For Staples, it’s no longer just about office supplies
These days, even the place where you get printer ink and paper clips -- or smartphones -- wants more. It wants a relationship.
You might think that, for a company like Staples, it’s all about having the cheapest paper or the widest range of printer inks.
It’s certainly about the products, Senior Director for Customer Analytics Mark Pickett told me recently, but it’s mostly about “how we engage with the customer.” (He will be speaking about “How Staples Used Martech to Transform Marketing and the Enterprise” at our MarTech Conference this October in Boston.)
“What we’re doing is trying to establish a relationship,” he said. That echoes most other modern brands, but how does one establish a relationship when you just need some new printer ink?
First of all, Pickett said, Staples is not just office supplies anymore, as anyone who has wandered their site or their locations can attest. There’s personal computing, personal devices, cleaning supplies and break room supplies, among other things. There are also services, like Managed by Q office services.
“Let’s say you’re a business,” he said, “and we make a delivery.”
“The delivery person from Staples walks in with that copier paper you ordered and notices that you have a break room. Do you know we provide [break room supplies] as well?”
In other words, cross-selling and upselling, in this case in person.
“Ten years ago,” he said, “folks said give the customer what they want, but that was mostly tied to a product.”
“Now, we say we want to do that … [plus] do something meaningful so as to establish a relationship with the brand.”
From the customer’s point of view, he said, that means not just responding with the product you want, “but anticipating what you’re going to be looking for,” like break-room supplies.
To know what you want before you do, Staples is doing what other major brands do — building a rich profile of corporate clients, of individuals and of the relationship between the two. At every touch point with the customer, the brand can then make recommendations, offer discounts and/or conduct multi-variate testing — all to see what the company or the individual might find valuable.
It’s like you went into a diner, I suggested, and ordered a hamburger. The waitress asks: “Want fries with that?”
Yes, Pickett said, except that there are lots and lots of things that go with hamburgers that you may not have thought about.
If you’re headed to our MarTech Conference in Boston, be sure to attend the session with Mark Pickett on Tuesday, October 3.