Merchant Innovation

Staples Goes Omnichannel

Office-supplies giant Staples has launched a "buy online, pick up in-store" program in the face of weak sales and declining profits, Integrated Solutions for Retailers reported.

The omnichannel program, which was launched in July, comes at a time when same-store sales decreased 5 percent year-over-year. The chain announced it will close 40 retail stores in North America, bringing the total to 140 store closures for the year.

In an earnings call with analysts, Staples CEO Ron Sargent said the program lets customers order from and pick up available products within two hours at the nearby store of choice. "Early results are running ahead of expectations," Sargent said. Another omnichannel effort, in-store kiosks, saw double-digit sales growth.

Staples' prices average 10 to 15 percent higher than its most aggressive price competitor, Amazon, Sargent said. But he said the chain also offers free delivery, next-day delivery, no minimum order size, and 5 percent back in awards for customers who spend over $1,000 a year. Staples has also tested a price-matching campaign for back-to-school shopping, and the retailer plans to expand that to match prices of items its competitors stock both in stores and online.

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