The Staples model: How increasing its online presence helped the retailer become a B2B powerhouse

Retailers interested in establishing themselves as B2B providers while increasing their online presence need to look not further than Staples to see how it is done. 

The office superstore may have had humble beginnings, selling back to school supplies to families out of its brick-and-mortar locations, but the company is so much more than that today. Staples has become a powerhouse in B2B sales and it has its innovative thinkers who understood the power of online sales to thank for its success. 

According to a report from an external contributor and featured in the online publication Bezinga, Staples is investing $250 million into increasing its online and mobile commerce operations. Executives at the company understand that procurement specialists are taking to their computers and smartphones to search for supplies and are making smart investments to ensure they have this need covered. 

Staples is performing well in the market this year, primarily because of its increased online business. According to the news source, total online revenue reached $10.605 billion last year, a 5 percent increase from 2011's final number of $10.1 billion. By increasing its online mobile presence, Staples should be in a position to capture new business opportunities from individuals looking to buy directly from their smartphones or tablets.

Ron Sargent, Staples' chairman and chief executive officer, recently gave a statement about his company's recent success moving to digital sales and he shared some insights about where the company wants to go in the near future.

"Our vision is to establish Staples as the single-source product authority for millions of businesses," Sargent said. "We are building on the strengths that are the foundation of our success by focusing on five key priorities: accelerate growth in our online businesses, fully integrate retail and online, improve retail store productivity, restructure our international operations and return cash to stakeholders."

Certainly not every company has the same direct needs as Staples. Many small providers aren't in a position to start thinking about shareholder relations. However, that doesn't make Staples any less of a model organization. Its ability to predict the future of commerce and capitalize early on innovative trends is why Staples will likely survive in an increasingly uncertain economy and companies can follow similar philosophies and incorporate them into their own operations.

However, simply keeping up with online shopping trends is only a part of the equation. For businesses to truly capitalize they must ensure they are well equipped with the payment solutions needed to ensure they yield the best possible value from each transaction. Processing Level 3 data is essential because it helps vendors pay the lowest possible interchange rates. A company that follows Staple's success and increases its business by offering mobile commerce and online shopping opportunities will want to obtain a payment gateway that will accept this kind of payment because the more transactions that are processed equals the more chances the vendor has to save.

It's a competitive market out there, and the vendors that set themselves up to process innovative payment methods will ultimately go a long way toward ensuring their long-term viability. Working with a B2B payments consultant can help businesses with this process. 

by Ty Hardison

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