Case Study : Staples
The case study is about one of the three office supply specialist retailer, Staples. Staples provides office supply to its customers via its retail stores and online purchase. In the recent years other superstores like Walmart and Costco have also started to offer office supplies at low prices and Staples have felt the need to find a competitive edge by offering much more than just office supply products. As Staples wants to be the leading office supply company, they have adopted a few strategies where they can overcome the services of their competitors. Staples have developed a multichannel strategy in which they are ensuring their presence at maximum places including online and physical presence. They have also started to differentiate themselves from competitors in adding extra value to their office supplies.
- Assess the extent to which Staples has developed a successful multichannel strategy. What factors have contributed to its success?
Staples have observed that they need to attract customers using multi channels. They have developed a strategy where their customers can make purchase at their big stores that are present in many places. Staples customers can also shop online at Staples’s online stores. Shopping online for office supplies has provide their customers with a sense of personalize service which provides an added privacy and enjoyment to shop (Pappas, Giannakos and Chrissikopoulos, 2012). Staples have gone a step further in facilitating their customers and now they have made a presence in the form of smaller stores in places where a big store is not easy to maintain. At these smaller stores Staples customers can order their copy and print jobs at copy and print kiosks. They are able to receive the help of an in store print specialist.
The above factors couples with the experience of Staples in the field of office supply field and their brand name have helped Staples to increase their customer base and retain the already existing customers by offering a multichannel service. The customers have now an ease of selecting one of the way they can make a purchase from Staples depending on their priorities. This has definitely increased sales and hence profits.
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of using kiosks as a part of its approach?
The main advantage of kiosks is that those customers who are in a hurry and want to shop for specific things can take advantage of them. Customers do not have to wait in long ques and can get through with their print jobs with convenience. On part of the customers, they are not left with being distracted by the many more products that are present at the store.
The disadvantage of kiosks is that the customers can focus on a specific product without bothering to browse other products. They go for a specific product and leave the store with its purchase. This may cause a decrease in the sales.
- How should Staples assess which SKUs to keep in its stores versus on the Internet?
Though the goal of Staples is to increase its sales by all possible means, it does face challenge in deciding which products or SKU to put in the store and which online. They have to make a complete analysis of all their SKU’s as they have a capacity to keep approximately 8000 SKUs on display in their retail store vs 45000 available SKUs. There are three points that Staples should keep in mind before deciding about what to keep in the retail store and what to put online. First they have to look at the profitability margins of the SKUs. They should analyze the profit margins of their products on the online platform vs the retail store. The second is the demand and popularity of the products. They should analyze about what best sells where. The third point is the complexity of the SKU. There are product that may need a sales assistant to sell. Then there are products that are well known among the common customers and are can be sold online with more ease than putting them on display on a store shelf.
- How do the Staples Copy and Print centers differentiate it from the competition?
The main advantage of the standalone copy and print centers is their location. The competitive big box companies have very limited or no presence at the locations where these copy and print services are provided by Staples. These copy and print centers have an approximately 2,000 square feet size which is much smaller than a big box retail store. Customers can access these stores in metropolitan areas where there is not sufficient place for a big box store.
The copy and print centers are also present at the big stores of Staples. They are different from others in terms of them providing their customers to order print jobs in the presence of an in store print specialist who can guide them in getting their print without hazards.
Pappas, I. O., Giannakos, M. N., & Chrissikopoulos, V. (2012, June). Personalized services in online shopping: Enjoyment and privacy. In Information Society (i- Society), 2012 International Conference on (pp. 168-173). IEEE.