retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Staples announced yesterday that as part of its goal of becoming more relevant to its shoppers, it is upgrading its omnimedia strategy, "making it even easier for customers to get all the products and services they need to make more happen with their businesses … With Staples new buy online pick-up in-store feature, customers will be able to select a 'pick up today' option as they view a product on Staples.com. Staples promises to have their order ready for pick up within two hours. Customers can also permanently set their preferred store location, and Staples.com will automatically show the inventory available at the three closest stores. For products not sold in store, customers will still have the ability to ship their order to a store for pick up. Both the buy-online, pick-up in-store and ship to store options are free of charge."

Staples also said that "as a part of its continued commitment to providing a true omnichannel experience for its customers, Staples is also rolling out new touch screen in-store kiosks throughout its retail locations in the U.S. over the next several months. In addition to upgrading the technology to the existing kiosks, the company will reposition them in store to ensure shoppers have even easier access to the over one million products now available on Staples.com, with fast and free delivery when ordered through a kiosk."
KC's View:
Remember, this is a company that is in the process of closing hundreds of stores as it tries to differentiate itself from traditional bricks-and-mortar competitors, and position itself as a viable alternative to online retailers like Amazon. Essentially, Staples has to keep itself from becoming Blockbuster, Circuit City and Borders … which is a lot easier said than done.

Still, I give the company credit for addressing the problem in a way that seems to be both deliberate and aggressive. Nobody seems to be overly romantic at Staples headquarters about traditional ways of doing business … they seem much more focused on doing what needs to be done to survive.