Office supplies retailer Staples announced last month that it relaunched its two digital properties — Staples.com and StaplesAdvantage.com (B-to-B site). The newly redesigned sites promise that product searches will be streamlined from any computer or mobile device, making it even easier to find the products and services that consumers and businesses are looking for. In this exclusive interview with Total Retail, Faisal Masud, Staples’ executive vice president, global commerce, discusses why the retailer has invested in e-commerce, how the shopping experience will be improved on its websites, and how the growth of mobile has impacted its digital strategy.
Total Retail: Why did Staples believe it was important to launch new versions of its websites (consumer and business)?
Faisal Masud: Staples is committed to providing a shopping experience that makes it easier for businesses of all sizes to easily find the products and services they need. The refresh of Staples.com features faster performance, a new interface designed for easier navigation and expanded personalization. For StaplesAdvantage.com, we transformed the website to provide a more personalized experience that's tailored to our customers’ organizational needs. We also created a more simplified checkout process.
TR: What are some of the new features that Staples has included in each site?
FM: We've made a number of enhancements to both our digital storefronts. The revamped Staples.com has been particularly optimized for tablets, allowing full integration with storefronts optimized for mobile commerce. As a result, customers can start and finish shopping wherever and whenever is convenient for them.
StaplesAdvantage.com, Staples’ B-to-B site, has been completely redesigned for desktops and tablets. The refresh launched a new dashboard tool with customers’ need-to-know information, including recent orders, order status, shopping lists, and products that may need to be reordered. Time to reorder is based on the frequency that the user purchases the product, doing the work for customers to determine when particular items may be running low and need to be restocked. The dashboard also displays action items such as orders that are pending approval, which can be approved in one click.
TR: How has the growth of mobile impacted the design and functionality of Staples’ new sites?
FM: Mobile is obviously a key component of our overall e-commerce strategy. As mentioned earlier, staples.com has been specifically optimized for tablets to make shopping from mobile devices as seamless as possible. For Staplesadvantage.com, we rolled out a mobile site refresh earlier this year and will continue to reinvent our mobile offering over the course of 2015.
TR: Can you talk about the process of launching two new sites?
FM: We don’t discuss our relationships with vendors, but can tell you that we have a solid team that's focused on delivering an exceptional shopping experience to our customers. The expectations of B-to-B customers are now influenced by the best B-to-C customer experiences. That said, there are certain attributes that are unique to the needs of each customer segment. One of the biggest challenges is to make sure that we address the needs of each segment. We're also trying to prioritize to make sure that we add the most important features first.
TR: What advice do you have for other retailers that are considering relaunching their websites, both in the process and the end product?
FM: Based on our experience serving both businesses as well as consumers, we're noticing that the lines between B-to-B and B-to-C are blurring when it comes to e-commerce. To illustrate this further, as more people get comfortable shopping online, we've noticed that our business customers expect the same user experience and ease of shopping as provided by consumer websites. They're shopping online in their personal lives, and that's caused them to raise the bar for the sites they use while at work. To truly serve the needs of your customers, we recommend that you work closely with them to deliver a shopping experience customized to their needs.