Staples revamps b-to-b e-commerce site, reports net sales increase

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Staples, Inc. launched a new e-commerce site for its b-to-b division, Staples Advantage, according to Laura Brooks, VP of b-to-b e-commerce at Staples. The new site is designed to feature faster and easier search navigation, alternative product recommendations and enhanced site customization, among other changes.

By relaunching the site, Staples intends to provide business customers with the ease-of-use of consumer sites by enabling users to consolidate suppliers and experience a faster and more intuitive e-commerce experience, Brooks said. 

Staples Advantage built the site in-house with support from IBM, said Brooks. It features new search navigation intended to provide intuitive product categorization to enable customers to find products quicker. The site also offers alternative product recommendations geared toward supporting users' internal sustainability and supplier diversity programs.

“We wanted to make search and browse more integrated and fluid,” said Brooks. “We did a lot of work on categorization, a lot of work on interacting with results, such as enabling customers to sort and compare [products], and filter results down by criteria.”

Staples Advantage designed the site to enable faster access to previous orders and frequently purchased items on the home page for quick re-order. The site is also expected to optimize for individual users with specific company logos, employee messages and contracted product assortment and pricing.

Staples Advantage offers business customers creative marketing solutions, IT products and print offerings, among other services.

“This new site is much more personalized, offers customers improved navigation, robust search-and-browse and easier access to previously ordered items,” Ronald Sargent, chairman and CEO of Staples, said during a Nov. 15 earnings call.

The site was made widely available at the "very end of October," said Brooks. She would not be more specific.

Staples reported that third-quarter 2011 company sales increased 0.5% to $6.6 billion compared to the third quarter of 2010. Net income for the third quarter of 2011 increased 13% year-over-year to $326 million. Operating expenses increased 0.8% to $1.3 billion, compared with last year.

Staples Advantage falls under the umbrella of Staples' North American Delivery division, which reported $2.6 billion in sales during the quarter, a 1.8% percent increase compared with the third quarter of 2010.

The North American Retail division posted flat sales of $2.7 billion compared to the third quarter of 2010. Third quarter 2011 comparable store sales declined 1% compared with the third quarter of 2010.

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