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The Staples Easy Button is well on its way to becoming much more than a piece of clever branding with the announcement that, with the help of IBM’s Watson, companies will soon be able to refill on office supplies through a platform that works to learn more about customers over time.
“Staples and IBM have combined the power of Watson technology with Staples’ expertise in helping small and medium-sized businesses to transform how companies shop for everything they need for their office,” said Faisal Masud, executive vice president, e-commerce and customer experience, Staples. “With the Easy System, administrators will have greater overall management of their organizations’ procurement processes, ultimately saving them time they can instead spend on running their office. It’s the assistant’s assistant.”
Moving into the next stage of its Staples Easy System pilot program, the company is looking to simplify office supply management through the application of the advanced machine learning technology offered by IBM’s computing power. Once completed, the platform will allow companies to order supplies through a multitude of channels, including app, email, Facebook Messenger, and even a physical Easy Button, a la Amazon’s Dash Buttons.
Going beyond typical ordering technology, Staples is in the process of implementing features like speech-to-text, allowing customers to order supplies or ask questions simply through verbal commands, as well as the ability for the brand to store and analyze previous call audio.
“A critical component of Watson’s technology is engagement, facilitating better interactions between brands and consumers, deepening connections and enhancing how people engage,” said Steve Abrams, distinguished engineer and vice president of developer advocacy, IBM Watson. “Our collaboration with Staples puts cognitive in the palm of the consumer’s hand, streamlining business operations and creating a frictionless customer experience.”
The Easy Button represents a rising trend in marketing technology that allows customers to perform actions simply through the use of text or speech. The technology is being spearheaded by tech giants like Facebook, which introduced Facebook Messenger chatbots earlier this year. Whether these bots are a gimmick or the future of customer experience, there’s no doubt that they’ll have a large impact on how consumers look to interact with their favorite brands.
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