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Staples’ Mobile Innovation Plays Pivotal Role In Retailer’s Transformation

Staples’ Mobile Innovation Plays Pivotal Role In Retailer’s Transformation
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The recent launch of version 2.0 of the office supply retailer's iPhone app offers insight into the company's growing success with their mobile business strategy.

Paloma M. Vazquez
  • 5 december 2011

Staples’ latest iPhone app (2.0) has redesigned its signature Easy Button into a mobile shopping accelerator, adopting several features to respond to the dynamic needs and use cases of its small business clientele. But perhaps more interestingly, the process undertaken by Staples to adapt to and drive the growth of its mobile business depicts a company whose growing success with its mobile strategy has the opportunity to influence and reshape its broader retail business strategy.

Following its mobile site redesign a few months ago, Staples experienced an acceleration in customer adoption of its mobile site, which now accounts for about 14% of all online activity — exceeding recent benchmarks from the holiday season. To adapt to this growth in customer demand, Staples conducted ethnographic research to identify and understand multiple use cases for small businesses. The results were several feature improvements for the mobile app, stemming from the needs of small business: a feature specifically for timely printer cartridge replacement, synchronization of shopping lists across both desktop and app, and barcode scanning to maintain inventory of supplies that are running low. Also of note, is the addition of an in-store mode that activates if a user checks in at a Staples retail store. That setting will prioritize different features, including a coupon wallet to utilize in-store.

Staples’ adaptive approach to improve its mobile app’s small business utility has already begun to influence increased repeat usage and purchase; the learnings and data it generates over the next quarter will provide further clarity and insight for subsequent improvements. The next step for Staples in the transformation of its mobile and offline retail business is to converge the various databases across its core channels — call centers, web assets and mobile.

We believe the growing success of its adaptive mobile business strategy can serve as a resource and model to drive the transformation of the retailer’s total business. The  process employed to identify small business use cases — and design feature sets and solutions to address them — can inform and influence the development of broader use cases that paint a picture for how customers behave across the call center, desktop and in-store platforms, uses cases can and should be comprehensive and limited to one or two channels. The mobile team’s process can also inform use cases for other types of customers: individuals with home offices, or larger businesses. Additionally, the revised mobile app will provide rich data to inform a better understanding of customers’ shopping behavior across mobile, keyboard, and store channels.

We’ll be interested to learn more about the new app’s impact on sales, visitation and usage behavior over the next quarter, and on how Staples’ mobile strategy is influencing and transforming its broader business.

Mediapost: Staples Turns Easy Button Into Repackaged App

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