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Staples Advantage caters to its B2B buyers by providing them with more flexible options such as a mobile app and in-store pickup within two hours. Staples Advantage raises the customer experience for its customers and makes online customer engagement very simple.
Loyalty360 caught up with Gillan Hawkes, Director, Ecommerce Product Management for Staples Advantage to find out more about this impressive program.
How does Staples Advantage cater to its B2B buyers and how does that impact customer engagement/customer loyalty/customer experience?
StaplesAdvantage.com was built with our business customers in mind and is committed to making online shopping easy for them. Our site features, such as the StaplesAdvantage.com Dashboard, make it even easier for customers to shop. For instance, the dashboard tool has customers’ “need-to-know” information, including recent orders, order status, shopping lists, and products that may need to be reordered. Re-order status is based on the frequency that the user purchases the product, determining when particular items may be running low and need to be restocked for customers. It also displays action items including orders that are pending approval, which can be approved in one-click. Staples Advantage also makes the browsing experience easier than ever with consolidated categories and the ability to browse by industry.
In addition, Staples Advantage is now offering omnichannel capabilities to select business customers. The feature enables them to order select items online for delivery or pickup at Staples retail stores within two hours if an item can’t wait for next day delivery. Lastly, we also offer a mobile app that provides additional flexibility to place orders directly from mobile devices. The app allows customers to approve orders on the go without holding up their business. It also allows customers to scan and add an item to the shopping cart immediately. Ease of shopping is critical to creating customer loyalty.
What is the biggest difference catering to B2B customers as opposed to B2C customers from a customer engagement/customer experience perspective?
As consumers get more comfortable shopping online, Staples Advantage has noticed that business customers expect the same user experience and ease of shopping as provided by consumer websites. Staples Advantage is one of the only ecommerce sites built for business users. We pay close attention to making the shopping experience easy for our customers. Whether it’s, viewing recently purchased items, adding multiple products to the shopping cart at a time, it’s, placing a quick order or ensuring an easy checkout process, the goal is to provide a seamless shopping experience to our customers.
What makes Staples Advantage unique?
Today’s customers shop in a variety of ways – in-store, online, and on their mobile devices. We have optimized StaplesAdvantage.com for tablets and mobile phones to ensure businesses can easily shop wherever and whenever is convenient for them. We treat our customers’ organizations as individual customers. The website provides a more personalized experience, with recommendations tailored to a customer’s organizational needs. This helps them discover other products they may need, with a more simplified checkout process. We also have a revamped deals section that highlights the best savings opportunities for their organization.
With Staples Advantage, business customers are able to order online or from a mobile phone and pick up in-store within two hours. This allows them to purchase items at their negotiated, discounted contract rate, avoiding unnecessary expenses of shopping elsewhere.
Marketers are looking for simplicity, yet with disparate technologies, confusing acronyms, and more data than ever before, what is your advice for brands?
Staples Advantage is creating a cohesive buying experience for business customers across all buying platforms – online, mobile browsing, mobile app and in-store. It’s important for brands to keep in mind that an omnichannel experience is just as important for business customers as it is for the general consumer. Business customers are brand loyal, but will switch vendors if they feel the relationship isn’t personalized and catered to their specific needs.
Can you provide an example of when in-store pickup would be beneficial for a B2B customer?
If an employee is traveling and needs to pick up supplies for a meeting or presentation, he/she can place an order online for in-store pickup at the closest location to the employee. Additionally, if there’s an immediate need for supplies in the office, the in-store pickup is a good option, as it cuts out the shipping/delivery time.
How does the Staples Advantage mobile app work for ordering? How does this bring increased convenience?
The mobile app not only provides on-the-go ordering, but also enables customers to use their smartphone to scan the barcode on items that need to be replenished. Now with the app, they don’t have to leave the supply room to order. This decreases the amount of time it takes to order supplies. Additionally, if a customer has approvals required, approvals can be done in real time without holding anyone or anything up.
Are there any cost benefits for B2B customers with these added buying features?
The added convenience of being able to shop how they want – online, in-store and via mobile at their negotiated contract price − helps customers eliminates rogue spend and maximize the program value.
Are there any other ways these new buying methods make it easy for customers to shop?
We’ve introduced new tools such as Visual Search, which is especially beneficial for more visual categories like interiors and furniture. Staples Advantage is the first major ecommerce site to offer the functionality.
By selecting product images to initiate a search, customers can find visually similar products to those desired, and quickly narrow search results to those that are similar in terms of color, shape and texture. As they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words” – and office products are no exception as it’s hard to adequately describe some products through text alone.
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