Has Staples Launched the Omnichannel Store of the Future?
Staples Inc. last week launched its first two omnichannel stores, a smaller concept featuring a range of kiosks that extends the amount of merchandise a customer can select to more than 100,000 items.
Located in Norwood, MA, and Dover, DE, the stores are roughly 12,000 square feet and carry about 6,000 to 7,000 of the retailer's best-performing SKUs. The office-supplier retailer's typical stores range from 18,000 to 24,000 square feet and carry between 7,000 to 8,000 SKUs, a Staple's spokesman told Internet Retailer.
Staples claims to be the world's second largest internet retailer with online sales representing 42.2 percent of revenues in 2012.
Employees are also being armed with tablets to offer shoppers further product information and to check inventory availability. The kiosks orders come with free, next business day delivery to more than 98 percent of North America.
Another significant feature of the store is The Business Lounge, a meeting space that features a conference table and charging station surrounded by copy and fax machines, printers, computer workstations and Starbucks coffee. Lounge customers can view online product on a 55-inch screen.
Other features of the concept include consultation areas for small business customers who need help from Staples EasyTech and Copy and Print associates, and also offers reserve online/in-store pick up capabilities.
The concept reflects the initial learnings of Staple's Velocity Lab, an innovation center opened last August.
Overall, 45 of its more than 1,500 stores will be converted to the new smaller format this year. While saving rent, Demos Parneros, Staples president North America stores and online, told The Boston Globe that the smaller stores will still retain 95 percent of sales of its typical, much larger store. He stated, "We can get away with a smaller store because we have the capacity to offer one hundred thousand products online and offer pick-up in store or delivery overnight."
At the same time, Parneros also believes Staples clearly benefits from its brick & mortar foothold. He said, "What sets us apart from the Internet retailers is you can come in and hold and touch the product, there's an interplay of the retail network and online."
- Staples' Omnichannel Stores Showcase the Future of Retail – Staples
- Staples redesigns its stores for the Internet age – Internet Retailer
- Staples looks to fend off its online rivals – The Boston Globe (tiered sub.)
- Staples Velocity Lab Now Open in Cambridge, MA as Company Focuses on Online Growth – Staples
What do you think of Staples’ omnichannel concept? Do you expect digital kiosks in stores will be fairly common across other retail channels in the years ahead? How do you envision the omnichannel store of the future?