More B2B customers are shifting their purchases online, but with that move comes the need to know where and how money is really being spent. Staples' latest update to the online experience of B2B shoppers seeks to fill the gap. Faisal Masud, Chief Digital Officer and EVP of Global eCommerce at Staples, sat down with PYMNTS to discuss the difference enhanced purchasing capabilities can make.
PYMNTS: Staples recently announced a website overhaul design to make it easier for businesses to find the products and services they need. What can your business customers do now that they couldn't before?
FM: It is a more integrated shopping experience overall, especially for business customers using Staples Advantage. A couple of the changes are critical to streamlining the purchase path for customers, resulting in a reduced number of clicks. As you can imagine, our B2B customers are much more repeat purchasers compared to consumers. Because of this, we want to ensure we are making it super easy for them to come to a dashboard where they can look at their product history, purchase from the list and have the ability to approve order statuses as well as place purchase orders on the fly. This helps to reduce the friction involved in reordering products.
PYMNTS: In your opinion is there anything unique to the needs of business customers when compared to B2C customers? Why?
FM: The needs of B2B customers are unique in some ways, but generally B2B customers tend to follow the same path as B2C customers. It's just that B2C customers are a bit more advanced in their usage. However, with the extended broadband capabilities across corporations now, B2B customers expect a higher level of customization since they are making purchases on a consistent basis. These customers expect us to know what they are buying and be ready to fulfill the demand for them immediately.
In the user experience redesign, we have also integrated an upcoming feature that will enable customers to buy online at StaplesAdvantage.com and pick up in-store. This functionality will allow our enterprise customers and our larger market customers to utilize our stores for the first time ever.
PYMNTS: Specifically, how can Staples' new B2B site help procurement executives?
FM: The redesigned site helps them in multiple ways. One is the ability to immediately access order approvals and approve purchase orders waiting in the queue. It also removed a lot of clutter in the process of navigating to those pages and reordering specifically. Finally, the new site offers the ability to pick up products at a local store versus having to wait for a delivery; this instant gratification component is being added to the features. All of those offerings result in very immediate impacts. The site is also adaptive across multiple devices, allowing customers to view products whichever way they want.
PYMNTS: To what do you attribute the rise in demand for B2B online shoppers?
FM: B2B online shoppers care about what their teams are buying, what the company is buying and what is happening surrounding purchasing behaviors. Therefore, it is important to provide a great deal of visibility into the purchases of these customers. The question is: How can we simplify the way B2B customers view purchases while providing clear transparency into their purchasing practices? That is where the procurement executives can really see the purchasing behavior of their company.
PYMNTS: Finally, what is next for Staples Advantage?
FM: The big thing is the omnichannel component, that's our biggest bet. Enhancing the experience for enterprises by making it easier to purchase on the fly and very easily and conveniently decide where to pick up the product or have it shipped is also important. As well as ensuring approvals are accessible so they are not hanging around too long.
We are also testing out program for our specific mid-market customers where they will receive customized pricing and additional features attached to Staples Advantage. They receive the best prices and the best delivery in any way they want.
The future also involves becoming more sophisticated on mobile devices and enhancing our mobile applications, which as of today we still have more features to launch.