Staples Launches Branded App Center

Hand AppsFramingham, Massachusetts-based office supply retailer Staples announced yesterday the launch of the Staples App Center, an online marketplace for cloud-based business applications. The App Center makes it easy for small businesses to purchase and manage their apps all in one place, with a selection of the best business apps, an administrative console and one consolidated bill.

This follows the December announcement by the Staples that it would partner with professional networking site LinkedIn, to launch SUCCEED: Small Business Network. The new online forum will serve as a platform for networking, advice and content specifically for small business professionals.  Both are great examples of retailers stretching the traditional notion of brand and Private Brand to better engage their customers and create sustainable differentiated customer experiences.

“Together with LinkedIn, we have the opportunity to develop a vital small business community and build on our relationships with this important segment through the leading social network for professionals.” In SUCCEED, Staples and LinkedIn are creating an online community that enables small businesses to connect and collaborate. The group gives small business professionals the opportunity to network and discuss important issues, as well as share success stories and professional hurdles in an online forum created especially for them.

“Staples’ vision is to provide small businesses with all the products they need to succeed, including the best offerings from the evolving cloud computing market,” said Peter Scala, Senior Vice President Merchandising, Online Marketplace. “The App Center is the first of its kind in our industry, and uniquely meets the needs of our customers as they shift to cloud-based apps. Staples recognizes that small businesses would rather spend time growing their business than figuring out which applications they need to run it, so we did the research for them and selected the best cloud-based business solutions.”

Staples easy buttonThe App Center features leading cloud applications from service providers like Google, Carbonite, Mozy, Box, Symantec, McAfee, and Brother, along with other cutting edge developers, with more to come. Small businesses can shop for apps by category, get recommendations, perform feature-by-feature comparisons and review product profiles. Most apps come with free trials and monthly subscriptions that can be cancelled at any time, creating risk-free shopping.

The App Center also features a dashboard, unique to the industry, that lets users access all their apps with one login and perform administrative tasks, like quickly adding approved users, upgrading apps or reviewing key usage data. For billing administration, customers are charged monthly with one consolidated bill from Staples, with the ability to review line item details on past invoices.

Staples recently announced it was increasing its investment in online capabilities and significantly expanding its assortment beyond office supplies to better serve the needs of business customers. The Staples App Center is an example of how the company is exploring new channels to grow its business, offer even more products and services, and forge tighter relationships with its customers.



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Christopher Durham

Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan).

Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s.
Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago.

Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.