Merchant Innovation

Staples Gears Up To Go After Amazon

Staples CIO Tom Conophy had some strong words to say about how the retailer plans to upgrade its dynamic pricing abilities, along with other technology enhancements needed to combat against the force that every bricks-and-mortar retailer has been forced to adapt their models around: Amazon.

"We’re going after Amazon in a big way,” he said at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium earlier this week (May 20), The Wall Street Journal reported.

But why was this CIO specifically targeting Amazon in his comments? Well, like most other retailers, Amazon has put a dent in its business model — and in Staples' case, a much bigger dent than anticipated.

“We coasted and lost our way and didn’t see the onslaught coming from Amazon,” Conophy said, noting that the company wasn't going to coast anymore as it has strategic plans in place to combat the eCommerce giant. Where Amazon has an edge is with its technology and Web accessibility, but Staples plans to fight Amazon with its own medicine — with customer software and data analytics tools.

And that's why Staples is also placing its bets on technology — especially dynamic pricing, where Staples is using its eCommerce site to determine what the price should be, based on what the products are selling for in that specific region. And the pricing can fluctuate throughout the day.

Outside of the data tools, Staples plans to bulk up its IT department, and broaden its eCommerce and mobile presence. What most retailers are finding — like Target, for example — is that investments in digital and mobile are paying off for sales, and the bottom line. Staples hopes they can do the same. And without implementing a data strategy to manage it all, Staples' CIO believes any retailer would suffer.

“If you screw [data governance] up, everything else tumbles down eventually, or you end up with systems where you’re marshaling data 14 ways from Sunday just to get it to look like what you want it to look like,” Conophy said at the conference.




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