Staples Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLS) is the world's largest office supply chain store, with over 2,000 stores worldwide in 26 countries. Based in Framingham, Massachusetts, United States, the company has retail stores, serving customers under its original name in Austria, Brazil, China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Norway, Portugal, United Kingdom, and the United States, while operating subsidiaries in Argentina as Officenet-Staples, Belgium and Netherlands as Office Centre, Canada as Staples Canada (Bureau En Gros in Quebec), and in Italy as Mondoffice. Staples also does business exclusively with enterprises in multiple European countries as Staples Advantage.
Staples sells supplies, office machines, promotional products, furniture, technology and business services both in stores and online. The company opened its first store in Brighton, Massachusetts in 1986. Quill Corporation is Staples most profitable division, accounting for nearly 25% of the company's net income. Between 1998 and 2009 Quill grew from $500 million in revenues to over $1.3 billion. The company is still one of Staples' fastest growing divisions and is led by Michael Patriarca, President of Quill Corporation.
The L in the logo is a stylized staple.
An older location at the Savi Ranch Center in Yorba Linda
The idea for Staples was created in 1985, while founder Thomas G. Stemberg was working on a proposal for a different business. He needed a ribbon for his printer, but was unable to obtain one because his local dealer was closed for the Independence Day holiday. A frustration with the reliance on small stores for critical supplies combined with Stemberg's background in the grocery business led to a vision for an office supply superstore. The first store was opened in Brighton, Massachusetts in 1986.
In 1990, Staples began to expand to western United States, particularly in California.
In 1991, Staples founded its Canadian subsidiary, The Business Depot, and began opening stores under that name, though over a decade later, all stores were renamed as "Staples." The first store opened in Vaughan, Ontario, north of Toronto. The following year, Staples began expanding into Europe, and opened its first store in Swansea, United Kingdom.
During its 10th anniversary in 1996, Staples became one of the Fortune 500 companies as sales surpass $3 billion. Staples acquired the naming rights for the Staples Center in Los Angeles during its construction in 1998. The 500th store was opened in Vero Beach, Florida and its 1000th store was opened in Duluth, Georgia.
On September 4, 1996, Staples and Office Depot announced plans to merge. The Federal Trade Commission decided that the superpower would unfairly increase office supply prices despite competition from OfficeMax, because OfficeMax did not have stores in many of the local markets that the merger would affect. Staples ultimately argued that chains such as Wal-Mart and Circuit City Stores represented significant competition, but this argument did little to sway the FTC. Following the denial of the merger by the FTC, a rivalry has formed between the two companies.
Between 1999 and 2001, unsuccessful attempts to enter telecommunications business was made as Staples created Staples Communications after the purchase of Canada-based company, Claricom, from an investment group. The company was later sold to Platinum Equities and renamed NextiraOne.
By 2001, Staples integrated its e-commerce website to all of its subsidiaries across the world. In 2002, Staples launches Staples Foundation for Learning and acquires Medical Arts Press, which becomes part of Quill Corporation. By 2004, Staples expanded to Austria and Denmark and in 2007, Staples opens its first store in India. In 2008, Staples acquired Dutch office supplies company Corporate Express, one of the largest office supply wholesalers in the world. Staples also launched 11 concept stores in the New England area featuring a large focus on small business and technology related services.
The easy button.
Staples - "That was easy"
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Throughout most of the company's history, Staples employed, in its American commercials and advertising promotions, the slogan "Yeah, we've got that.", signifying their wide selection of products. This slogan was retired in 2003, to be replaced with "That was easy." Expanding on that theme, 2005 ads featured a large red push-button marked "easy". In the UK, Staples had used the slogan "You want it. We've got it"; they have now changed it to "That was Easy".
Following a television campaign featuring the 'Easy Button', it was turned into a real product (available in English "easy", French "simple", Spanish "fácil" and German "einfach easy"). These buttons were shipped to stores in the US, Canada and Germany starting in the fall of 2005.
The typical design for more recently built locations
The Staples Snowbot was an advertising character that appeared in the United States, in television and print advertising during the 2000 and 2001 Christmas seasons.
The Snowbot was a robot shaped like a snowman who refuses to let go of the inkjet printer he has fallen in love with. After the printer is wrestled from his grasp, the robot utters a monotone "Weeping. Weeping." He is consoled by a Staples employee who offers him a surge protector or a computer mouse (depending on the ad) instead.
The robot's "Weeping. Weeping." catchphrase briefly became a popular meme on the Internet, and the ad itself was parodied in an American 2002 Christmas ad for Dell Computers, in which a robot hassles a shopper (including striking him with a candy cane) when he attempts to purchase a PC at an unnamed office supplies retailer.
Another ad style is used during its annual back-to-school campaign, in which the Christmas song "It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" is played while parents joyously shop for school supplies for their children, used for several years beginning in 1994.
Their 2007 Back to school campaign was "Totally organized. Totally Easy." and the 2007 Holiday campaign was "That holiday was easy."
During the 2008 holiday season, Staples advertising for the first time engaged Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media platforms. The company created a character named "Coach Tom" to promote its “Gift it for Free” sweepstakes, in which 10,000 Staples customers won up to $5,000 in merchandise.
March 2005 - Staples Inc. and Ahold announced a joint collaboration in which all Stop & Shop Supermarkets and Giant Food stores throughout the Northeast will have a Staples branded store-within-store section that will sell traditional school and home office products in addition to copy and photo paper, ink cartridges, and technology products. The Staples store-within-store section had its debut in July 2005. In August 2006, Ahold announced the addition of the Staples section to all Tops Friendly Markets locations as well.
2002 - Staples acquired Medical Arts Press, a leading supplier in the United States of front-office and exam-room products for healthcare facilities, including medical, dental, chiropractic, veterinary, podiatric and eye care practices. Medical Arts Press carries over 18,000 products, including general office supplies, chart labels, end-tab folders, ink and toner, furniture, code books, postcards, breakroom supplies, and appointment books. It is Quill Corporation's most profitable business unit. Medical Arts Press has over $150M in annual revenues and is led by Terry Schwarting.
2004 - Staples purchased British rival Office World from the Globus group. Rebranding of these stores to the Staples brand took place in 2005.
2007 - Staples acquired and created Staples Industrial/Chiswick markets and distributes industrial and retail packaging, shipping and warehouse products to thousands of small and mid–sized manufacturers, distributors and retailers throughout the US and Canada. The company offers over 7,500 industrial and retail packaging and shipping products, and their product line includes a wide variety of polyethylene bags, corrugated boxes, tape, labels, protective packaging, mailers, retail shopping bags and related packaging supplies. Sales channels include Catalog/Direct Mail, the Internet and Outside Sales.
2007 - Staples acquired Thrive Networks, an experienced IT services company that focuses on bringing Fortune 500–level IT support to small and mid–level businesses. The company provides 24x7 network monitoring and help–desk support, while delivering strategic technology consulting that helps customers achieve their business goals.
2007 - Staples purchased American Identity, one of the largest global distributors of corporate branded merchandise. American Identity has since been rebranded as Staples Promotional Products.
2008 - Staples acquired Corporate Express.
Staples is ranked in the top 25 of EPA's Green Power Partner list. In 2006, Staples offered more than 2,900 different office products incorporating recycled content. Staples is currently trying to pursue developing Staples brand products with green raw materials. In response to a 2-year campaign targeting the company, Staples adopted an environmentally friendly paper policy, in hopes of increasing the amount of post-consumer recycled paper made available for sale, phasing out products originating from endangered forests. The Hanover, Maryland fulfillment center is powered by a 1.01 megawatt solar installation covering nearly 175,000 square feet (16,300 m2) of roof space.
Beginning in May 2007, Staples began offering a technology recycling program, which allows customers to bring in old technology items, such as computers, printers, and monitors, and have them recycled for a $10 charge per item.
Staples accepts all used ink and toner cartridges for recycling. Prior to 2008, the only cartridges that could be recycled were HP, Kodak, and Dell, and customers were given a three dollar coupon for the store, with a maximum number of coupons that could be given, or redeemed, at any time being 25. Starting in 2008 and continuing to the present, one's ink recycling goes on the customer's Staples Rewards. Staples now give back $2.00 on all ink cartridges and toners as of July, 2010. It comes to them as a separate coupon, monthly instead of the normal quarterly. Most customers are able to trade in ten per month for credit, whilst Staples Premier Rewards members are able to trade in twenty per month.
In April 2007, Staples introduced its new "Staples Rewards" program. Benefits include free delivery on online purchases (over $50) and a quarterly 10% Rewards Coupons of purchases at the Copy and Print Center, and purchases of paper, ink, and toner. Previously Staples offered free delivery on any order for Staples Rewards card holders. Currently only Premier or associate members get free shipping on all orders. Premier status can be attained when one spends $1,000 or more in a calendar year.
As of January 1, 2010, "Staples Rewards" now consists of the following: Earn 10% back in Staples Rewards on ink, toner, paper, and Copy and Print Center purchases every month as long as you have earned $10 or more. Also, anyone can recycle up to 10 ink or toner (20 for Premier) cartridges a month and receive $2 per cartridge in a separate Rewards Coupon.
There is no limit to the total amount of Rewards Coupons a customer can earn (one can receive multiple coupons) and has to reach a minimum of $10 in rewards for the 10% portion or it will roll over until either it has been reached or the end of the calendar quarter (whichever comes first).
Staples' stores in the United Kingdom began trialling the previously named "Staples Business Rewards" at a selected number of "Hypergrowth" stores (such as Milton Keynes, Poole, Sheffield and Southampton stores) during May 2005. To receive their rewards, customers must spend £100 or more each quarter to receive 2% back on standard purchases and 20% back on Copy and Print Centre purchases. A basic "Staples Reward" customer can receive up to £50 back in cash vouchers (which have no minimum 'spend-in-store"). If a customer spends £1,000 or more in a calendar year, the customer is upgraded to the prestigious "Premier Rewards" of which they receive 5% on standard purchases and 20% back on the Copy and Print Centre, again if the customer spends over £100 during each quarter. The customer can also receive back up to £100 in vouchers.
In 2002, the company started the Staples Foundation for Learning, which supports youth groups and education. It also is a partner of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Ashoka, Earth Force, Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, Hispanic Heritage Foundation and through Staples, ReadBoston.
In August 2005, Staples introduced the "Easy Button", a novelty item for offices which is advertised as a fun way of relieving stress. The button does nothing other than say "That was easy" when pressed. The first USD$1 million of profits each year from the Easy Button are donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. It is currently for sale for USD $4.99-$5.99 in all US and Canadian stores (where profits go to Special Olympics in Canada) and on the company's website. Donations also go to the Children's Fund. Staples has reportedly sold more than $7.5 million worth of Easy Buttons.
Copy & Print Centre
Besides office supplies and business machines, Staples also offers a Copy and Print Center for faxing, custom business cards, custom stamps, promotional products, binding, laminating, folding, cutting and engraved products as well as photocopying services. Most locations have a full service UPS shipping center offering air, ground, international and freight services, (FedEx, DHL in the United Kingdom stores & Purolator in the Canadian stores), which is open during store hours. The copy center is often referred to as a "store inside a store", especially due to the fact that many of them have walls separating them from the rest of the store. The Copy and Print Center was also the first Print Center to offer custom business cards printed in store. Known as Business Cards in Minutes (BCIM) customers are able to have custom business cards in a matter of hours.
Today there are stand alone Staples Copy & Print Store where Copy & Print become the brand of Staples in a reverse method and currently located in Boston and New York City.
Some stores also feature Staples EasyTech, an in-store and on-site service for PC repair, PC upgrades, home and office networking setup, and PC tutorials.
Starting in November 2005, Staples began a test called "Heavy Up" primarily using stores in New York state to experiment with the expansion of the offerings by the Staples Tech Center. A subsequent test known as "Double Up" was planned for an unspecified test market and was scheduled to begin the first half of 2006. The tests ran to promote competition with Best Buy's Geek Squad and Circuit City's Firedog.
Beginning in early 2006, Staples also launched the "Easy Resident Tech" program, employing one to two resident computer repair technicians to do in-store repair during normal business hours.
Beginning January 30, 2007, Staples launched Staples EasyTech. The launch rebranded the "Easy Mobile Tech" name with plans to install an 11' x 17' kiosk in every store. The kiosk may vary from store to store depending on its size and volume. Most kiosks take up part of the Customer Service desk. Within the kiosk, Easy Resident Techs offered repair service as well as sold products. These technicians wore gray "Easy Tech" polo shirts to distinguish them from regular Staples workers. While there was typically one tech per store, a second tech may have been employed for high-volume stores.
Beginning July 2008, Staples launched a new program labeling all technology workersas "EasyTechs". Under the new guidelines all technology workersare required to have the skills necessary to perform basic services such as memory installation and PC configuration. In addition, all technology workerswear black polo shirts with green "EasyTech" emblems to set them apart from other store workers. The change was due to the company's new focus on services, allowing more customers to be assisted in less time. Most stores will still have a main "EasyTech" who performs most of the more complex tasks.
Beginning November 2008, 11 concept stores featuring a broader array of small business technology services was launched, which are known by the company as Best Tech stores. EasyTechs and sales workers were now referred to as "Tech Advisors" and "Solutions Advisors". The concept stores carry many more technology related products such as digital signage, small business servers, NAS (Network Attached Storage), and business networking. Staples also partnered with an on-demand IT service provider, with such services as network monitoring, advanced network configurations, and server setup. These concept stores are mainly based in New Hampshire, with stores in Nashua, Seabrook, West Lebanon, and Concord. Some stores with this new concept also opened in Massachusetts, including the Auburn store. Other existing stores have been renovated to include Best Tech's services, including the Natick store.