Staples.com – 110% DEDICATED to its customers



Staples.com has gone through a dramatic transformation. What’s most impressive about the new Staples.com is NOT the updated web site itself but the process the Staples.com went through to get to where they are.
They did things like follow 23 customers to see how they really used the web site. This reminds me of another successful company, Intuit. Their “follow me home” program has them literally follow a customer around to see how a real small business person operates. Focus groups are useful but you can get even more information from real customers in real settings.
Another thing the Staples.com team did was to trace the life of an order from start to finish. Following customers around, combined with knowing the “life of an order” gave the Staples.com team incredible insight into building Staples.com.
Since the new web site was designed – with intensive customer feedback – it is a guaranteed success. What about YOUR web site? Is focusing on the customer most important? Read my 10 Web Site Musts
By making it easier for customers to shop – customers buy more. Stated another way – investing in a new web site design can increase revenue. Some of the most impressive changes Staples.com went through include:
-Reduced office supplies categories from 24 to 16; reduced technology categories from 25 to 17. Reducing the categories makes it easier for customers to find what they need and lessens the time users require to locate a product
-Greatly reduced user “pogo-sticking”
Definition “Pogo-sticking – the process by which an online shopper goes through several web links and back buttons in their browser before they finally find the product they need.
WowA tool that shows you what add-ons are NECESSARY for a product (like a parallel printer cable with a printer) and recommended (like extra ink cartridges).
Staples.com is the fifth largest e-commerce site on the Internet and its relaunch is the result of some of the most customer-centric research processes ever applied to one single e-commerce site, including detailed customer persona research and extensive usability testing with small business and home office customers.
The redesigned site reflects Staples’ commitment to making it easy to buy office products. Site enhancements at each stage of the purchase process make it easy to find the right products, easy to order and easy to checkout.
“The new Staples.com is the site that our customers built, resulting in an easy online shopping experience,” said Brian Light, executive vice president of Staples Business Delivery. “Our expert usability team applied state-of-the art customer research methodologies to identify characteristics of our key customers so we could design specifically for them. This work, along with a tireless cross-functional effort with our merchandising, marketing and information systems teams, enables our customers to get in, get out and get on with their busy day.”
Staples applied qualitative and quantitative customer research through every step of the site design process, incorporating feedback from thousands of customers along the way. Staples is one of few retailers to use customer persona research at the Web site level to design based on specific customer shopping characteristics. From this research, the primary Staples customer personas, or types, — “Lisa Listmaker” and “Sammy Specific”– were born.
Lisa Listmaker is an office manager whose main goal is to get the order done as quickly as possible. She usually has a detailed list of her “standard order” with item numbers for each product handy while ordering. She shops most often via Staples.com, in addition to using her Staples catalog and visiting her local Staples store, and usually completes the order in one visit–true to her “in-and-out” nature. She likes special deals if they’ll help her save the office even more.
Sammy Specific runs a small business and is not a planner when it comes to buying office products. Among other characteristics, Sammy typically does not shop by item number, but knows the products he needs by brand and/or general specifications.
The new Staples.com designed primarily for these customer personas includes the following new and enhanced features:
Easy to Find Features
¬∑ Staples.com homepage: Staples’ usability team conducted a process called “card sorting” with more than 5,000 customers to create a simplified and improved product categorization with all product categories “above the fold.” The improvements make it easier to find the right products among more than 40,000 available.
¬∑ “Learn More About” and “Help Me Decide” tools: easily choose the right product from recommendations based on what’s important to you.
¬∑ New navigation tabs: “My Account” to easily manage your Staples.com account; “Ink & Toner” tab for easy ordering of this key item customers always need; and a “Specials” tab to highlight weekly deals and other savings opportunities all in one place.
Easy to Order Features
¬∑ “Easy Reorder:” quickly shop using past orders. Staples keeps track of what you’ve purchased online, by phone and/or fax in your “Easy Reorder” lists.
¬∑ “Add to Cart:” patent-pending functionality that makes it faster to select product quantities from the quantity box.
¬∑ “Necessary and Recommended” products: If ordering a product that needs another item to make it work, Staples lets you know. For example, if you’re buying a printer, you’ll be reminded that you also need a cable. Staples also suggests recommended items to accompany a purchase such as a carrying case for a new camera.
Easy to Check Out Features
¬∑ Staples Easy Rebates℠: Now it’s even easier to take advantage of Easy Rebates. Launched in late 2004, Easy Rebates enables customers to quickly submit rebates online for processing with no cutting or mailing. Confirmation of rebate submission sent via email with a tracking number. More than 90 percent of customers surveyed since the introduction have said the submission process was easy, they would use it again and they would recommend it to a friend.
¬∑ Enhanced package tracking: quickly get all your order details—when you’ll receive it, where it is now and in how many shipments it will be sent.

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Ramon Ray, Editor & Technology Evangelist, Smallbiztechnology.com . Editor and Founder, Smart Hustle Magazine Full bio at http://www.ramonray.com . Check him out on Google Plus, Twitter or Facebook