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RealTime IT News

From Clicks to Bricks and Back Again

Office supply retailer Staples Inc. is installing in-store Business Solutions Centers that merge the online clicks of its Staples.com operation with the bricks and mortar world of its stores.

The company said that the new centers give a store the ability to operate more efficiently and productively, to expand its virtual inventory by offering more than 100,000 products not found on the shelves, to sell business services to customers, to give store associates an online sales tool and to give the company an easy way to manage the in-store special order process.

The Business Solutions Centers are red-and-blue kiosk computer stations featuring access to Staples.com and other interactive features that are installed in 20 pilot stores across the United States. Each pilot store includes five or more access points to the centers, some facing the customer and some facing sales associates. The program will be refined and then expanded throughout the country.

"Offering services to small business, through Staples.com and the Business Solutions Centers, is a logical next step for Staples," said Staples founder and CEO Thomas G. Stemberg.

Customers or sales associates can access Staples-approved service providers for business printing, Web design, payroll management, long distance telephone, shipping and a host of other services. The in-store centers also feature content that gives customers the resources to make an informed buying decision, plus a Quote Request process that lets customers compare price quotes from thousands of national and local vendors.

Staples is a $9 billion retailer of office supplies, furniture, technology and services with about 50,000 and more than 1,200 office superstores.