Staples Moves Toward Building an Amazon-Like Web Marketplace

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Staples Moves Toward Building an Amazon-Like Web Marketplace

 user admin 2014-12-09 at 11:31:37 am Views: 310
  • #41604

    Staples Moves Toward Building an Amazon-Like Web Marketplace
     By Stefany Zaroban

    Office supplies giant Staples Inc. took a step today toward its goal of running its own online marketplace with the launch of Staples Exchange, a custom-built, drop-ship platform that allows suppliers to more easily upload their products for sale to consumers on

    Staples Exchange will also be available in 2015 for suppliers selling to small and medium-sized businesses on and, the business-to-business sites Staples operates for small and large businesses, respectively.

    The in-house platform, which has been in the works for about a year and a half, will replace one from e-commerce technology provider CommerceHub, which it will continue to use during a migration period. Staples Exchange will allow the e-retailer to more easily expand the number of SKUs it offers consumers, and provide better order tracking and greater visibility into product inventory, Staples says.

    Unlike CommerceHub, which charges suppliers integration fees for linking up their product catalog, Staples Exchange allows suppliers to plug in for free into all Staples’ e-commerce properties, including, says Faisal Masud, Staples’ executive vice president of global e-commerce. In 2015, this will extend to its business-to-business portal Staples Advantage, Staples Canada and

    Once enrolled, suppliers can upload their products and begin receiving orders, with access to real-time alerts, analytics broken down by channel and self-service tools to manage inventory.

    In late 2013, Staples announced plans to dramatically expand its online SKU count by bringing in products from a slew of suppliers in new categories like restaurant and medical supplies, garden equipment and retail fixtures. The e-retailer is now selling nearly 1.5 million SKUs on its e-commerce properties, up from 200,000 in late 2013 and 30,000 in 2012, from more than 500 product suppliers, many of which are drop shipping orders directly to consumers, Masud says.

    In Staples’ North American B2B business, which it calls North American Commercial and includes and, sales increased 3.3% to $2.158 billion for the third quarter ended Nov. 1, 2014, up from $2.089 a year earlier. Staples attributes the increase mostly to sales of such products as breakroom supplies, furniture, business machines and accessories, and general office supplies. Total commercial sales were partly offset by declines in sales of ink, toner and paper, the company says.

    On the retail side, Staples says third-quarter sales on increased 9% year over year, as overall North American retail store and online sales declined 5.9% to $5.83 billion from $3.01 billion. (More on Staples’ Q3 financial performance )

    The business model is not yet a pure online marketplace since its product selection is highly curated and Staples serves as the seller of record. But an online marketplace similar to the Inc. model is in the works, Masud tells Internet Retailer. The new Staples Exchange platform will help to make it more of a reality.

    In addition, the new platform is part of an effort by Staples to bring more of its e-commerce technology operations in-house, Masud adds. “We’ve been saying for a while now that we want to bring out technology more in house as we expand into new verticals, and this is an example of that.”

    While Staples is expanding its e-commerce presence beyond office supplies, it’s drastically reducing its physical store footprint. The merchant says it will shutter 170 retail locations by the end of 2014.