One does not realize that Staples
has a $10 billion online retail presence and is considered by some to be
second only to Amazon.com, according to the Wall Street Journal. Now Staples understands that they need to save by
cutting down 15% of the retail floor space that includes 15 stores in the
US, relocate or reduce 30 US stores and shut down 45 European stores. Probably
Staples needs to re-think its business model and re-define its business.
Similar to Best
Buy customers many folks visit Staples for only the immediate necessities like
printer cartridges, files and folders that can't wait. For all higher valued
items from computers to printers customers are reluctant to actually buy from
Staples before checking online prices. And like Best Buy Staples sales folks
are very knowledgeable and cannot be faulted for changes in consumer behavior.
On the business
buy side, Staples
does have strong B2B relationships and here too business buyers would like
to handle most items through a master contract as apart of the indirect spend.
Businesses would like to order custom printed stuff for some items like
letterheads but for most of the generic stuff businesses like to order online
and pay by P-Card against a negotiated master contract.
change that Staples is trying to deal with, is the whole scale digitization of
business. A traveling salesperson is moving away from a bulky presentation
folder with each slide neatly put away into a plastic sleeve. Instead, the iPad
or tablet helps deliver a constantly refined pitch as illustrated in the
Salesforce.com example of the Rossignol
sales rep revving up the sales presentation on the iPad while waiting at
the client's lobby. Naturally if salespeople are moving away from plastic
presentation folders you can imagine that Staples business is down.
So what is the
future for the office supply business? It's exciting and sometimes scary to
think about because technology and globalization is changing the office so
much. Many offices are giving up office space as people either work from home
or work on the move from the cloud. Offices do have meeting spaces and a few
folks to keep up physical appearances. Naturally these physical appearances do
not include files, paper, filing cabinets or staples– if you think
about it. You need paper to staple together and the movement away from paper
does make Staples seem like a dinosaur!
business as helping the 21st century office just as staples and staplers were
helpful in the 20th century office could be the way to go. Instead of offering
to take digital copy for printing and pick-up at the store copy center, Staples
and other office stores might want to offer services that help the modern
digital road warrior. For example, the digital road warrior might provide some excel
data and need a slick digital presentation in 24 hours while on an international
flight. Imagine that Staples is able to deliver the drafts and the finished
presentation through a virtual assistant to the travelling executive. Sounds
like higher value and margins than paper and staples. Contact StratoServe.