples is teaming up with Managed by Q, whose web-based platform allows office managers efficient access to providers of more than 100 different business services.
The office supplies retailer will now connect customers in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco to Managed by Q’s network of office services firms, including IT support staffers, cleaners, handymen and even workplace yoga instructors.
Staples and Managed by Q plan to work together over the coming months to expand market availability and the list of services provided. While Staples will be able to offer new services to officers at mid-market companies, Managed by Q will gain access to the retailer's growing base of small and medium-sized business customers.
When its planned merger with Office Depot fell apart, Staples responded by embarking on new strategic initiatives, including a plan to appeal to more mid-market businesses, as well as a mission to invest in more service-oriented offerings.
This partnership is a strong step in that direction, as Managed by Q can helps Staples package many of these services in a way that will make them more attractive and easily consumable for small and mid-sized businesses in particular. We don't know how many small businesses want or have time or space for workplace yoga, but the point is that Staples and Managed by Q can build an increasingly wide array of services from which to choose. Many kinds of stores now offer the office supplies and related products that Staples has long considered its specialty, so perhaps packaging services — and potentially bundling them with products in some cases — could provide a path forward.
Having said that, it is not yet clear that any of Staples efforts so far to rebound are paying off. This week, the retailer reported a 4% decline in same-store sales during the third quarter.
New Staples CEO Shira Goodman has been preaching more of a customer focus and less of a product focus, as well as greater focus on delivery capabilities, which is probably the right attitude for the company to have as it moves more into the services realm. The retailer also has been busy investing in new technology, like artificial intelligence, evident in its partnership with IBM to enhance its Easy Button capabilities. Overall, Staples iss trying to push a lot of new buttons to see what happens, but we still could be a long way from a happy ending for this comeback story.