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The Boston Globe reports that while "Staples already sells more than $10 billion worth of products online annually, trailing only among the world’s top Internet retailers ... the company that invented the office superstore concept in Brighton nearly three decades ago is moving fast to reinvent the way it does business by embracing online shopping inside its stores."

The retailer seems to have concluded that its giant bricks-and-mortar stores "may be going the way of the dot matrix printer. The company plans to cut in half most of its biggest locations as leases expire. This year, 45 of them will be transformed into sleeker new 'omnichannel' stores designed to blend mobile, online, and in-store shopping ... Overall, Staples plans to reduce retail space by about 15 percent by 2015 and triple the size of its e-commerce and information technology staff this year. About 30 underperforming stores will close this year."

Here's what Staples is doing, according to the Globe:

"A Staples in Norwood, just 20 miles away from its original Brighton store, is the company’s first location to test the new retail plan.

Customers walk in and are greeted by 'The Business Lounge,' with a conference table charging station surrounded by copy and fax machines, printers, computer workstations, and a machine that serves hot Starbucks coffee. A tablet wirelessly connects to a 55-inch screen where customers can browse and buy products online. Six additional kiosks are placed throughout the store.

"Sales associates carry tablets to check inventory and help customers buy online. And new technology automatically triggers a call for a sales associate over the store’s intercom system if a customer stands in the ink section for more than a minute and a half.

"Furniture, a top online seller, is eliminated from the store with the exception of chairs, which Staples’ research found that most people prefer to test in-store before they buy."
KC's View:
This just strikes me as so smart, from the dedicated laboratory that Staples is using to develop digital products to the way they are being implemented in-store. This is what companies have to do - stretch the limits of their own imaginations, challenge core values and competencies, and rethink the foundations of the business to make sure they are relevant for the next and even current generation of shoppers.