RealTime IT News

Where the Bricks Meet the Clicks

Following through on its plan to merge the clicks of its online operation with the bricks of its real-world stores, office supply retailer Staples Inc. said it has rolled out Staples.com access points to all 954 of its U.S. retail stores,

The company said the move effectively expands in-store SKUs from 7,500 to 45,000 products, 100,000 downloadable software titles and dozens of business services via the in-store kiosks.

Staples said customers have the option to pay for online purchases via cash, check or credit at the store's registers.

"By integrating our online access in our retail store locations, it gives us an opportunity to introduce our retail store customers to Staples.com and helps us operate our stores more efficiently," said Ed Harsant, president of Staples North American Stores.

Staples said the expansion follows a successful pilot in 20 stores around the country. The online access points in-store will provide customers with a library of information about products and business services. Additionally, it simplifies the special orders process and provides an easy solution for fulfilling customer orders when an item is not available at the store.

Hopefully the move will impact the bottom line down the road, as Staples late last week cut its fourth-quarter earnings target and said it would take a $200 million pretax charge for a write-down in investments in a telecommunications company and a group of Internet companies.

The company also said a slowing economy and fierce competition in the retail environment would lead to comparable sales growth of 3 percent in the fourth quarter.

Staples said it now expects to post earnings per share in its fiscal fourth quarter ending Feb. 3 in the range of 19 cents to 21 cents, excluding special charges. The consensus analyst estimate had been 24 cents.

Staples is a $9 billion company with about 700 other store operations in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal.